The Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced a $4.1 million grant Thursday to American Public Media to expand its network of "citizen sources" that help provide local news coverage across the country.
The grant will be funded over two years by the nonprofit corporation that channels federal funds to public broadcasters.
Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Washington-based Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said the effort will enhance local and regional news coverage from courthouses and state houses in urban and rural areas.
St. Paul, Minn.-based American Public Media's Public Insight Network already includes 120,000 "citizen sources" who share information with journalists in 45 newsrooms across the country. The newsrooms include New York Public Radio and KPBS in San Diego, Minnesota Public Radio and The Miami Herald.
Officials say the grant will add 100,000 more people to the network to share information with 50 more newsrooms. It will fund mobile apps to share content and tools to vet information from participants.
The "citizen sources" come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines and are not paid for their involvement, said Bill Gray, a spokesman for American Public Media. Journalists fact-check information from citizens and interview them but don't publish stories directly from the sources, he said.
"It's in the spirit of coming up with more relevant local content," Gray said. "Rather than relying on the experts, you can find real people."