The crisis in journalism has become a crisis for democracies globally.
At a time when the financial model for journalism is broken, more and more communities are losing trust in journalists, and citizens struggle to discern truth from fiction on social media, a new approach to local and global reporting is needed now more than ever.
At GroundTruth, we’re working hard to rise to this enormous challenge. We grew our programs and operations by 400% in 2019 to train and support more emerging journalists reporting on under-covered communities because the need is great and growing by the day.
On The Ground
Beneath the golden-framed image were dozens of roses and candles left by parishioners and above were twisted, red and green curtains that stood for the colors of the Mexican flag. At the cue of the priest, they sang “Las Mañanitas” (“Little Mornings”), a traditional birthday song, and continued with hymns for 30 minutes straight to signal the start of the Feast of Guadalupe.
Francisco Erwin Galicia, a Dallas-born U.S. citizen, spent 23 days in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conditions that made him so desperate he almost opted to self-deport. Galicia says he lost 26 pounds during that time in a South Texas immigrant detention center because officers didn’t provide him with enough food.
Report for America corps member and Fresno Bee reporter Manuela Tobias brought to light a story about poverty and the lack of access to dental care in California. “In the U.S., there is one unspoken barrier that can do lifelong damage: Bad teeth,” she writes.
Sexual propositions, an annoying guitar and alcohol in the office. This is not your average public courtroom tale. The state investigated Kenton County Family Court Judge Dawn Gentry who now faces nine charges that accuse her of using sex, campaign contributions and retaliation as tools in her judgeship, according to documents released by the state. Report for America corps member Julia Fair uncovers this scandal.
There’s a high cost for poor defense in Maine. Seven months ago, the 6th Amendment Center revealed that attorneys could have over-billed Maine $2.2 million for defending the state’s poor. More than a dozen public records requests later, Report for America corps member Samantha Hogan’s investigation for Pine Tree Watch uncovered sweeping errors in the financial oversight of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services. Multiple state investigations have been launched as Maine considers a public defender system.
In a county of 22,000 people, access to clean water can be a challenge due to outdated infrastructure, a shrinking tax base, and a lack of oversight. One community food bank is trying something different, writes Report for America corps member Emily Allen, and has installed a set of hydro-panels that will produce clean water for the McDowell County community.
Maroof Azam, a 24-year-old mechanic, dropped his tools to accost a man who was passing by his store. The person in question was a volunteer for a smartphone app that tracked missing voters. “Did you receive my voter card yet?” Azam asked, his hands blackened with soot from the bike he was repairing. “No, you are rejected,” the volunteer said. Azam’s face turned ashen as he responded: “I am Indian—at least I should be allowed to vote.”
The sun hadn’t yet risen when Yirley Velasco heard her daughter scream. The girl had woken to use the restroom, but a noise at the entrance to the family’s one-story home pulled her instead to the front door. Wedged underneath it was a white envelope tied with a black ribbon. The implication of the delivery was clear: such packages typically signify a death in the community in Colombia.
Matteo Salvini, former Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, made his political career out of denouncing the “threat” that immigration represents to the identity of white, Christian, Europeans. In small towns across the country, his message is resonating with an entire generation of young people who seem to know more about what they are against (immigrants, secularism, abortion) than what they are for. They call themselves “identitarians.”
“Sitting across from Olavo de Carvalho, I saw that he had already set up his computer to film our exchange, his laptop camera framing my face. (He records all his interviews with reporters, whom he calls ‘enemies of the people,’ often releasing them on YouTube. These are then spread by his followers, with titles such as ‘Olavo humiliates journalist.’)”
Only a few years ago, Report for America was just a vision: to reimagine local reporting as a public service. In 2019, that vision became more of a reality than ever before.
A rapidly growing corps
This year’s GroundTruth fellows were undeterred, taking on one of our most ambitious and hard-hitting projects to date. from rising authoritarianism to post-genocide reconciliation.
GroundTruth is proud that our fellow’s work has elevated the voices of local communities to global conversations, and created real impact.
2019 Donor Recognition
Facebook Journalism Project
$250,000 - $999,999
Craig Newmark Philanthropies
David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Google News Initiative
Natasha and Dirk Ziff
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
$100,000 - $249,999
Bake Family Trust
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
Evelyn Y Davis Foundation
Galloway Family Foundation
Henry Luce Foundation
Jonathan Logan Foundation
LOR Foundation / Solutions Journalism Network
Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation
$50,000 - $99,999
Henry Kimelman Family Foundation
Jesse and Betsy Fink
Leon Levy Foundation
Santa Fe Community Foundation
$5,000 - $49,999
Ann Davis Vaughan
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Barinaga Goodman Fund of West Marin Fund
Further Forward Foundation
Iger Bay Foundation
James W. Foley Legacy Foundation
Linda Mason and Roger Brown
Lucky Dog Too Fund
Maria Cuomo and Kenneth Cole
Marie Colvin Memorial Fund
Marilyn Caden's Trust
New England International Donors
Newspapers of New England
Rick and Beverly Fetterman
Samuel I Newhouse Foundation
Select Equity Foundation
Susan Crown Exchange, Inc.
Report for America local newsroom supporters ($5,000+)
Blue Grass Community Foundation
North Carolina Community Foundation
North Carolina Local News Lab
Quinn Family Foundation
Sierra Health Foundation
Stanislaus Community Foundation
WHAT YOU SUPPORT
Here’s what your unrestricted gift to GroundTruth can make possible:
Photo credits (in order of appearance): 1. Angus Mordant / GroundTruth 2. Eric Shelton / GroundTruth 3. Ryan Michalesko / Dallas Morning News, Report for America 4. Leticia Duarte / GroundTruth 5. David Fuchs / KUER, Report for America 6. Leticia Duarte / GroundTruth 7. Michelle Mizner / GroundTruth, Frontline PBS 8. Patrice Howard / GroundTruth 9. Cindy Trinh / GroundTruth