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June 2, 2017

Local Fix: Experimenting with Print, Revenue, and Libraries

Welcome to the Local Fix. Subscribe here.

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: Partner with Libraries
Curious City had a problem. The Chicago-based series, which birthed the Hearken model of using questions from audiences to fuel reporting, was stuck in a public radio bubble. Their questions were coming from the same types of people, from the same parts of the city. They recently released a report on the outreach efforts they made in 2016 to get beyond that bubble. One takeaway: setting up outreach booths at public libraries paid off. Another learning: places like cafes were a bust because the outreach posts weren’t there long enough.

Dust Off That Printing Press

Printing press

Photo via newspaperclub/CC

Print is dead, long live print. Charlotte Agenda, an online publication, launched its first print product this week, a newcomer’s guide to Charlotte. Poynter reported that it has already brought in more than $100,000 in revenue. Before taking this idea though, read through this research from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. It found launching a new print product is a lot of hard work, with no guaranteed results. While these types of products can bring in dollars and eyeballs, they need to be different from what you already offer.

I Want My Two Dollars!

Ok, maybe you shouldn’t harass your audience for money, but getting support through membership and subscriptions is increasingly important. API recently published a study that found that more people could begin to pay for news – if organizations serve them well, and understand what they need. The News Revenue Hub’s launch found a similar outcome when they launched membership programs at several non-profit news outlets. And if you don’t know what your community is looking for – why don’t you ask? That’s what NJ Pen did this week.

Say Hi

Some of our favorite things to do are to meet Local Fix readers, visit newsrooms, and see where the work of local news gets done. This week we got to meet Jenn Smith, an education reporter and engagement editor at The Berkshire Eagle (hey Jenn!), and Scott Brodbeck, the founder of Local News Now, a local news publisher in the D.C. metro area (hey Scott!). Go ahead, follow them on Twitter.

We always appreciate hearing what’s new in your newsroom, what you’re interested in learning more about, and feedback on the Local Fix. Send it our way anytime on Twitter or to 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.