NPR says $4.7 million grant boosts local news efforts

NEW YORK (AP) — National Public Radio said Tuesday that it has received a $4.7 million grant that will allow it to fund investigative reporting units for regional hubs in California and the Midwest.

The money comes to NPR from a foundation set up by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy. It’s the largest gift NPR has received for its collaborative journalism work.

With the money, NPR is adding a newsroom that connects its member stations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. The Schmidt grant also funds a news-sharing effort in California that was announced earlier this year. NPR already has regional hubs in Texas and a newer one for the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

“With so many newsrooms in decline, we need to invest in strengthening reporting resources from trusted sources like public radio,” Wendy Schmidt said. “These regional news hubs will not only increase local reporting of critical issues, they will also elevate diverse voices and perspectives in regional and national stories.”

The newsrooms will hire small teams of journalists to work with local station reporters on public service investigations, said Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for news and editorial director.

She called it “the type of journalism that has been eroding at the local level as newspapers scale back.”

NPR says it has plans for more regional newsrooms.