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AP to cover US water issues with Walton Family Foundation grant


The Associated Press and the Walton Family Foundation today announced the creation of a new reporting team that will cover water issues in the U.S.

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An empty irrigation canal lines a tree farm in Corrales, N.M., as snow covers the Sandia Mountains in the background, Feb. 17, 2021. Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a government study released this month. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

The two-year grant from the Walton Family Foundation will fund three AP reporting positions. The journalists will be based across the U.S.

This collaboration is an expansion of AP’s robust environmental reporting efforts. It will allow the news agency to produce additional comprehensive, all-formats journalism around water use, rights, quality and safety, as well as food production, dams, flooding and natural habits.

AP expects to also work with local news outlets to identify their coverage needs around these same topics for their audiences.

“AP has the unique ability to elevate coverage of these critical issues throughout its local distribution network, ensuring a wide and diverse audience among communities across the U.S.,” said Lisa Gibbs, AP director of news partnerships.

“Quality journalism has never been more important to maintain an informed public and spotlight the issues that matter most; environment, health, and social justice,” said Moira Mcdonald, director of the Walton Family Foundation Environment program. “We are proud to work with The Associated Press to support additional capacity to cover the nexus of water and climate issues that affect all parts of our world.” 

“Water quality and allocation are fundamental issues of climate change and impact communities far and wide,” said Sarah Nordgren, AP deputy managing editor. “This grant will enable AP to increase coverage in video, text and photos of water issues in the West, along the Mississippi and, from a policy perspective, in Washington, D.C.”

Through the grant, AP will add a Washington-based journalist covering policy that impacts water and climate; a video journalist based in the U.S. West focused on water issues in the Colorado River basin; and a reporter in the Midwest who will cover the Mississippi River basin. Visuals created by the team are intended to help local news outlets tell stories to their audiences.

AP retains editorial control of all content.

AP’s collaboration with the Walton Family Foundation is the latest example of how the 175-year-old news agency is working with foundations and nonprofits to tackle traditionally under-covered topics in journalism. AP has worked with a variety of organizations, including Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Lilly Endowment, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Report for America and others.

Read the Walton Family Foundation announcement:

About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2019, the foundation awarded more than $525 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Patrick Maks
Media Relations Manager
The Associated Press

Sara Ortega
Communications Officer, Environment Program
Walton Family Foundation

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