March 9, 2018
Local Fix: Speed Dating, North Carolina, and Canada
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: Speed Dating for Deeper Understanding
Public radio station KUOW in Seattle has been using a speed dating model to facilitate “civil dialogue between people who rarely have opportunities to talk one-on-one.” For the station, the effort is an attempt to address polarization and build bridges across communities. After two years of developing and testing the model they published a toolkit for others to replicate their approach. This fits into a growing trend of local newsrooms leveraging the power of journalism to foster important conversations. If you are helping facilitate critical conversations in your community, send us a note to tell us what you’re up to.
Women Are Doing it For Themselves
Last year, Local Fix readers shared women working in local news they admired. Yesterday, in honor of International Women’s Day, we re-shared the list on Twitter and asked people to share more names. Joe Amditis of The Center for Cooperative Media shared a long list of women killing it in the New Jersey media scene, and others piped in with even more names. It’s great to give honor when we can, but it’s also important to note who is missing from newsrooms. The Women’s Media Center report, “The Status of Women of Color in the U.S. News Media 2018,” shared unacceptable statistics this week: “Women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, and 6.2 percent of local radio staff.” While we celebrate those we admire, lets remember we still need to support women, especially women of color, to get in, stay in, and lead in this industry.
- Local Fix Readers Share the Women Working in Local News They Admire – The Local News Lab (Follow them on Twitter)
- Outstanding women in New Jersey’s local media scene – Center for Cooperative Media
- New report shows lack of progress for women of color in the media – Poynter
New Attention to the Role of Government in Supporting Media
Last month was a tale of two budgets. In Ottawa, the federal budget committed $50 million over five years to support local journalism. Meanwhile, in Washington, President Trump’s proposed budget sought to end federal funding for public broadcasting. Two other models out of New Jersey add some new contours to the debate. When New Jersey sold its public broadcasting spectrum back to the U.S. government they received $330 million. A new bill in New Jersey would set aside $20 million of that for a consortium of universities which would invest in projects to strengthen local news, open government data, and better connect underserved communities. Separately, the Info Districts project is trying to create citizen-driven methods to pool public tax dollars that will help pay for local journalism through special services districts, which are currently used for libraries, fire departments and more. These New Jersey examples create mechanisms to empower citizens while protecting reporting from political influence. Relevant to all of these debates is a 2011 study on how other international democracies build firewalls between government and publicly funded media and journalism.
- New Jersey introduces a “Civic Info Bill” which would establish a $20-million fund for local news and information projects. – Free Press
- Could local news driven by residents who pay fees in a special service district…work? – NiemanLab
- Indie Journalists On The Government News Bailout – Canadaland
- How local governments could use their ad spending to better support local news. – Columbia Journalism Review
- Public Media and Political Independence Around the World – Rodney Benson and Matthew Powers
Apply to the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund
Last week, we announced a call for proposals for the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund alongside local funders. Projects and organizations that focus on sustainability, collaboration, community engagement, or innovation are encouraged to apply. If you’re in the state, apply by March 30, and come to our online office hour with questions on Wednesday March 14. If you’re not in NC, stay tuned for takeaways from the work, and be sure to share the call with anyone you know who might be interested. In honor of the fund launch, we thought we’d highlight examples of interesting work happening in the state. These are just a few examples of the work we’ve seen, with many more examples and learnings to come:
- Learning from North Carolina: Exploring the News and Information Ecosystem – Democracy Fund
- The magazine Scalawag and The News-Reporter of Whiteville, a small semi-weekly paper, collaborate for a six-part series on opioid addiction in Columbus County.
- Charlotte Residents Call on Local Journalists to Connect the City’s Past, Present and Future – News Voices NC
- Deploying Reach NC Voices statewide – Year of Listening and EducationNC
- With ThePlug and BLKTECH Sherrell Dorsey is sharing critical news and information about, with, and for tech entrepreneurs of color in NC and beyond, and at the same time, bringing this community closer.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD: Apply to the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund http://bit.ly/NCFUND
Have a good weekend,
Josh and Teresa, with editing help by Melinda
@jcstearns, @gteresa, @SzekeresMelinda
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.