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Michigan Radio and NPR Announce Partnership to Improve Rural Reporting

Michigan Radio, the public radio stations of the University of Michigan, and National Public Radio (NPR) have announced a joint partnership to improve the quality of rural reporting in the United States. As part of a three-year program funded by a $495,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, NPR’s Howard Berkes will be reporting from across the country on issues of importance to America’s rural communities.

Berkes will become NPR’s first rural affairs correspondent. His focus will include the politics, economics, and culture of rural America, providing perspective on major issues and events. Berkes first joined NPR more than 20 years ago. In 1981, he pioneered NPR’s coverage of the interior of the American West and public lands issues. He has traveled thousands of miles since then, capturing the voices and sounds of real-life America.

“We are delighted to work with NPR to fill this very serious gap in American journalism,” said Donovan Reynolds, Director of Broadcasting at the University of Michigan. “Too often media coverage of rural issues, when it is attempted at all, is shallow and simply serves to reinforce stereotypes,” he said.

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s grant will pay for the production of more than 30 in-depth features that will be heard over the next three years during national broadcasts of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition on NPR.

“The Kellogg Foundation has had a 73 year partnership with rural people,” said Rick Foster, Vice President for Programs at the Kellogg Foundation. “Helping rural America get its story out through public radio will benefit rural, urban and suburban people.”

Ellen Weiss, a senior editor at NPR, added, “This collaboration with Michigan Radio will enable NPR to bring the voices, lives and concerns of rural Americans to the air. We want to help focus national attention on one of the least covered segments of society and make rural America real to the listener.”

Michigan Radio is WUOM 91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit, WVGR 104.1 Grand Rapids, and WFUM 91.1 Flint michiganradio.org.

Michigan Television is WFUM-TV Flint Channel 28 michigantelevision.org.

Michigan Radio and Michigan Television are services of Michigan Public Media.

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