April 13, 2018
Local Fix: Getting Personal, $1 Million From the Community, and Change-Making
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: Yes people like in-depth reporting
The Seattle Times recently developed an analytics hub that helps them focus less on page views and clicks and more on serving people. With this new tool they can track how articles help convert readers into a subscribers. Their takeaways offer an important reminder about why newsrooms need to measure impact and success in ways that aren’t just about clicks. The results showed that in-depth and time-consuming work can drive more subscriptions than ‘quick hits’ that drive a lot of traffic. Are you looking at what makes people come back and support your news? Get started by checking out how the Seattle Times is doing it, and through resources like Metrics for News, and CIR’s Impact Tracker.
Good Journalism is Personal
ProPublica does a great job of sharing their reporting recipes to help other people learn from their work. In their recent post on maternal mortality one point really stuck out: “Of the 2,500 stories submitted in the first week, fewer than 75 came from black mothers. Yet black mothers die at three to four times the rate of white mothers.” The post explored how they addressed that gap, and how doing so changed their coverage in important ways. In another post we are highlighting this week, a community engagement reporter shares how she has been building relationships with 90 women across Alabama and how that work has touched her and taken over her life in ways she never expected. These posts are good primers on how this work gets done, but also reflect the deep humanity and deeply personal nature of audience-driven journalism.
- Asking if readers knew women who died or almost died in childbirth drew an outpouring that carries lessons for both traditional and engaged journalism. – ProPublica
- Lessons learned from using Hearken – Five Case Studies – Hearken
- Reinventing the Rolodex: Why we’re asking our 60,000 members what they know – De Correspondent
- i carry the many with me (i carry it in my heart) … or how moderating a conversation across divide has taken over my life – Spaceship Media
A Playbook for Community Investment
The local news site Berkeleyside hit a milestone this week, raising $1 million from reader investors through a Direct Public Offering. Throughout their two-year journey the Berkeleyside team has been open and transparent about this effort. Through a series of articles and case studies there is now a pretty solid playbook for others who want to replicate this model. Berkeleyside had some things going for it: an active membership program, a mixed revenue model, and a community with resources to make significant investments. But their story still offers good lessons for newsrooms thinking about membership programs and cooperative models. It is a reminder that there are other tools out there we should be exploring as we think about new business models for news.
- How local news site Berkeleyside raised $1 million through a direct public offering – Lenfest Institute
- Journalists need to learn how to ask for money: Lessons from Berkeleyside’s DPO – Local News Lab
- From a onetime giant’s receding shadow, a local news site prospers – Poynter
- Here’s how Berkeleyside is turning fans into funders. – Poynter
No one debates the need for real changes in journalism business models, community engagement, publishing products and technology – but there are real questions about how to accelerate those changes. How do we build on what is working while avoiding the pitfalls of chasing scale, and that honor local knowledge and experience? How do we ensure resources for innovation are distributed equitably so that local and independent newsrooms benefit? A series of events, cohorts and programs are aiming to build momentum around positive change. Not all of these are new, but together they paint an interesting picture of how foundations, organizations, and industry groups are trying to speed the pace of meaningful change.
- EJC launches €1.7m Accelerator focused on new business models, with support from News Integrity Initiative & Civil – European Journalism Centre
- What Open Matter’s Local News Bootcamps will equip you to do: There’s no silver bullet. That’s why we need to take a lot of shots. – Matter VC
- Community Listening and Engagement Fund (CLEF) announced that 34 news organizations will get grants to accelerate audience-driven journalism. – Lenfest Institute
- 6 Insights from our first Solutions Journalism Summit with 90 editors, reporters, J-school professors, and engagement experts – Solutions Journalism
- RJI announces 2018-19 class of fellows – Reynolds Journalism Institute
Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa and 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.