‘Monitor’ to add third RFA reporter

Monitor publisher
Published: 12/8/2021 5:15:40 PM
Modified: 12/8/2021 5:15:12 PM

There’s a lot happening in the Monitor newsroom as we wrap up 2021. So much so, that we thought we’d give you an update. Well, it’s part update, part announcement and part heads-up for what’s still to come.

Since we’re a news organization, we’ll lead with the announcement.

The Monitor, which already has two Report for America journalists covering education and health, has been selected for a third RFA position. This new position will cover a new beat we’re calling “Two New Hampshires.” This is a long-term reporting project that will use data from the 2020 Census, public records, government reporting and solutions journalism to tell the story of the changing demographics of the state and the stories of those struggling to keep up.

We’ll focus on the housing crisis and talk to those facing eviction and landlords who are facing financial pressure from rising property taxes. We’ll write about residents who stand to lose their homes because of liens on their property and first-time buyers unable to enter an overpriced real estate market. We’ll explore the tremendous growth of diversity in Concord. We’ll track our state’s migration trends across demographics. We’ll dive into issues related to income, including minimum and living wages and generational poverty. We’ll tell those stories and many others to help readers better see the challenges in our communities. The position will start in June.

For those new to the concept of Report for America, it’s a national nonprofit that helps newsrooms like ours rebuild their reporting staff by paying for half their salary the first year. The Monitor works with the community to fund the remainder of that reporter’s salary and benefits. All the money raised goes to supporting the new local journalist.

The Monitor is among 120-plus newsrooms nationally to receive a reporting position this year. That includes traditional news organizations like ours, but it also includes digital startups and nonprofits, and local TV and radio stations. We were the only New Hampshire newsroom selected in a highly competitive process. By next June, RFA will have helped place 325 reporters in newsrooms across America. We’re grateful that three of those will be right here in Concord.

“Yes, local news is in crisis — but this batch of newsrooms also fills us with tremendous hope,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America in a press release announcing the incoming corps of reporters. “Newsrooms across the country are pushing to cover essential local beats like schools and rural areas, at the same time they try to better represent all of the people in their communities.”

An update

The other big project we’re developing right now is our Environmental Reporting Lab, which will launch this spring with new staff dedicated to reporting on the New Hampshire environment. We kicked off this effort with a reader donation drive. With the portal on our website and a few mailed checks, donations to this effort are approaching $5,000. Thank you to all who have donated so far. Please know that your investment will lead to more local reporting on this important issue.

The donation drive will continue in the weeks ahead, though now we are turning to the important next step of creating partnerships with New Hampshire-based businesses and funders. If you’re interested in supporting local journalism and you’d like to hear how you can help, contact me at sleone@cmonitor.com.

Also, there’s a quick reader survey atop our website where you can list the environmental topics most important to you.

A heads-up

Keep an eye out for a couple big projects coming this month.

■We’ll be publishing our inaugural impact report in the Dec. 19 Monitor. This is part of our commitment to our readers to tell them what we’ve done over the past year and what we’re planning for 2022. We hope it’ll give you a better sense of our company and our mission.

■Keep an eye out for Hometown Heroes, our year-end collection of stories of members of our communities who have gone above and beyond this year. We received more than 60 nominations this year, and we had to settle on 10 profiles as out 2021 Hometown Heroes. That was no easy task. Thanks to all who sent in nominations this year. Also, a big thank you to Ledyard Bank, our Hometown Heroes sponsor.

■Lastly, we’re wrapping up 2021 and beginning 2022 with two big reporting efforts with a focus on law enforcement in the state. One will examine how a failure in the mental health system has forced police to respond to mental health crises. Without proper training, the encounters can quickly become deadly. In New Hampshire, more than 60% of the people killed by police in the last decade had a mental illness, but through training and additional resources, advocates hope those numbers will drop. The second project is examining the growth of the number of police in New Hampshire over the past 20 years and efforts to diversify the state’s police force. This reporting was developed through public records requests that were sent to every police department in the state.

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