Report for America.

While too many newsrooms across America are contracting, an issue highlighted earlier this year in an episode of 60 Minutes, Voice of OC has expanded to five full time reporters.

This expansion would not have been possible without the support of Report for America. One of the biggest challenges for nonprofit news is staffing on small budgets. That’s where Report for America comes in.  

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. They underwrite half the reporter’s salary over three years leaving the other half to be raised by community donations. RFA hopes this approach will strengthen our communities and democracy through local journalism.  

Our newsroom now boasts three Report For America Fellows. Brandon Pho is our Senior RFA fellow, he joined RFA in 2020. Followed this past June by Hosam Elattar and Noah Biesiada

Taken together these three young reporters have put the newsroom’s reporting on turbo. Just take the  Anaheim FBI corruption scandal. It was all hands on deck as news was breaking daily. Without our RFA fellows we would not have been able to offer our readers more than 30 stories in the first 10 days of the scandal.

“The goal of RFA is to get more reporters into underserved beats and Voice of OC takes that task to heart,” says Teri Hayt, Report for America Deputy Director of Corps Excellence, Region Six Manager. “It’s brilliant to see in action, they hold their governments to account. This doesn’t happen across the country much anymore.”

“Voice of OC walks the walk.”

This summer Report for America brought its entire corps of 300 plus members to Chicago for a conference.It was the first time the members had been together since 2019 and it was the first time many of the fellows were meeting each other.

“It was great to meet reporters from across the country,” said Elattar of the Chicago conference. “It was interesting to see both the commonalities and the differences between all the newsrooms. And it was great to meet other Arab and North African reporters. An amazing experience.”

As a year three RFA Fellow, Pho found himself not only a senior fellow but a newsroom leader as well. 

“RFA put me in a number of workshops focused on newsroom leadership,” he said. “I’m so grateful to them for providing the funding that lets me do the reporting I want to do. I look forward to doing training or workshops in the future for RFA. I plan to stay connected and give back.”

For Biesiada Chicago offered, “the opportunity to connect with other journalists, there were journalists from all 50 states and Guam. It was great to see the incredible impact and the work created by the other corps members.”

In recent years the newsroom also has become an important trainer for RFA reporters covering city halls across the country. 

“Voice of OC has three very talented reporters. We are so happy to support Voice.” says Hayt. “Norberto has a sharp eye for talent and understands the community.”

**To underwrite a reporter’s salary directly, send an inquiry to Voice of OC Development Director Meg Waters at mwaters@voiceofoc.org.**

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