Report for America today announced the selection of 225 journalists for its 2020 reporting corps. The new cohort will be placed with more than 160 local news organizations in 45 states and Puerto Rico. For the first time, an RFA reporter is being placed with Montana Free Press.

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of the nonprofit news organization The GroundTruth Project. 

Montana Free Press editor-in-chief John Adams announced that RFA corps member Chris Aadland will join MTFP’s nonprofit newsroom in June and will cover Native American issues, COVID-19 fallout and the Montana Legislature. 

Aadland, who spent his first year as a Report for America corps member in Wyoming reporting on the Wind River Indian Reservation for the Casper Star-Tribune, will be based in Billings. 

“We are thrilled to partner with The GroundTruth Project and Report for America to bring this talented journalist to Montana,” Adams said. 

Editor Brad Tyer added that Aadland will dramatically expand MTFP’s ability to cover Montana’s tribal communities and eastern Montana at large. 

“Chris brings experience and expertise to our growing newsroom that’s going to be invaluable in helping us serve parts of the state that are hungry for quality coverage now more than ever,” Tyer said.    

Aadland and a colleague shared a Wyoming Press Association Pacemaker award for a story revealing a dark money lobbying effort by one of the state’s tribes. Aadland previously worked at the Wisconsin State Journal, where he covered public safety, city government, breaking news and other subjects. As a student at the University of Minnesota, he was the managing editor of the award-winning student-run Minnesota Daily and a student reporter for the Twin Cities newspaper the Star Tribune. 

Aadland, whose father is an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, began learning the Ojibwe language at the University of Minnesota and developed a desire to contribute to nuanced coverage of Indian Country as a journalist.

“It’s exciting to be joining a growing newsroom and work with such talented journalists,” Aadland said. “I can’t wait to move a few hours north and get started. I’m also eager to continue covering Indian Country. It’s good to be in another newsroom that believes highlighting issues affecting indigenous people is so important.” 

This year’s Report for America corps was chosen after a highly selective national competition that drew more than 1,800 applications. Leading journalists, editors and academics from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and media platforms served as judges. 

“We are very excited to expand Montana Free Press’ ability to provide in-depth coverage of the issues that matter to Montanans,” Adams said. “Chris’ contributions to Montana’s journalism landscape should make an immediate and lasting mark.”

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