Chicago journalist F. Amanda Tugade will join MLK50: Justice Through Journalism as its first full-time reporter, Report For America, a national service project, announced today.

Tugade is among 225 journalists placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico as part of Report for America’s effort to support local newsrooms reporting on under-covered issues and communities. She starts June 1.

“MLK50 is lucky to land such an experienced and thoughtful reporter as Amanda,” said Wendi C. Thomas, editor and publisher of MLK50. “The leadership team was impressed by her reporting and writing ability, and her experience in community journalism. I am delighted to welcome her to Memphis and our team.”

“MLK50 is lucky to land such an experienced and thoughtful reporter as Amanda.”

Wendi C. Thomas, editor and publisher of MLK50

Tugade hails from the Chicago area where she has worked as a reporter in Chicago and surrounding suburbs for the past six years. In Memphis, the University of Illinois graduate will cover poverty, power and policy and how they affect workers’ ability to make ends meet.

She’s always wanted to know how the world works, Tugade said, and journalism is the way to find out. Her family and the life they built together informs how she does her job.

“It’s the little things… — our emotions, ambitions, successes and regrets — that leave a mark on me. I think about my parents, who moved to the U.S. from Manila and were right around the same age I am now as I’m moving to Memphis. And, to be honest, this is what I carry with me as a reporter,” Tugade said.

“I consider it a privilege when people give me an opportunity to be a part of their lives, sharing their hopes, dreams, trials and tribulations. That’s their truth; that’s their story.”

The 225 members of the 2020 Report For America corps were chosen from more than 1,800 applications. Selected journalists have worked in a wide range of newsrooms, including the Associated Press, Boston Globe, the Daily Oklahoman, Deseret News, Miami Herald, New York Times, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Texas Tribune, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

An initiative of the nonprofit The GroundTruth Project, Report for America journalists reflect wide ranging backgrounds of the communities they will serve:

  • About 40% are journalists of color
  • More than a quarter speak Spanish
  • More than three quarters are women
  • 5 are post-9/11 military veterans

“MLK50 was selected during an intense national competition among newsrooms — because of its high quality and commitment to civically important local reporting. The beat that MLK50 outlined — covering poverty and power — seemed particularly compelling,” said Steve Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America.

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by the Surdna Foundation, the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy, Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the American Journalism Project, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, and Community Change.

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