Grant will fund five reporting positions at L.A. Times


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The Times will add five reporters, including one in Brazil, after receiving a $1-million grant from the Ford Foundation.

An article by Times media reporter James Rainey has the details:


The Los Angeles Times will use a $1-million grant from the Ford Foundation to expand its coverage of key beats, including immigration and ethnic communities in Southern California, the southwest U.S. border and the emerging economic powerhouse of Brazil.

Times Editor Davan Maharaj announced the gift Thursday, calling it ‘great news’ that will bolster coverage of subjects vitally important to readers.

A Ford Foundation spokesman said that, as media organizations face challenges funding reporting through advertising and traditional revenue streams, ‘we and many other funders are experimenting with new approaches to preserve and advance high-quality journalism.’

The Times plans to use the two-year grant to hire journalists who will focus on the Vietnamese, Korean and other immigrant communities, the California prison system, the border region and Brazil. Maharaj said that although The Times already covered those beats, the reporting was typically done by journalists who also had other responsibilities. The five new reporters will provide more robust coverage of those topics.

A memo from Maharaj (below) notes that the grant comes ‘with no strings attached.’

‘We have complete control over editorial content and are free to pursue whatever stories we deem appropriate,’ Maharaj said.

The memo to the newsroom from Editor Davan Maharaj:

The Los Angeles Times has been awarded a $1.04-million, two-year Ford Foundation grant to support additional reporters in the newsroom. The new staff members will focus on specific beats: immigration and ethnic communities in Southern California, the California prison system, the Southwest border region and one of the most important international stories in our region, Brazil. These are vital coverage areas that have been affected by our need to make tough choices in the past decade. Although the grant is for two years, we intend to continue with these beats beyond that period. We will immediately start our search for reporters. The grant comes with no strings attached. We have complete control over editorial content and are free to pursue whatever stories we deem appropriate.

The grant is part of a new initiative by the Ford Foundation to increase coverage of issues involving inequality, injustice and disparity. Although the foundation has supported research and reporting projects in the past, this grant is among its first that directly supports a private media organization. To avoid any conflict of interest, the money will be paid from a portfolio separate from the foundation’s other grant programs.

It’s a wonderful opportunity. Our journalism -- and our readers -- will be better for it.