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August 16, 2017

Local Fix: Alexa, Bikes, and Money

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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: Tell Someone You’re Grateful for Them
In The Atlantic’s series about mentoring,  Amanda Ripley says in her note about David Carr: “I wish I had told him.” Is there a mentor or mentee you’re grateful for? Take a second and let them know. We shouldn’t wait for special occasions or Thanksgiving to let people know we’re thankful for what they do. (And BTW, we’re grateful for you!)

Are You There Alexa? It’s Me, Local Fix

In a post in June on the NJ Mobile News Lab, Joe Amditis lays out some reasons why it could be time for local news to “get in front of the on-demand audio wave before it’s too late.” Perusing the work many organizations are doing with smart speakers shows that many are still in experimentation and testing phase, which can be a perfect time to dip your toe in the Alexa waters. Here are some experiments to learn from, including BBC’s interactive radio plays, Tom Ashbrook interviewing Alexa on air, and The Columbus Dispatch trying to get Alexa to pronounce John Kasich correctly.

Like Riding a Bike

We often hear about using different online tools to engage with communities. The examples in the following links use something a little more basic to get outside and get connected: a bike. Mujeres en Movimiento hand-delivers information to Latino immigrants in a neighborhood in Queens via bikes. A reporter at The News-Press in Fort Myers was inspired to start a series on bike safety after she quit riding because it was too dangerous. And in Tulsa, a reporter organized a community bike ride that explored Native history in Tulsa. What could you do with a bike?

If You Build it …

It’s not new to say that journalists can’t just start news organizations and expect money to roll in. Business training, diversified revenue streams, and entrepreneurship are needed to keep any local news venture afloat. Here are some stories, new and old, with more thoughts on the good old business model conundrum. Plus, we have a useful post in our archives that has 52 different revenue ideas, but we want to update it. What’s idea number 53? Send it to us at localnewslab@democracyfund.org
Have a good weekend,
Josh and Teresa
@jcstearns, @gteresaThe 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.