A project of Democracy Fund

July 28, 2014

Local Fix: Building Trust, Making Maps, Learning to Listen

Welcome to the Local Fix. 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 IdeaGrabbing New Readers With Local Passions. Check out how the Dallas Morning News is building on and offline communities through targeted blogs focused on local passions and collaborating with a growing community of contributors.

Building Trust With Local Audiences: Competing research and concrete ideas

At the International Journalism Festival this spring Eric Scherer of France Television argued that “The next big thing is not attention, the next big thing is trust.” But in June Gallop reported that “Americans’ faith in each of three major news media platforms — television news, newspapers, and news on the Internet — is at or tied with record lows.” NetNewsCheck points to two other studies of local news that show somewhat better results. For local journalists, developing and maintaining the trust of your community is absolutely essential. What I like about a brand new report just out from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is that it looks at both how to build trust in journalism, but also how journalism can build trust in society at large. The report features useful case studies and concrete ideas for building trust (full PDF of the report here, summary post here). Poynter also has a good round-up of 7 steps for building trust and credibility online.

Fortune reported this week that “people feel deceived when they realize an article or video is sponsored by a brand, and believe it hurts the digital publisher’s credibility” and Jeff Jarvis wrote that sponsored content can devalue media brands and erode trust when not labeled properly.

The Lay of the Land: Mapping tips and tools for local newsrooms

In 2010 Nieman Reports published an essay by Krissy Clark making the case for “location-aware storytelling.” “Every place has a story, and every story has a place,” she wrote. Mapping is a natural tool for local journalists to help their communities navigate the news, access information about their place, and see their area in new ways. But Matthew Ericson, deputy graphics director at The New York Times, also reminds us that there are many times when “maps shouldn’t be maps.” The Knight Digital Media Center at Berkeley just published a good list of links for databases, data visualizations and map mashups. Don’t miss the Knight Digital Media Center map tutorials as well.

Mapping Tools for Journalists: CartoDB and their new Odyssey.jsUshahidi CrowdmapGoogle MapsBalloon Mapping

Learning to Listen: Projects and events for listening to your community

6231641551_541c96e583_zThere has been a recent spike in interest in listening projects. The Knight Foundation Prototype Fund recently supported two projects that encourage journalists and communities to listen more closely to each other: Talkbox will repurpose phone booths to give residents a direct, two-way line to WNYC and DIY Storycorps will create a mobile app so more people can participate in the one-on-one interviews that have made Storycorps so popular. These projects join earlier efforts like the Listening Post in New Orleans and the Civil Conversations Project, based at the public radio show On Being. And in North Carolina and Detroit local newsrooms are using in-depth community listening events to shape their coverage and deepen their connection to local neighborhoods.

For more on the need for listing and empathy in journalism, see this post from last year with links to other local newsroom projects and past trainings.

Innovating From The Inside: Changing course while moving forward

This month PBS MediaShift held an event in New York focused on how to foster and support innovation inside large media organizations. But there are lessons here even for those of us working at small local newsrooms. One of the presenters at the MediaShift event was Amy Radin, who has written about how organizations can use “value constellations” to develop new revenue models rooted in the value they provide to communities. Craig Silverman covered the event, and reports on how journalists have navigated cultural and financial barriers while developing new projects and ideas. But in a post at the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism John Talton says that sometimes to make change in your newsroom you just have to practice “guerrilla journalism.” At PBS digital studios innovation came from learning to fail more and, Alexa Schirtzinger says that is something local journalists can learn from. See also Schirzinger’s 20 tips for local innovation here.

Two views: The Online News Associations discusses what journalists can learn from start-ups. Fast Company outlines what start-ups can learn from journalists.

Photo via Steven Shorrock on Flickr, used under creative commons