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100 Days in Appalachia awarded Report for America position

100 Days Graphic

100 Days in Appalachia, an independent, nonprofit news outlet and learning lab for students in the West Virginia University Reed College of Media, is among 164 organizations nationally to be named a 2020 Report for America (RFA) newsroom. RFA employs and embeds talented, emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues and communities.

100 Days was founded in 2016 and has garnered a national reputation as a go-to source for real stories coming out of Appalachia told by the journalists and community members living and working there. It is an ongoing, evolving project that aims to change the national perception of Appalachia, but it’s also an innovative platform that experiments with new digital storytelling and community engagement techniques.

“This is a great opportunity for 100 Days and an important investment in our region,” said Editor in Chief Dana Coester . “This will strengthen our investigative work in Appalachia and help us build new collaborations across the region with other RFA reporters.”

Each year, Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project , conducts a rigorous national competition where newsrooms apply and are each evaluated at least four times by some 50 judges including former editors and reporters, journalism professors, and more. Once the news organizations are named, journalists apply and are chosen through another selective national competition. The journalists begin working in their paired newsrooms in June.

RFA will place a full-time reporter in the 100 Days newsroom specifically for data-based and digital forensic investigative journalism work. They will work alongside Coester, Digital Managing Editor Ashton Marra and other 100 Days team members in the Media Innovation Center.

“In addition to strengthening the investigative arm of 100 Days, this position reflects an area where we’re investing more resources for both 100 Days and the College curriculum,” said Coester, who is also an associate professor in the College of Media.

The Media College is developing new curriculum in digital forensics and investigative reporting and is hiring a full-time professional-in-residence faculty position to help develop and teach in this program. Students will learn traditional and emerging investigative methods while producing high-quality projects for potential distribution in both print and digital outlets including 100 Days.

100 Days is operated in conjunction with West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) and The Daily Yonder of the Center for Rural Strategies in Kentucky. It has an open-source, co-publishing model and shares content from Appalachia’s diverse communities with regional, national and international media organizations.

According to the 2020 RFA announcement, many of the selected news organizations represent new models in journalism with innovative approaches to community investment. Others are traditional newspapers with strong records of public service that publish daily or weekly.

The 2020 newsroom winners are comprised of 69 daily newspapers, 39 digital-only sites, 39 public radio stations, 12 local TV stations and 5 non-daily papers. They report on a variety of beats including state legislatures, overlooked rural areas and urban communities, local government, veterans’ issues, aging populations, education, the environment, health care, military bases and housing.

To view the full list of winning newsrooms, visit https://www.reportforamerica.org/2019/12/01/the-2020-21-report-for-america-newsrooms-and-beats/. Applications for reporting slots are being accepted through Jan. 31 at https://www.reportforamerica.org/application/.