A project of Democracy Fund

August 9, 2014

Local Fix: Mobile Engagement, Civic Action and Events

Subscribe to have the Local Fix delivered to you once a week. 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: Find Your Mentors. Whether you are a freelancer, run your own community news site, or just feel isolated in your newsroom, building a network of people who can help support and challenge you is critical. As more and more journalists are going it alone, Poynter offers some tips on how to connect with mentors inside and outside of newsrooms.

Journalism and Civic Life – how news and information enables community change

On the Local News Lab this week I traced the development of news organizations moving beyond community engagement for reporting to civic engagement designed to help residents improve their communities. From creating local citizen networks to including “Take Action” buttons on stories, local and national news sites are testing how communities might use their reporting to make change. Over at the Personal Democracy Forum, Micah Sifry has a case study of SeeClickFix, a local platform that partners with many governments and news organizations to help people address local issues. It is a fascinating read with lots of ideas for local newsrooms interested in community listening, government accountability and open access to information.
>>>Last week Street Fight wrote about how community involvement can pay off for local publishers.

Slide to Unlock – how to engage people on their phones

Amy Gahran just published a great set of best practices for “mobile community engagement” with case studies from around the country. If your newsroom wants to develop a mobile engagement strategy there are a lot of tools and resources linked in her post and slides. Andrew Haeg, formerly of the Public Insight Network, is now building mobile tools for newsrooms to better reach and engage their communities with his Groundsource project (read more about the project here). Other tools like TextizenFrontline SMS and MobileCommons have worked with newsrooms on text message based reporting projects. And just this week the Voice of America launched an SMS news service in Nigeria.
>>> How much time should you spend on social media strategy? This useful guide from Kevan Lee breaks down the balance between planning and action.

Throw a Party – new study on journalism event best practices

The American Press Institute just released a terrific report on best practices for journalists who want to build a revenue stream around events. Kevin Loker of API argues “incorporating an events strategy can strengthen a local publisher’s brand and bottom line in several interlocking ways.”  Their worksheet, with a list of key questions you should ask as you develop events for your newsroom, is particularly useful. Don’t miss our earlier reporting on the 8 categories of news events and 17 lessons from successful news events.

>>> Looking ahead: We will be creating templates, sample budgets and draft agendas for newsrooms to use in their planning of future events. If you are testing events in your community I’d love to talk.

Think Different – tips and tricks for idea generation and newsroom innovation

In the rush of daily newsroom work, sometimes we need a little help to think outside the box and develop big new ideas. At the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) conference this week I caught up with Jeremy Caplan from CUNY’s graduate school of journalism who has compiled a great set of resources for journalism idea generation. Some of his resources draw on principals of design thinking, a process that emphasizes community needs and behaviors into design projects. The Knight Foundation has written about how human-centered design can transform community media. And back in 2008 Poynter offered a guide to newsroom brainstorming that is still useful today.
>>> Want more? Check out this presentation on using design thinking for community information needs.