A project of Democracy Fund

April 27, 2018

Local Fix: Empathy, Local TV, Student Newsrooms, Online Harassment


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. If you found us from articles in NiemanLab or raceAhead this week, welcome and thanks for joining the Local Fix community. Reply to this email to say hi and ask us questions anytime.

But first, we always begin with one good idea…

One good idea: Empathy
The American Press Institute released a fascinating study this week on a skill that journalists can use to better cover neglected communities: empathy. Kim Bui explains why empathy is an essential skill, how to actually use it in the field, and how newsrooms can support these approaches. We’ve seen empathy mentioned in other newsroom’s successes and this new study provides concrete tips and ideas on how to actually practice it in day to day work. 


Save Student Newsrooms

Both of us are products of student media and believe in the power of young journalists and the role of campus media as a critical space for innovation and impact. We’ve written about the importance of youth media in the Fix before, and the #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign this week inspired us to highlight it again. People across the country banded together to share why student newsrooms matter – and to ring a warning bell about what we’d lose if they shut down. They are a vital part of the local news ecosystem, and we need them to survive. Are you at a college or student newsroom? Say hi, and don’t miss the opportunity to apply for some funding to help students innovate in journalism – the Online News Association challenge fund for innovation in journalism education’s deadline is May 3.

You’ve Got Spunk Local TV

Much of the attention being paid to local TV news in the past few weeks has been focused on the Sinclair Group’s must-run scripts which the national owner requires local anchors in more than 100 stations to read. At the same time, a series of reports and articles have been published that deeply probe the state of local TV news and profile some of the people who are trying to reinvent it. According to the Pew Research Center, 37 percent of people still get their news from local TV. While that number has been dropping, it’s still significant, and local television doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Here are some of those articles and reports that have come out recently on the state of the field, some of the innovations and new ideas, and questions that local TV is facing.

Digital Self-Defense and Online Harassment 

A series of recent tools, reports and resources provide new insight into online harassment and digital security, especially for women journalists. The Center for Media Engagement conducted 75 interviews with women in newsrooms from around the globe and their report paints a nuanced and troubling picture of the harassment they face and the steps they have taken in response. The same week, Pen American launched a new manual for journalists facing abuse and harassment online, as well as employers and those who want to be allies. This comes just a few weeks after media makers and community organizers launched the Defend Our Movements campaign and the unveiling of a security match making service called the Digital Security Exchange. Other resources to check out include: Delete MeEquality Lab, and Troll Busters.

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.