The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded a $278,300 grant to four Arkansas public radio stations to support the establishment of a statewide multimedia journalism collaboration based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Natural State News will be a statewide news service focusing on reaching rural areas of the state.
KUAR, UALR’S public radio station, will be the lead station for the project, joined by Fayetteville’s KUAF, Jonesboro’s KASU, and Texarkana’s KTXK. Ben Fry, general manager of KUAR and classical station KLRE, will lead the collaboration to create and broadcast thematically unified content relevant to the interests and needs of Arkansans.
Though the stations have often collaborated, the radio news service marks their first official joint venture. Together, the stations’ staff members at the stations will report stories centered on three themes:
NSN will report breaking news as well as produce related special interest stories. The resulting multimedia content will be published online and heard on local and national public radio programs such as NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Here and Now.
“CPB is pleased to support this historic collaboration of Arkansas public media stations,” said Bruce Theriault, senior vice president of journalism and radio, CPB. “The Natural State News collaboration is an example of increased media integration and a pathway for stations to work together to maximize resources while expanding their high-quality journalism.”
The grant will help fund four new positions: a managing editor, two additional reporters, and a partner manager, who will raise additional funds for the project. Three of the new positions will be based in Little Rock, with one reporter to work out of Jonesboro.
Natural State News plans to break new ground with in-depth multimedia reporting to reach extensively into rural Arkansas to tell unfolding stories about wealth, poverty, race, and decision-making in education, healthcare, and the environment. Little-told stories from the region will give a distinctive vantage point for understanding larger national experiences.
NSN will partner with the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), and the print publication El Latino to provide and promote its diverse, nuanced content. All stories will be available in both Spanish and English, and NSN is committed to supporting diversity in its staff, student interns, and stories.