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December 16, 2016

Local Fix: Looking Ahead at Media Diversity, Reporting on Housing and Fake 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: Get Out Your Crystal Ball
It’s that time of year again for Nieman Lab’s year-end predictions. Here are a few that we thought readers of the Local Fix would be interested in: Local journalism will fight a new fight – Ashley Woods , Building reader relationships – Tracie Powell, Local news gets interesting – Burt Herman, From empathy to community – Emi Kolawole, Earn trust by working for (and with) readers – Ernst-Jan Pfauth, The year collaboration beats competition – Olivia Ma, Connecting with diverse perspectives – Doris Truong, and Philanthropists galvanize around news – by Local Fix co-founder Molly de Aguiar.

Journalists of Color on What’s Next

“Our task now is not just to report, but to create a world where we can tell our own stories on our own terms,” writes Wilfred Chan at Fusion. Chan’s piece was one of a series of recent pieces from journalists of color discussing what it was like to report from the campaign trail and their concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion in American newsrooms and the country at large in the years to come. Asma Khalid of NPR wrote about the good and the bad experiences she had as a Muslim woman traveling the country covering the campaign, and noted that this was also the first time she “felt unwelcome in my homeland.” 

Facebook’s Fake News Fix

This week Facebook announced the steps it would take to combat the spread of misinformation and fake news on its platform. Key to their effort is a new set of partnerships with well-established fact-checking organizations and newsrooms. Facebook is, of course, only one piece of a complex web of forces that have accelerated the spread and reach of misleading information online. Given the increasingly central role of Facebook in the economics and distribution strategies of so many newsrooms, it’s really important to understand the details of this plan. There has been a ton of coverage already, but here are a few pieces that provide a good overview on the fact-checking work and other aspects of their effort. 

Reporting on Housing 

Housing, and the political, economic and social forces that are reshaping neighborhoods, is one of those universal beats for local newsrooms. These issues arise in every community and have profound bearing on people’s lives. In this edition of the Local Fix we wanted to highlight a few interesting reporting projects that could prove to be models for experiments and efforts you can try in your newsroom. 

  • City Limits’ ZoneIn: The Future of NYC Neighborhoods uses data, policy reporting and community engagement to help local residents “learn about the de Blasio administration’s proposed rezonings, hear what neighborhood residents want their future to look like,” and share their own stories. 
  • The Open Housing Reporting Collaboration in Portland, Oregon,  is a collaborative reporting project across eight newsrooms and a community engagement effort involving housing advocates, universities and neighborhood groups.  
  • Shelterforce is a publication of the National Housing Institute which has covered housing and economic issues since 1975. They combine research and hands on tools for policy makers and neighborhoods with solutions oriented journalism.  

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.