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Midwest Newsroom will expand thanks to a new $1 million grant

This is the second grant from philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt to support the work of The Midwest Newsroom, a public media collaboration whose lead station is KCUR. The new grant will boost the newsroom's investigative journalism efforts and local coverage.

NPR announced that it has received a $5.5 million grant from philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt through the Schmidt Family Foundation to expand the network's collaborative journalism efforts. This includes $1 million to support expansion of The Midwest Newsroom.

The Midwest Newsroom is an enterprise and investigative reporting collaboration consisting of KCUR, Iowa Public Radio, Nebraska Public Media, St. Louis Public Radio and NPR. Its mission is to produce news coverage with impact for and about the region, and to help build capacity for rigorous multimedia journalism among its partners.

A grant from Eric and Wendy Schmidt through the Schmidt Family Foundation helped launch The Midwest Newsroom in 2021 with a team of five journalists across the partner stations. The team has produced award-winning journalism and public service investigations, including stories recognized with prestigious regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

The new grant will support the growth of The Midwest Newsroom and allow it to connect more public media journalists, develop new partnerships, and invest in content that meets the needs of local audiences. The grant will also strengthen local news coverage in Nebraska and Iowa as part of The Midwest Newsroom.

The new three-year grant will allow the newsroom to add three new positions:

  • An audience and innovation editor will help the newsroom reach new audiences, engage with communities across the region, study the impact of its work, explore potential new partnerships, and consider new digital content initiatives.
  • A second investigative reporter will expand the newsroom's capacity to report on Iowa and Nebraska and to collaborate with reporters at those stations.
  • A yearlong investigative reporting fellowship in each of the three years of the grant will support  an early or mid-career journalist seeking to develop investigative reporting skills in a multimedia environment that emphasizes collaboration. The fellowship is designed to train more Midwest journalists in investigative reporting.

“This generous grant from Eric and Wendy Schmidt allows us to grow in new and exciting directions, as we continue to deliver in-depth news coverage for and about our region,” said Holly Edgell, managing editor of The Midwest Newsroom. The newsroom also receives financial support from its partner stations and NPR.

As news-gathering resources dwindle across the region, The Midwest Newsroom's collaborative approach aims to deliver stories with impact about issues affecting Midwesterners in this four-state region.

KCUR general manager Sarah Morris said, "KCUR is honored to serve as the lead station for The Midwest Newsroom and grateful to the Schmidts for their continued support. It validates our commitment to digging deep into the issues facing our communities and advancing the field of investigative journalism across the region."

NPR noted that Eric and Wendy Schmidt have been active philanthropists since 2006, when they started the Schmidt Family Foundation to address challenges facing communities around the world.

Since 2020, Eric and Wendy Schmidt have provided $10.2 million in gifts to support NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network and enable public radio stations to reach and serve more communities with local, multi-platform public service journalism.

Karen Campbell is the Director of Institutional Giving & Communications for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at karen@kcur.org.
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