Journalism is vital to our health, our democracies, and our communities.
Since our inception, The GroundTruth Project, home to Report for America, has worked to restore journalism from the ground up. And 2020 demanded more of us and our partners in every way.
Faced with a global pandemic and a reckoning on racial justice in the U.S., our reporters were on the frontlines showing up for their communities every day. We met the moment, growing our programs and operations by 400% in 2020 to train and support more emerging journalists than ever before.
On The Ground
In their first story as part of their work on the Gun Violence Project at The Kansas City Star, Humera and Jelani spent months interviewing residents, speaking with experts and analyzing data to understand how the city’s policing problems are driving gun violence. Their reporting shows that people were Tased, beaten and arrested without reason. In some cases, mothers have had to fight to ensure their children’s homicide cases are investigated, and for charges to be brought against the people who killed them.
Massive amounts of defective personal protective equipment sent to New Hampshire nursing homes by FEMA — like isolation gowns without armholes, extra small gloves, and masks with dysfunctional ear loops — have gone unused. Eighty percent of New Hampshire’s total COVID-19 deaths so far have been residents of nursing homes. It is one of several states to report problems with equipment sent by FEMA. “[The defective PPE] is basically representative that they’re treating health care workers like garbage,” said Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association.
For communities of color, a culturally specific therapist is crucial because many of the issues they face are a direct result of racism and other oppressive factors such as high poverty rates. OHA health assessments show that those in poverty and with other disadvantages are more likely to experience mental distress.
A relatively small island of 68 square miles, Samothraki has mostly escaped the attention of mass tourism and is home to less than 3,000 inhabitants. Strangely, it also hosts a staggering 50,000 goats, most of which are “semi-wild” and roam freely. The results of this ecological imbalance, fueled by questionable governmental and local decisions, are coming back to haunt the people of Samothraki in a dramatic fashion.
The sites of the First Gulf War, officially termed the “Holy Defense,” have been turned into memorial theme parks. It is part of the Iranian collective memory that once children crawled there in mine fields. Now, people visit these parks on sponsored trips to pay tribute to martyrdom.
The U.S. 2020 Census puts more than $1.5 trillion in federal funds up for grabs, with money for food assistance, childcare, Medicaid and many other services dependent on an accurate count. Small cities like Lordsburg, New Mexico, are often the toughest to survey, and they will bear the brunt of the U.S. Census Bureau ending its data collection efforts a full month earlier than expected. New Mexico misses out on $3,700 in federal funds per year for every person who doesn’t get counted. For Lordsburg, a massive undercount could mean the beginning of the end.
Voters like Mercado and Díaz belong to the non-Cuban Hispanic demographic in Florida, which makes up roughly 70% of eligible Latino voters in Florida, according to Census data from 2018. They have roots in Nicaragua and across Latin America. They are also part of Florida’s crucial independent swing voters, because many Nicaraguans and others in the Hispanic and Latino population do not identify with either Republicans or Democrats.
During the months Jackson spent in custody at San Diego Central Jail and George Bailey Detention Facility, he registered about 200 of his fellow inmates to vote ahead of the 2018 municipal elections. Nearly all, he said, were surprised to learn that Californians in pretrial incarceration can legally vote, or that their votes for city council members or judges could affect their own futures.
For more than a month, India has been awash with protests. Triggered by the December 12 passage of the highly contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them students, have taken to the streets in defiance of the latest in a string of anti-Muslim policies rolled out by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.
While Jawad’s family was unable to provide his grandparents with a traditional Islamic funeral due to Italy’s lockdown measures, they had the rare luxury, for Italian Muslims, to be buried in an Islamic cemetery. Before the pandemic struck, fewer than 60 of Italy’s 7,903 municipalities had a dedicated Islamic cemetery, in a country that is home to more than 2 million Muslims.
COVID-19 cases were spiking nationwide, George Floyd had just been murdered, and concerns about the security of our election were in question. Our 226 Report for America corps members were on the ground and ready to serve.
A rapidly growing corps
We all had different plans for 2020, including our global reporting fellows. They shifted gears, reporting on how the pandemic was affecting migrant communities, the U.S. election, and more.
Through it all, GroundTruth is proud that our journalists stayed resilient, resourceful and committed to elevating voices of local communities to global conversations.
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Photo credits (in order of appearance): 1. KT Kanazawich / Flint Beat, Report for America 2. Silas Walker / Lexington Herald-Leader 3. Brittany Greeson / GroundTruth 4. Eric Shelton / Mississippi Today, Report for America 5. Jaida Grey Eagle / Sahan Journal, Report for America 6. Mao Siscar Banyuls / GroundTruth 7. Dee Dwyer / The DCist, Report for America