We just heard about what appears to be a truly terrific idea: Report For America, which seems to be a journalistic analog for Teach for America. Read about it here. Just as Teach for America places young Americans in classrooms and gives them an early exposure to teaching, Report for America places young Americans in newsrooms and gives them early experience in reporting. Reporters, especially beginners, don’t earn much, but RFA helps. The newspaper pays half the newbie’s salary, RFA a quarter, and “local donor” a quarter. That last bit worries me a little. Any local wealthy enough to bankroll a quarter of a reporter’s salary is likely to be newsworthy herself, which sets up a conflict of interest if the reporter is dependent on the subject of his story for a quarter of his salary.
But that’s a quibble. If you’re young and daunted by how to break into journalism, you might give Report for America a look.