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Gift Propels Local Public Radio Coverage in Midwest, California : NPR

At a time of widespread layoffs and cutbacks throughout the local news business, a pair of philanthropists is seeking to promote more local coverage from public radio with a gift of $4.7 million for NPR collaborations in the Midwest and California.

The gift from Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Google and the head of the Schmidt Family Foundation, respectively, is intended to help sustain two new regional newsrooms with a focus on investigative reporting and coverage relevant to underserved communities.

“Now more than ever, we depend on high-quality journalism for timely and critical information,” Wendy Schmidt said in a statement. “Local news is especially important, and with so many newsrooms in decline, we need to invest in strengthening reporting resources from trusted sources like public radio.”

Many news outlets have announced layoffs, furloughs and other cost savings measures in response to the economic fallout of the pandemic. The newspaper chain Tribune Publishing is making some pay cuts permanent to achieve savings that will last beyond the current crisis. NPR has embarked on a course of temporary pay cuts and furloughs after negotiations with its unions with a stated aim to avoid such layoffs. The Schmidts’ grant will not mitigate those cuts.

“This generous gift will allow the Midwest and California regional newsrooms to focus on investigative reporting, which is so essential to an informed citizenry and democracy,” Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for news and editorial director, said in a statement. “It’s also the type of journalism that has been eroding at the local level as newspapers scale back.”

The California newsroom, led by former Marketplace assistant managing editor Joanne Griffith, will serve all 17 public radio stations across the state, and is anchored by major stations in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Los Angeles. The Midwest newsroom includes major stations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and is intended to serve all 25 stations in those states. The grant will help the newsrooms hire new investigative reporters and help public radio stations in the regions coordinate breaking news and political coverage.

NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network maintains similar hubs in Texas and the Gulf States.

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Bakkt Announces New Insurance Coverage, Claims More Than 70 Custody Clients

Bitcoin warehouse Bakkt has onboarded more than 70 clients for its custody services and given them the option to tap more than $600 million in insurance coverage overall, the company announced Monday.

In a blog post, the company said it had partnered with insurance broker Marsh to provide up to $500 million-worth of cover. Bakkt customers would have to purchase this insurance themselves, and it would be in addition to, rather than instead of, the custodian’s existing $125 million insurance coverage.

Marsh has been involved in the crypto space since at least 2018, and already facilitates or provides insurance for Crypto.com and Ledger.

Bakkt now has more than 70 customers for its custody services, the company said.

As part of its processes, the company has also completed an SOC 1 Type I examination (an evaluation of financial reporting controls at a given moment in time), which was conducted by KPMG. PricewaterhouseCoopers also conducted an SOC 2 Type II examination (an evaluation of customer data protection controls over a six-month period) of Bakkt’s enterprise functions, including the infrastructure hosted by its parent firm, Intercontinental Exchange.

“These audited procedures and controls are essential to our institutional customers,” the blog post said, citing Tagomi as one of its clients.

Bakkt is also continuing its work on a retail-focused mobile app, eyeing a potential user base of more than 30 million individuals after partnering with two unnamed financial institutions, the blog post added.

“This suite of enterprise loyalty and merchant products has powered the redemption of more than 1.5 trillion points, helping companies put loyalty points to work for consumers,” Bakkt said.

The retail app development is tied to Bakkt’s earlier acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, a loyalty rewards platform.

“Our enterprise loyalty products provide critical infrastructure to companies around the world and we’re proud to power thousands of programs that unlock digital assets for consumers,” the post said.

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