A project of Democracy Fund

June 9, 2017

Local Fix: Disaster Stories, Freelance Resources, and New Publishers Reshaping Local News



Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news.  But first, we always begin with one good idea…
One Good Idea: A Test Kitchen for Funding Local News
Philadelphia’s Lenfest Institute recently announced $1 million to fund new efforts in local news innovation. The institute seeks applications for grants and residencies in news and information products, reaching underserved communities, new revenue sources, community engagement, and local news ecosystem collaboration. For-profits, non-profits and individuals can apply. Don’t sleep on this – applications close June 30.

The Role of Local News Amidst Disasters

Photo via USGS

Photo via USGS

Recently, the podcast 99 Percent Invisible featured a story about Genie Chance, a radio journalist in Alaska in the 1960s and the extraordinary reporting and public service she provided when an earthquake hit Anchorage. It is a truly lovely story, recorded live with a band, and is certainly worth your time. The episode got us thinking about the creativity, power and need for local news during crisis. Below are a few examples of how local journalists – of many different types – have stepped up to serve local communities just when they needed it most.

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When You’re a Newsroom of One

We often use the term “newsroom” here on the Fix, but the reality is that for many people, at some point in your career, you end up as a newsroom of one. The number of freelancers has been going up over recent years and many news start-ups are single person operations. These solo journalists are an incredibly important part of each local news ecosystem, and don’t have the protections, support, and guidance that those in more traditional newsrooms might. Here are a few links for and from freelancers, but we want to hear more from you – what do you read, where do you look for guidance, and what would be useful to you in the Fix? Hit us up.

New Publishers Offer a Future Vision of Local News

New publishers are rethinking the business model of local news and serving communities across new platforms, services and stories. Many of them aren’t bound by traditional editorial or organizational structures, nor are they guided by old expectations on the business side. Their rethinking of the shape and style of local news can provide useful lessons for anyone thinking about the recreation of local news.

Have a good weekend,
Josh and Teresa
@jcstearns, @gteresa

The Local Fix is a project of the Democracy Fund’s Public Square Program, which invests in innovations and institutions that are reinventing local media and expanding the public square. Disclosure: Some projects mentioned in this newsletter may be funded by Democracy Fund, you can find a full list of the organizations we support on our website.