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Grant Enables Reporting on Underrepresented Communities in Rural Texas

Reporter Dalyah Jones is one of eight journalists selected for the inaugural Freedomways Reporting Project, an initiative to report about underrepresented communities in the South.

Her in-depth reporting project will look at issues affecting people of color in rural Texas communities – with a focus on Nacogdoches, for a statewide perspective, and Bastrop, for a Central Texas perspective. The fellowship begins this month and includes training, mentorship and editing over the next nine months. Stay tuned for her reports over the coming months.

We’re excited about this project and sat down with DaLyah to learn more about her inspiration for applying for the fellowship and her goals for the project.

What inspired you to apply for the fellowship?
I was born and raised in rural deep East Texas so I know what it is to live and breathe the Southern experience. I also know what it’s like to be a part of a community that is disproportionately impacted by poverty, trauma and mental illness, which I feel news organizations are focusing on more. But, many times, the stories never actually focus on the people left in the margins.

The very reason I report is to create an impact that will hopefully improve someone’s life or the systems that often confine POC, women, LGBTQ+ community, folks with disabilities and more. This fellowship offered me the perfect opportunity to pursue that in more depth.

Why Nacogdoches and Bastrop?
Both Nacogdoches and Bastrop Counties have some of the most disparate outcomes for marginalized populations in Texas. Bastrop County is an area that I’ve become more familiar with and have worked to focus more reporting in the area while here at KUT. I also grew up in Angelina County, which is right next to Nacogdoches County. Although both areas have similarities, they have very different ways they’re tackling the issues within their communities.

I think reporting on the two areas at the same time will allow audiences to see the nuanced issues of these very different regions of the state.

What are some of the personal and professional goals you hope this fellowship would help you achieve?
First, I hope that this fellowship helps these communities improve overall quality of life, but also helps the same people become more aware of the issues that plague them. You don’t know what you don’t know and I think my job as a reporter is to find a way to present this information so that folks can make informed decisions for themselves and the people they care about.

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