By the time you read this you may already have heard the work of a new reporter who will be working in the JPR newsroom. Following a national search, Jes Burns has been selected as the new Southern Oregon EarthFix reporter based at JPR. Jes comes to the Rogue Valley from Eugene where she’s worked for KLCC since 2007 as a reporter and All Things Considered host. She’s produced some great features on environmental issues while covering KLCC’s science/technology feature beat. Jes has also produced spot news and features as a freelancer for NPR, Sirius Radio’s OutQ News and The Takeaway. In announcing Jes’ selection, EarthFix editor David Steves wrote that Jes was chosen for “her passion for storytelling, her track record of collaborating with teammates, and her commitment to reaching audiences through digital as well as broadcast platforms.”
EarthFix is one of seven Local Journalism Centers (LJCs) funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in 2009 and 2010 to enhance the ability of public radio and television stations to create high quality local journalism. The LJCs that were created are comprised of groups of 3–8 stations, which work collaboratively to create and distribute multi-media content and conduct community engagement activities around one particular regional topic. EarthFix is an LJC that was established to cover the regional environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. Original stations included Oregon Public Broadcasting, Idaho Public Television, KCTS Seattle, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, Northwest Public Radio and Television and Southern Oregon Public Television. Later, other stations joined the partnership, including JPR and KLCC in Oregon.
CPB began the effort to create LJCs recognizing that many communities were losing local news coverage because of cutbacks in commercial journalism outlets. CPB believed that public media’s limited capacity for producing original journalism could be expanded if stations worked together to define common regional issues and collaborated to leverage each other’s resources to address those issues. In the end, the objective of the program was to create journalism that was deeper, connected places within a regional context and better informed citizens. Of the LJCs that were established, EarthFix has been considered one of the most successful. For us here in Southern Oregon, issues related to the environment are central to so many other aspects of our society. From the economics of effectively and sustainably managing timber harvests to balancing the need for water by farmers with preserving healthy fish habitat, from exploring the agricultural practices of the burgeoning medical marijuana-growing business to dealing with the exploding costs of extinguishing wildfires during an era of drought and climate change, regional environmental issues touch our culture in myriad ways that affect how we make our livings and how much funding is available for public safety and our schools.
We look forward to our continued partnership with other EarthFix stations around the Northwest, generating interesting, fact-based stories that illuminate the nuances of the complex and interrelated environmental issues that face our region. And, we welcome Jes to a talented JPR newsroom that works hard each day to explore local and regional issues with the highest journalistic standards for accuracy, balance and integrity.
Paul Westhelle, Executive Director | Jefferson Public Radio