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Consortium forms to expand coverage of rural America

August 4, 2021

Newsroom network will investigate inequities in health, work and environmental issues

Nonprofit newsrooms across the U.S. are joining forces through the Institute for Nonprofit News to uncover the most pressing issues confronting rural communities, with a focus on solutions.

A home in El Adobe, CA (California Health Report photo by Martin do Nascimento)

More than 50 INN news outlets already prioritize coverage of rural communities and will form the basis of this two-year collaboration. The project leverages the reporting power of established newsrooms with the sourcing and expertise in place to strengthen regional and national coverage as well as enhance local reports.

“Together INN members constitute one of the largest networks of news organizations covering rural issues in the country. Their expertise will shape the reporting for this project, adding both scope and depth to the coverage,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer.

INN, the largest organization dedicated to strengthening nonprofit news organizations, and member outlets are launching a collaborative fundraising campaign to support the initiative to investigate health, employment and environmental challenges, as well as deliver ongoing coverage from coast to coast.

Two newsrooms known nationally for their rural and agricultural coverage will serve as hubs for the reporting collaboratives: The Daily Yonder, providing news about and for rural America, and Investigate Midwest, with an emphasis on agribusiness. 

“Nonprofit news organizations are helping bring rural communities into important civic conversations,” said Editor Tim Marema of The Daily Yonder. “We’re excited to have the chance to support journalists who are making a difference for rural America.”

“Agriculture is historically fundamental to so many rural communities,” said Pam Dempsey, executive director of Investigate Midwest. “As a hub, we are thrilled to share resources and expertise to help elevate the work from this collaboration.” 

The project will be managed by Bridget Thoreson, member collaborations editor for INN, and Sharon McGowan, INN’s Midwest collaborations editor. 

The network of nonprofit newsrooms in June identified more than 130 potential stories to investigate. From this base, INN and its reporting partners are framing projects that will apply a strong equity lens to coverage of rural America and center underrepresented and marginalized communities. INN member newsrooms are particularly well-equipped to pursue these stories, as their journalists bring well-established community connections and understanding to the communities they cover.

The challenges facing people living in rural communities are as monumental as they are unique, and the rural population is significantly underserved by the  news media. Over the past 18 months, INN members have delivered high-impact, collaborative reporting on the crises facing rural America.

This project will leverage the strength of INN’s members and content distribution partners to share this critical reporting across the country. Previous rural collaborations led by INN include: 

This project is made possible by INN’s generous general support and project funders including  the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Spitzer Trust, the MacArthur Foundation and, in the Midwest, the Joyce Foundation.

To learn more, contact INN’s collaborations team at

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