Concerned by both the critical challenges at the heart of America’s economic system and the need to focus more public attention on addressing these challenges, Omidyar Network last year launched a new program aimed at increasing quality news coverage of pressing but often overlooked economic issues. The Reporters in Residence program aims to expand the amount and quality of reporting on big-picture economic issues by generating more news stories on topics such as the growing movement for worker power, the changing role of corporations in society, and new policy ideas that could fundamentally alter the shape of our economy.
The Reporters in Residence program started in 2023 with the selection of three freelance reporters from a competitive pool of more than 50 applicants. Over the course of their six month residences, each journalist receives a monthly stipend, travel expenses, and access to Omidyar Network staff and partners. Following our commitment to transparency and journalistic independence, the reporters maintain full editorial control and discretion over their work.
Each reporter is tied to one of the core programmatic areas within Omidyar Network’s Reimagining Capitalism area of practice – which works to shape a new, inclusive economy where markets serve the interests of all people and society – and includes New Economic Paradigms; Worker Power; and Corporations, Capital Markets & the Common Good among its focus areas.
Since early January, our three inaugural Reporters in Residence – Bryce Covert, Kim Kelly, and Edward Ongweso Jr. – have published more than a dozen stories on topics ranging from improving workers’ access to childcare to the debate over the Federal Reserve’s approach to addressing inflation to the Warrior Met coal miner strike, believed to be the longest labor strike in Alabama’s history. Their stories ran in publications such as ABC News, Fast Company, In These Times, The Nation, The New York Times, Slate, and Teen Vogue, among many others, reaching a wide and diverse reader audience.
“The funding and support from the Reporter in Residence program allowed me to go deeper on topics than I normally would have, as well as pursue larger, longer-term stories that I hope will have a bigger impact,” said Covert, an economics reporter who focuses on the ways economic policies affect workers and families. In her latest piece for In These Times, Covert covered the impact of the Dobbs decision on one Mississippi woman, illustrating the broader economic consequences of the ruling for countless families and communities.
In addition to increasing reporting on important economic issues, the residency gives talented writers an opportunity to spend more time researching and developing stories. This often results in richer content that helps paint a fuller picture for readers.
“The Reporters in Residence program has really let me pursue the sort of research projects and long-term reporting that I’ve always felt a little too stretched thin to take up,” said Ongweso, Jr., a former staff writer at Motherboard, VICE’s technology section, and co-host of the This Machine Kills, a podcast examining the political economy of technology. His piece for Slate on the role of tech investors in the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank landed him an appearance on ABC News, where he discussed the role of venture capitalists in the latest banking crisis.
Kelly echoed the important role the Reporters in Residence program plays in allowing freelance journalists to devote more time to the kind of deep, nuanced reporting needed to drive national conversations.
“This residency has made such a massive difference for me. The support from the Omidyar Network team was invaluable, and the stability and peace of mind it afforded me was priceless,” said Kelly, a freelance labor journalist, author, and organizer. “It gave me the breathing room I needed to dig into stories that may have otherwise gone untold.” One of those in-depth stories covered the resurgence of Black Lung, highlighting how the decline of unions and government regulation in the coal industry has exposed a whole new generation of coal miners to this vicious disease.
Although Covert, Ongweso, Jr., and Kelly will be wrapping their residencies at the end of June, there are still many more stories to tell. Omidyar Network recently opened the call for the next cohort of Reporters in Residence. Freelance journalists with at least five years of experience, a current U.S. work authorization, and an interest in producing more in-depth coverage of economic issues as they relate to societal outcomes are encouraged to apply. Applications are being accepted through June 9 and selected journalists will be announced on July 12.
A steady stream of strong reporting from a variety of viewpoints is vital to Omidyar Network’s efforts to improve our economic system. Since starting this program, Edward, Kim, and Bryce have done an amazing job of sharing many important stories that may not have otherwise been told. We are proud of the work they’ve accomplished and look forward to supporting a new cohort of writers in the second half of this year.
Interested journalists can learn more and apply here.