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Report for America to support news from around the Straits, fund IPR and Record-Eagle partnership

Map of the northern tip of lower Michigan, the coverage area for the new reporter.
Google Earth
Map of the northern tip of lower Michigan, the coverage area for the new reporter.

There will be a new reporter working around the Straits of Mackinac next year. Report for America today announced it will support a position in the northern tip of lower Michigan, one of 150 new jobs receiving funding from the national journalism project.

The “Straits Desk” reporter will be part of Interlochen Public Radio’s news team and work in collaboration with the Traverse City Record-Eagle. The job will be based in Emmet County, or nearby, and report from the region above and below the Mackinac Bridge.

IPR broadcasts in that region on WHBP-Harbor Springs 90.1 and WIAB-Mackinac City 88.5. Interlochen reporters do travel to report from communities in that region as well as into the UP. Executive Director Peter Payette says the station has wanted a reporter working and living in that iconic part of the state for years.

“Now we have one, thanks to Report for America,” he says.

Report for America is a national service program devoted to strengthening local journalism. In 2022, the program will support a total 325 reporters in nearly 270 newsrooms across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The costs of the reporters are shared by the program and the host newsrooms.

The proposal from IPR and the Record-Eagle came out of conversations between Payette and the newspaper’s Executive Editor, Nate Payne, about finding ways to sustain journalism.

"This is an exciting step to bring two of northern Michigan's most established newsrooms together to serve communities that have been caught in a growing news desert,” says Payne. “We are ecstatic for Report for America's continued and expanding investment in local journalism in northern Michigan.”

Report for America, which is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program

(with an option for three years) that delivers a wide-range of benefits to its corps members.

Beyond paying up to half of the journalists’ salaries, it provides ongoing training, peer networking and memberships to professional organizations.

To help connect corps members to the community, they are required to do a service project,

which often includes engaging middle or high school students in journalism related activities.

Corps members will be selected from a highly-competitive, national competition. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received. Those hired become employees of their respective newsrooms on June 1, 2022.

“Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to pursue meaningful, local

beat reporting that—sadly—is missing from many of today’s newsrooms,” says Earl Johnson,

director of admissions at Report for America. “We are looking for a diversity of individuals who see journalism as a calling, who want to make a

difference within their communities.”

Peter Payette is the Executive Director of Interlochen Public Radio and has managed the news department since 2001. For more than a decade, he hosted the weekly program