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November 24, 2014

The Local Fix: Race and Local Reporting, A Civic Impulse and New Rules for Mobile


If you are a fan of the Local Fix would you help spread the word about it? Share the subscribe link (https://tinyletter.com/jcstearns) with your networks and help us build the conversation about innovation in local news.Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea… 

One Good Idea: Go Back to School. Last week NYU professor Jay Rosen posted a list of 21 ways journalism is changing. The post offers useful links and resources about the forces that are transforming the work we do.

Mobile Networks for Community Listening and Engagement

This week Andrew Haeg, one of the founders of the Public Insight Network, wrote on Medium about “How we can learn from what works online and on mobile to create journalism that’s deeply engaging and responsive to our communities’ needs.” From Yik Yak to text messages, Haeg explores how new mobile messaging networks can inform a community-driven approach to listening and reporting. As part of their massive report on Firestone and Liberia, ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller will be “filing dispatches from this investigation to WhatsApp subscribers in West Africa and beyond.” People can use the app to “discuss the story directly with Miller and share your own questions and experiences about Liberia’s civil war.”At Editor and Publisher Alan Mutter offers a list of new rules for mobile journalismincluding tips on: Reporting, Presentation, Analysis, Voice, and Sharing. Over at Street Fight, Damian Rollison further explores the mobile mind shift in consumers and how interactivity is shaping the way people seek out and consume news and information. Oh, and Google is giving mobile-friendly websites a boost in search rankings.

Mapping the Civic Impulse in Local Media

The Seattle Times has partnered with the Solutions Journalism Network to launch a new kind of educational reporting project called Education Lab where they hope to turn journalism’s watchdog lens not just on problems, but also towards “things that show a lot of promise.” On a similar note, Jan Schafer of J-Lab describes the new criminal justice reporting effort, The Marshall Project, (which launched this week) as “not actively campaigning,” but argues “it is, by force of it’s journalism, spot-lighting problems that can have solutions.” Be sure to read the full interview, in which Schaffer describes how civic impulses are driving journalism’s future.I’ll be interested to see how The Marshall Project’s reporting can be built upon by local news organizations reporting on their community’s criminal justice issues. Anew report out from the Center for Investigative Reporting found that their reporting on the Department of Veterans Affairs sparked nearly 1000 other stories in media around the country, many of which were local journalists using their data and reporting to tell local stories. And in the UK, the Guardian reports on a “new breed of co-operatives is looking to redefine local media.”

How Can We Strengthen Reporting on Race and Justice?

Last weekend Race Forward hosted their annual Facing Race conference focused on racial justice movement building. You can find tweets from the event at #FacingRace14. While there were no sessions on local journalism specifically, I wanted to highlight the event here because so many recent events have reminded us that we need local media that report and reflect on questions of equity and justice (See #Pointergate for example). Jessica Daniels has rounded up some of the academic research presented at the conference. And don’t miss this Race Forward report on media coverage and race from January. Another great resource is the Maynard Institute whose trainings and programs are incredibly useful.Along these lines, you should be sure to read “‘Serial’ and White Reporter Privilege” by Jay Caspian Kang. And, last month The Toast hosted a wide-ranging conversation with Sarah Jeong & Nicole Soojung Callahan about Asian Americans and the media.  Earlier this summer WNET in New York hosted a discussion of race and the media through the lens of Ferguson. And if you haven’t seen the New/s Disruptors project be sure to keep an eye on it – you can read more about it here.

Rebuilding Science Reporting

At the Columbia Journalism Review Anna Clark asks “Will radio save science journalism?” She reports on WNYC’s new health reporting team and points out Radiolab, Science Friday, Living on Earth and other science programming on public radio. WHYY already has a robust health and science reporting portal at theirNewsworks site. For smaller-scale newsrooms, the Metcalf Institute is bringing “journalists and scientists together to create a solid scientific foundation for local environmental reporting.”Here are a few other links about science journalism that are worth your time. At Poynter last month, Roy Peter Clark writes “From AIDS to Ebola: Journalism, disease, and the mentality of fear.” Earlier this fall, the Columbia Journalism Review looked at how the longstanding magazine Science is making the transition to digital-first. This week AAAS, the parent of Science, announced its science journalism awards. There is a lot of good info on science journalism over at MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program.