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October 7, 2017

Local Fix: 10 Things That Happened This Week and What They Mean For Local

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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… today we have ten.

The Online News Association conference is happening this week and there have been a ton of announcements. Which ones are worth paying attention to for local newsrooms? We try to dissect them below. Let us know what you are most excited about.

1) The Online News Association announces a ton of local projects working in partnership with journalism schools who are trying to hack journalism education.Why it Matters: Local newsrooms who are stretched thin often don’t have a ton of time and resources to invest in experimentation. Partnering with universities can be one way to test new ideas and bring meaningful innovation into your work.

2) The News Integrity Initiative awarded $1.8 Million to projects focused on building new kinds of relationships between newsrooms and communities. Why it Matters: The projects are mostly national but many have local components. The Center for Investigative Reporting, Free Press and Arizona State University are all going to work deeply in a few places. EducationNC and the Listening Post are doing innovative work around new ways to deliver news and listen to communities.

3) Better News debuts as new resource to help news innovators learn, plan and do.Why it Matters: The American Press Institute has basically taken resources from around the web and turned them into a powerful, searchable, action oriented text book for transforming newsrooms. There is a lot of smart, proven tools and ideas here.

4) Gather, a project + platform to support community-minded journalists and other engagement professionals, launches. Why it Matters: Local journalists who are pioneering deeply community driven models often feel isolated in their newsrooms or regions. Gather seems to help journalists, educators, and students “find each other, find resources and best practices, and find support and mentorship.”

5) News Match Opens with $3 Million in Matching Support for Nonprofit Newsrooms Across the Country. Why it Matters: 110 newsrooms around the country, many small local newsrooms, will be raising money between now and the end of the year and every single donation under $1000 will get doubled. News Match also launched a first of its kind single website where people can give to multiple newsrooms at once.

6) ProPublica is going to pay the salary and benefits for a local reporter in six partner newsrooms in cities with population below 1 millionWhy it Matters: Instead of parachuting in to local communities ProPublica wants to support journalists and newsrooms already there, investing not only dollars but also skills, time and support to tackle stories they might not be able to do otherwise.

7) Center for Cooperative Media identifies 6 models of collaborative journalism, a ‘revolution’ in media. Why it Matters: The report peels back some assumptions and reveals some best practices for building successful partnership that can help strengthen local newsroom’s capacity and service to local communities.

8) The Shorenstein Center will figure out best practices for single-subject news sites, with $683K from Knight. Why it Matters: Local news isn’t always general news. Some very successful local sites are successful in part because they focus on clear passionate niches and powerful issues in their region. This report should help local newsrooms build strong and sustainable single issues sites, or niches within their existing work.

9) ONA launches the next stage of their Women’s Leadership Accelerator. Why it Matters: The accelerator is a weeklong forum aimed squarely at developing strong leadership skills for women working in digital journalism, and supports women who are leading change and innovation in the field.

10) The Membership Puzzle Project released database with details of more than 100 newsroom membership programsWhy it Matters: In addition to the data and and samples they have outlined a series of important lessons for newsrooms who want to build or strengthen their membership programs. Lots of ideas to steal and copy here.

Bonus) Thanks @AlexandraLeighS for sharing a photo with our local news themed postcards. Find them in your ONA tote bag, and share a photo with us. You can also use them old-school style as postcards to tell us about the great stuff you’re working on in local news.

Have a good weekend and find us at ONA,
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.