37 local NPR and PBS affiliates will be receiving over $10 million in total funding in order to better cover local and regional news stories. The funding is intended to make up for a fledgling newspaper industry.

On Thursday, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced the creation of local journalism centers in five regions. NPR and PBS stations in each region will collaborate on covering key issues, including immigration, agribusiness, the economy and health care. They will jointly hire about 50 multimedia journalists.

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The funding initially targets the Southwest, the Plains states, the upper Midwest, upstate New York and central Florida. Proposals also are being accepted from stations in the South and Northwest, and Harrison hopes to expand the effort.

It will involve 37 local stations, though at least 100 applied. To date, 13 radio stations, 13 joint ventures operating both radio and TV outlets, and one stand-alone TV station have signed on. Stations were selected on the basis of a business plan that included an outline for becoming self-sustaining within two years.

“The idea of pulling together radio and television for content that is broadcast and online this is going to be our template going forward,” Harrison said.

The Corporation – already the single largest source of funding for NPR and PBS – will provide $7.5 million of the investment for the project, while the stations involved contribute $3 million.

Preparing public broadcasting to fill in for failing private media is a great move on behalf of American citizens. Though just part of a larger effort, providing Americans with substantive coverage of issues (as opposed to personality) is an important step in increasing civic engagement.

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