WWNO Joins Media Partnership to Cover Gulf States

WWNO radio host Diane Mack (Photo courtesy of WWNO)

NEW ORLEANS – WWNO New Orleans Public Radio and WRKF Baton Rouge are joining forces with stations in Birmingham, Ala., and Jackson, Miss. to launch the Gulf States Newsroom. With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and NPR, this collaboration aims to increase coverage of news events in a region at the intersection of many of today’s most pressing issues. Working together, the stations will coordinate and expand their local and regional reporting, as well as provide content to national broadcast news programs and digital platforms.

CPB is providing a 44-month grant totaling $1,276,299, to launch the effort, which together with NPR’s support enables the creation of six new beat reporting positions and two editing positions dedicated to regional coverage that will be based in each state. In addition, the Gulf States Newsroom will hire a full-time managing editor, based at WBHM in Birmingham, who will direct news coverage and content collaboration among the regional partners and national news outlets.

 “CPB believes in the power of local journalism to support a vibrant civil society,” said Kathy Merritt, CPB senior vice president for Radio and Journalism. “Collaboration is a force multiplier in providing high-quality local journalism. Working with each other and NPR, these stations will offer greater breadth and depth in their news coverage to serve the people of the Gulf region.”

“We are excited to work with stations in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to bridge the widening local news gaps and increase the power of our regional newsroom collaborations,” said Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for news. “We need strong editors and reporters covering local news across the country so we can better serve the public, both locally and nationally, and tell the full story of what is transpiring in all corners of America.”

The Gulf States Newsroom joins statewide newsrooms in Texas and California that received early support from CPB and have been expanded to serve as regional hubs for NPR. The Gulf States Newsroom marks the first time the organizations have collaborated to fund and launch a regional newsroom, part of a larger commitment by CPB, NPR and NPR member stations to enhance local reporting capacity and coverage of issues close to home for many Americans.

The collaborative work comes at a time when local commercial news outlets are quickly disappearing and many people across the nation are losing access to – and connection with – the news events of their communities and states. With the addition of Gulf States Newsroom, CPB has invested more than $37 million in 36 public media collaborations since 2009.

“Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama rank at or near the bottom among states on many measures of health, education, environmental quality and social justice,” said Paul Maassen, general manager of WWNO New Orleans Public Radio and WRKF in Baton Rouge. “The Gulf States Regional Newsroom aims to help local public radio stations build a better-informed populace on issues that matter across the region.”


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