The Sarasota Herald-Tribune will welcome a new reporter to its staff next month as one of 200 host news organizations in the Report for America program, which seeks to strengthen and build new sustainable models for local journalism.
The Herald-Tribune was selected to receive a Report for America corps member in a national competitive process. The reporter, Gabriela Szymanowska, will cover criminal justice, the courts and the legal system for the paper in the yearlong, renewable position.
Report for America, an initiative of the nonprofit Ground Truth Project, is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.
Report for America provides half the salary of a full-time reporting position to the local newsrooms it selects. The Herald-Tribune will be seeking community and philanthropic support to raise the rest of the cost.
“We feel very fortunate to have been selected from among hundreds of newsrooms nationwide to host a Report for America corps member,” said Jennifer Orsi, executive editor of the Herald-Tribune. "We are excited to partner with a program helping to strengthen local journalism across the United States.
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“We have had a strong history of covering the legal and criminal justice system, which is such an important institution in the community,” Orsi said, pointing to award-winning projects like "Bias on the Bench," which revealed disparate sentences by race in Florida courts. “But as the business model for local newspapers has become more challenging, we have not had a dedicated courts and criminal justice reporter in some time. We are so pleased to have Gabi covering these important topics."
“We look forward to partnering with the Herald-Tribune and helping to support your corps member,” said Kim Kleman, senior vice president of Report for America. “There are few beats more essential to communities than courts coverage. We’re happy to help you deepen this coverage with the addition of Gabriela Szymanowska to your team.”
Szymanowska is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and worked as a public safety and breaking news reporter for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., following internships with the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel and News21 in Phoenix, Ariz. She has received several awards for her work, including being part of the team from the Carnegie-Knight News21 program to win the 2021 Robert F. Kennedy Human
Rights College Journalism Award for “Kids Imprisoned.”
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"I am thrilled to join the Sarasota Herald-Tribune covering crucial issues in the judicial system that impact so many people every day. I joined Report For America because I believe in the importance of local journalism in helping to get communities the information they need to make decisions that affect their daily lives," Szymanowska said. "I'm excited to diligently work to get the answers the people need from the judicial system to strengthen their community."
As part of the Report for America service program's goal to foster deeper ties between local news organizations and their communities, Szymanowska will create and execute a community service program during her time in Sarasota.
How to Help
Readers can help support the Herald-Tribune's Report for America corps member by going to bit.ly/RFAHT, contacting RFA@heraldtribune.com or by sending a tax-deductible donation to Herald-Tribune/RFA, 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL, 34236. Please make checks payable to GroundTruth Project/RFA .
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Herald-Tribune welcomes Report for America reporter to cover courts