Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Grant funds Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, a reporting network based at Missouri School of Journalism

The Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water desk website has this map of the basin.

The Mississippi River basin, which covers almost half the continental United States, will be the focus of "a collaborative network of journalists focused on increasing coverage of agriculture, water and environmental issues," based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

The Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk is funded with a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation, which a university news release calls "a leading funder of environmental journalism in the United States."

By partnering with Report for America, the network will put 10 journalists in newsrooms in the region to cover issues such as pollution, flooding, land use and climate change, with training and mentorship from the journalism school, along with experts from the Society of Environmental Journalists. The journalists will also be supported by five veteran journalists from the region who will serve as advisers and collaborators.

Content will be delivered to regional and national audiences. The journalism school will hire an editorial director and associate director to help run the program. Sara Shipley Hiles, an associate professor, is executive director of the project. Earnest Perry, associate dean for graduate studies and research, and Ryan Famuliner, associate professor and news director at KBIA-FM, are advisers.

The network will be "a signature program of the School of Journalism’s emerging Center for Science Communication, which will include the development of student courses in immersive, multi-platform storytelling," the release says. David Kurpius, dean of the journalism school, said, “In our service to the public, it is important that journalists are able to help translate these very complex ecological issues to the communities we serve.”

Applications are being accepted from newsrooms for the 10 Report for America positions. Applications for the five veteran journalist positions will open in August.

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