Report for America

We’re proud to be heading into our second year with Report for America. It is a tremendous honor for the Victoria Advocate to be part of this exciting new vision for sustaining local journalism.

Only news organizations that had successful first years qualify for this national nonprofit‘s competitive program. Report for America’s mission is to strengthen our communities and our democracy through local journalism that is truthful, fearless, fair and smart. For the first year of the program, the Advocate was one of only 11 news organizations selected nationwide.

In year two, we plan to have reporter Ciara McCarthy focus on rural health issues. At least 14 rural hospitals have closed in Texas since 2010 – more than in any other state. Almost 16 percent of Texans lack health insurance.

Nationwide health epidemics, including opioid addiction and increasing rates of suicide, are serious issues here in the Crossroads but have largely been uncovered. In addition, the health effects of the thousands of people who live and work close to petrochemical plants are still unclear. Some of the most basic questions Crossroads residents have about their wellbeing – if the water is safe to drink and the air is safe to breathe – are difficult to answer because of the opaque information from the companies and the state.

Many of these critical and complex public health issues are compounded in rural Crossroads communities, where people live far from hospitals or doctors. They are less likely to receive the preventative care that can stop serious health issues before they worsen.

The first year of Report for America allowed the Victoria Advocate to produce the award-winning series “Hidden in Plain Sight” about Hurricane Harvey recovery and the ongoing investigation into the Calhoun Port Authority called “Port Politics.” If you would like to see more of this important local journalism, we need your help.

The Victoria Advocate is looking for local support to help cover part of the reporter’s salary through the Report for America program. The donation is tax-deductible and matched in part by the national nonprofit. Most importantly, all the money goes toward good journalism designed to improve our community.

This year, we are trying to raise $26,250. Any portion of that from you, no matter how small, would be deeply appreciated. You may donate online through a special web link set up for this purpose or by sending a check. The second year of the program begins in June, so we are trying a new crowdfunding effort in May working with our partners at News Revenue Hub. If you’re a listener of National Public Radio, you likely are familiar with such fundraising campaigns.

We don’t have a tote bag to offer like NPR, but we deeply appreciate your consideration of support for our second year with this innovative program. This has been one of the most rewarding times of my 37-year journalism career, and our work with Report for America is hugely responsible for that.

The Victoria Advocate celebrates its 173rd birthday exactly one week from today. Across almost two centuries, the newspaper has changed dramatically in terms of the incredible technology we use and the expanded reach of our reporting and audience. But our mission remains the same: Seek truth and report it.

With your support, we will carry out this quest for another 173 years.

Chris Cobler is the editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at ccobler@vicad.com or 361-574-1271.

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