A project of Democracy Fund

March 30, 2018

Local Fix: Comedy, Community and a Guide to Tough Choices


by Josh Stearns and Teresa Gorman

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: Serve Communities, Not Just Community
Blavity is not a local news site, but the co-founder Morgan DeBaun is passionate about creating a platform where local communities and communities of interest can see themselves reflected. What’s the secret to their success? “Not treating every black person like they are the exact same person with the exact same interests. […] Blavity tries to consider different sub-communities and subcultures among black people, and create content around those segments of the population.” Knowing the passionate niches within your community, and understanding how to serve them uniquely, is a critical skill for local newsrooms. Just as journalists bristle when people refer to all news as “the media” we shouldn’t paint all our audience with one broad brush as simply “the community.” 

Comedy Tonight

Laughing can help learning. So why not use it with journalism? The Center for Investigative Reporting has experimented with humor and comedy shows in New Jersey. A recent study on the shows found that audiences both learned information about the issue, and saw it as credible. There’s a lot to learn from projects that combine comedy with journalism. Why don’t you give it a try? Here’s some domestic and international inspiration.

Bootcamps and Fellowships and Funding

If you live in North Carolina, you have a few hours left to submit a one-page letter for funding from the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund. (Go ahead, do it, and make sure to share with anyone who you know in NC! http://bit.ly/NCFUND) But if you aren’t in North Carolina, there are still plenty of opportunities out there to learn something new, get recognition, or find a fellowship. Here are just a few examples that have come across our email this week. Have a great opportunity for people working in local news? Send it our way at localnewslab@democracyfund.org

The Many Choices of a Start-Up Newsroom

Starting a local news operation is full of choices and so far there isn’t a simple flow-chart to help you navigate those early days. There are, however, a growing list of resources that speak to the many considerations news entrepreneurs have as they make their vision a reality. The posts below seek to help answer those practical questions like: For-profit versus nonprofit? Where do you get start-up funding? What are the right revenue streams to explore? What did you rely on when you were getting started? Send us the resources you think others should know about and we’ll continue to highlight them here and on the LocalNewsLab.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.