July 18, 2014
How to Innovate Locally: 20 Starting Points
This past weekend, I went to the Association of Alternative Newsmedia‘s annual conference in Nashville, where I caught a presentation by Alexa Schirtzinger on Innovating Locally. Alexa is a former editor-in-chief for the Santa Fe Reporter and has recently wrapped up her Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford working on innovation in journalism, atomization of the article, and business strategies for local news.
In her presentation, Alexa offered a sage list of 20 ways in which local media can take steps toward innovation, reminding the audience that it must embrace continuous change.
Here is Alexa’s list, with some notes for clarification:
- Know your community
- Know thyself – know what you are good at
- Know your purpose – what are you trying to do?
- Get personal – talk to people as people, drop the institutional voice
- Engage – reach beyond social media, engage in person
- Enlist allies…
- …and put them to work as ambassadors
- Consider your user…
- … the use case…
- … and the whole journey. Understand your readers’ experience with you and your work.
- Just try it
- Rough beats ready – prototype, experiment, get feedback before investing too much
- Take time to reflect
- Be transparent
- Innovate continuously
- Get the data
- Challenge all assumptions, even the ones you know to be true
- Tear down your firewall – sales reps and editorial should understand each other’s jobs better
- Have fun
What do you think of the list? Where do you see the biggest challenges?
It’s worth noting from the philanthropic perspective that every one of these 20 points applies to nonprofits in our communities too; they are not unique to the issues local journalism faces.