A project of Democracy Fund

October 13, 2017

Local Fix: Somebody’s Watching Me


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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: Build Bridges Between Ethnic and Mainstream Outlets 

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Our senior fellow Daniela Gerson has a new report published by the American Press Institute which she introduces this way, “In a time when immigrant communities are in the political crosshairs and hate crimes are on the rise, collaborations between mainstream and ethnic publications can change the stories news outlets tell. These partnerships can build coverage of diverse communities and increase access to about a quarter of U.S. residents who turn to more than 3,000 ethnic media outlets for some of their news.”

Read the full post and fill out the survey at the end to help the American Press Institute profile more partnerships like this. 

Somebody’s Watching Me

Earlier this week, I (Josh) shared some thoughts about the importance of protecting reader privacy over on Twitter. Here’s a slightly edited version, with some useful links for more information. 

There was another data breach this week, this time at Disqus, reminding me once again that newsrooms need to be thinking about reader privacy. How many ways do we risk our audiences’ privacy and security? Let me count the ways: commenting tools, ad tech, social plug-ins, on and on. For the most part we don’t explain how all this stuff works on our site or what data is being collected about our readers. It is hidden, behind the scenes, and often newsrooms don’t even get to keep the data that is collected because it happens via third-party tools. But when we outsource the tech that mediates our relationship with audience to third parties and then those tools get hacked, we share the responsibility. According to one study, news websites expose you to more than twice as much tracking software as the rest of the web. If journalists ascribe incredible importance to protecting sources, then today we also have to prioritize protecting our audiences too.

How Diverse are Newsrooms? Spoiler: Not So Diverse

ASNE has come out with the results of their annual diversity survey, and the results continue to be deeply concerning. This year ASNE worked with the Google News Lab on new ways to visualize the data, including the ability to compare the diversity of a given newsroom with the demographics of the community it operates in. Accompanying this announcement was news that Democracy Fund is supporting an overhaul of the ASNE survey to make it, in the words of ASNE’s Mizell Stewart, “more relevant, more useful and more of a tool to drive the kind of change that will truly diversify the nation’s newsrooms.” Below we’ve rounded up some of the links and reactions to the survey as well as a few bigger picture pieces from earlier this year.

Supported by Readers Like You

It’s fall pledge drive season in public broadcasting. So grab your tote bag, and pay attention to how some of the best in the business are taking pledge to the next level. Local stations are using Facebook ads, video live stream gaming platform Twitch, canvassing, and much more to ask for donations. Have you asked your community to support local news in a creative way? Let us know at localnewslab@democracyfund.org.

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.