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December 20, 2014

Local Fix: Envisioning a Local Social Newsroom, Money Talk, Stunning Visual Journalism


Welcome to the Local Fix, you can subscribe here. 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: Explore Restorative Narratives. The Columbia Journalism Review recently profiled IVOH, which has launched a fellowship program to foster more journalism focused on stories of recovery and resilience in local communities. Read more here.

New Tips and Guides for Online Journalism

Every few weeks I pull together a round-up of useful guides on social media and online journalism tools. Platforms and practices change regularly, so I try to find the most current and useful tips. (A number of you have asked for an RSS feed of these links – and that is coming soon). It is one thing to know how these tools work, it is another to think deeply about how to make them work for you and your newsroom. Before you dive into the list below, I recommend readingthis interview with Jay Rosen of NYU and Melody Kramer of NPR.

Reddit Guide for Journalists – Storybench
How News Orgs Should Use Twitter – Parsely
Beginners Guide to Google Analytics – 99 Robots
15 Social Media Tools for Journalists – PBS MediaShift
5 Tools for Social Media Monitoring and Verification – Journalism.co.uk
17 Tools for Content Distribution – Buffer

What Does a Local Social Newsroom Look Like?

This week Andy Carvin, whose use of Twitter to report on the Arab Spring was widely heralded, launched a new newsroom modeled after those experiences. It is called Reported.ly. “Some of the most compelling news stories around the world emerge directly from social media,” writes Carvin. “We want to earn your trust to be your guide, helping you navigating the never-ending stream.” With so much local debate and discussion happening via social media, I think there are interesting opportunities for local newsrooms to learn from this experiment. Right now Justin Ausciello’s Facebook-only “two-way newsroom” is one of the best examples of a local iteration of this model.

On a related note, the New York Times this week released an open-source crowdsourcing tool for anyone to use in their own reporting. Nieman Lab reports that the tool is particularly useful for “asking readers for help in sifting through documents or making sense of disorganized piles of data.” Last year, ProPublica released another crowdsourcing tool for newsrooms to collaborate with their communities around transcribing info locked away in PDF documents. You can read more about “Transcribable” here.

Making Money, Losing Money, Talking Money

Would you publish a full accounting of your budget each month? At PBS MediaShift Simon Owens looks at one independent blogger who is doing just that and explores what we can learn about running a small newsrooms from his numbers. At Street Fight, Tom Grubisch asks “Are Community News Sites and Investors Ready for Each Other?” Meanwhile, in the wake of the shake-up at The New Republic Jo Ellen Kaiser argues that “In the digital era, the only truly independent media are media that depend for their existence on their readers, listeners and viewers.”

Luis Gomez at INN takes a close look at one environmental nonprofit newsroom which is being forced to reorganize in face of funding reduction. And over at the NAA website The Columbia Missourian talks about how it is making “significant revenue” from Google surveys. Finally, Nikki Usher at the Reynolds Journalism Institute rounds up 11 ways to get your news start-up funded.

Lessons for Creating Stunning Visual Journalism

The Knight Foundation just released a neat interactive guide for newsrooms who want to experiment with creating interactive stories. The guide is focused on lessons and tips for small, resource-strapped newsrooms (and it walks the talk by embodying the interactivity it describes). I’ve really been enjoying the new site Storybench from Northeastern University. Here, they offer a behind the scenes of Vice’s illustrated documentary series. Mindy McAdams has a good,general overview of new innovations in interactive storytelling from the past year.

Digiday takes a look at the BBC’s visual journalism unit and offers 5 things we learned about digital video in 2014. The folks at PBS’s POV documentary series rounded up a list of “engagement specialists” who work at the intersection of video and community. In 2012 the Association for Independents in Radio looked at some of the best interactive storytelling of the year – many of the projects still feel relevant today.

Reminder – send tips: I’m working on my yearly post on the best online storytelling of 2014. Each year I highlight really amazing stories and journalists who use the web in creative and powerful ways. I always try to include a mix of local, national and global outlets – so please send me your tips (don’t hesitate to brag!). Just hit reply or send me a link on Twitter: @jcstearns.