NEW YORK – The Associated Press and Report for America are hiring 17 journalists to boost the AP's statehouse coverage.
The journalists will cover beats including climate change, public health policy, infrastructure and voting security. They will help enhance statewide coverage of elections and help chronicle the state economic and policy decisions that are being developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A data journalist will help deliver policy-focused datasets that help individual newsrooms tell customized stories for their own communities.
Report for America is an initiative of the nonprofit news organization The GroundTruth Project and places emerging journalists in local newsrooms. The AP hires are part of 225 journalists in the 2020 Report for America reporting corps being hosted by 160 news organizations in 45 states and Puerto Rico.
“The AP-Report for America partnership ensures that we are able to provide and build upon the high quality news we break from the nation's statehouses," Noreen Gillespie, the AP's deputy managing editor for U.S. news, said Thursday in announcing the appointments.
The journalists bring a mix of local news experience and a background of strong policy reporting to the AP:
— Farnoush Amiri, Columbus, Ohio. As a news associate for the AP based in New York, Amiri specializes in searching, securing and verifying user generated content for breaking news. She has also worked as a digital reporter at NBC News. She will focus on abortion regulations, gun control, voter access and redistricting.
— Bryan Anderson, Raleigh, North Carolina. Anderson has been a political reporter for The Sacramento Bee where he created the “California Nation” podcast and received an award for his investigation of breakdowns of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles automatic voter registration program.
— Cedar Attanasio, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Attanasio is an award-winning reporter for the AP currently based in El Paso, Texas, where he has documented the impact of changing immigration policy on the border. He is a native of New Mexico and will focus on education and poverty in his new role.
— Sara Cline, Salem, Oregon. Cline will cover the intersection of the tech boom and the housing crisis in Oregon. She previously covered city government and homelessness at the San Antonio Express-News through the Hearst Fellowship Program.
— Acacia Coronado, Austin, Texas. Coronado will focus on the politics of climate change. She covered immigration and human rights as a fellow at The Texas Observer, was an investigative fellow at The Texas Tribune and interned at The Wall Street Journal. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas.
— Sophia Eppolito, Salt Lake City. Eppolito is currently a news associate for the AP based in New York. She will cover the intersection of religion and state government in Utah. She has worked as a general assignment reporter at The Boston Globe and covered the statehouse for The Sun in Lowell, Massachusetts.
— Camille Fassett, data journalist, San Francisco. Fassett has been a reporter for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. She has documented press freedom violations for the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
— Andy Tsubasa Field, Topeka, Kansas. Tsubasa Field will focus on cutbacks to schools, prisons and other programs at the statehouse. He is a local government reporter at The Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota.
— Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, Frankfort, Kentucky. Hudspeth Blackburn will concentrate on issues affecting Appalachia. She has covered politics in Washington for audiences in upstate New York and Texas while a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill D.C. program.
— Mohamed Ibrahim, St. Paul, Minnesota. Ibrahim will concentrate on energy and environmental policy. He has worked as an intern at Minnesota Public Radio and at the Star Tribune covering St. Paul and the surrounding area.
— Michelle Liu, Columbia, South Carolina. Liu is a current Report for America corps member at Mississippi Today, where she has used records requests and strong sourcing to break news about the state's prison system.
— Samuel Metz, Carson City, Nevada. Metz will focus on water, education and health care. He most recently covered politics for The Desert Sun and the USA Today Network in Palm Springs, California.
— Anna Nichols, Lansing, Michigan. Nichols will focus on ailing infrastructure. A graduate of Michigan State University, she received national attention for her journalism on the sexual assault scandal involving gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar.
— Patty Nieberg, Denver. Nieberg has worked for the AP in Jerusalem and was a Jerusalem Press Club fellow. While at Northwestern University's Medill News Service, she reported on military commission hearings from Guantanamo Bay. She will focus on public health in Colorado.
— Iris Samuels, Helena, Montana. Samuels reported and investigated stories on local government, education and health care for the Kodiak Daily Mirror in Alaska. She was raised in Israel and completed her mandatory military service as an intelligence analyst.
— Casey Smith, Indianapolis. Smith focused on the environment, law enforcement accountability and juvenile justice as a graduate research fellow at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She has had internships and fellowships at The Indianapolis Star, the Investigative Reporting Workshop, The Washington Post, National Geographic and USA Today. She has also reported on water quality across South America.
— Leah Willingham, Jackson, Mississippi. Willingham comes to the AP from the Concord Monitor. She was named the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s Rookie of the Year in 2018.
The journalists will begin in June and will be with the AP through December 2021.
The journalists’ work will be available to AP member news organizations and customers, as well as to other news outlets in the states in which they report, such as nonprofit news organizations.