When I first met Sandra Sadek more than two years ago, she was close to graduating from Texas State University and looking to land her first reporting job.
She stood out not only because of her student newspaper experience, but also because of her international background. The daughter of first-generation immigrants, she speaks French and Arabic and talks passionately about amplifying the voices of those she interviews.
The newspaper where I then worked wasn’t hiring, though. In the previous decade, we had cut the newsroom by more than half, and it was on its way to even deeper cuts. The sad plight of print newspapers didn’t stop Sandra, though.
She went on to work for a weekly newspaper in West Texas and then for a business publication in the Metroplex. When she heard about the successful launch of the Fort Worth Report, she wanted to join our nonprofit mission of free, fair and local journalism.
“Journalism gives me the ability to connect with communities and amplify the voices that often are left behind in important conversations,” Sandra says. “For me, it’s a way to hold people accountable for their actions while providing resources to help those who need it — just like public service.”
Sandra worked first for us as a reporting fellow and then applied successfully to be part of Report for America, a national nonprofit formed in 2017 to combat the crisis in local journalism. Most of that crisis centers on this statistic: Newspaper newsroom jobs have decreased from more than 70,000 nationally in 2008 to less than 30,000 today. In some cities, including Fort Worth, those cuts were even deeper.
Report for America addresses this by paying for half of the first-year salary of the reporters it places in newsrooms across the country. The local newsrooms agree to fundraise in their communities to pay the other half of the salary, plus benefits.
That’s where you come in. We need you to click here and donate to support Sandra’s reporting on the successes and challenges created by the rapid growth of Fort Worth. To learn more about Sandra and review the many news stories she’s produced already, check out her bio on our site.
Thank you for supporting Sandra and the Fort Worth Report. We’ve bucked the disturbing trend in local journalism because of you.
I also want to introduce you to three other impressive young journalists at the Report. Through the support of the Amon G. Carter Foundation and the Fort Worth chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, we have three fellows working full time for us this summer:
- Lonyae Coulter is a rising senior in journalism at Texas Christian University, where she has been a reporter, page designer and executive editor of the student newspaper. Born in Flint, Michigan, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Lonyae “loves writing stories where people are doing great things in the community based on the life challenges that they may go through or someone they know that may be going through something.”
- David Moreno is a May broadcast journalism graduate from the University of North Texas. It was while working at the student-run TV station that David fell in love with journalism. There, he found he was able “to incorporate my love for telling stories with different mediums, and I knew this is what I want to do.”
- Chongyang Zhang is a 2021 journalism graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he wrote for the student newspaper. Born in Shen Yang, China, and raised in Singapore, Chongyang was drawn to journalism by “the love of the written word” and being able to report on different parts of a community.
Sandra, Lonyae, David and Chongyang remind me every day how bright the future of journalism can be with your support. Together, we’re building something special in Fort Worth.
Chris Cobler is the CEO and publisher of the Fort Worth Report. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.