A project of Democracy Fund

May 11, 2018

Local Fix: Pick Up Your Phone, News Fluency, Collaboration Guides

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: Learning Lessons from Latin American Journalism InnovatorsThe University of Texas Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas just released a compilation of case studies from their series “Innovators in Latin American Journalism.” It offers “practical advice from Latin American journalists on themes including crowdfunding, design thinking, revenue and transnational collaboration.” There are a lot of good lessons and replicable models in the report (which is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese)  

Pick Up the Phone

Our friend Joy Mayer of the Trusting News Project recently tweeted, “I’ve been trying to call a specific newsroom today. One published number has been busy all day. Another more general customer service number leads to an endless hold. If we value accessibility, journalists, we’ve got to actually *be* accessible.” She finally got through to the circulation department who couldn’t transfer her to the newsroom but gave her another number (which went straight to voicemail). What stories, or feedback, or chances to engage and serve our readers do we miss by not picking up the phone? Below we’ve collected a few creative and important examples of how newsrooms and journalists are using the phone in ways that surface new voices and deepen connection to community.


Today is the Collaborative Journalism Summit (livestream) at the Center for Cooperative Media. They have created a really exciting event focused on the power, potential and pitfalls of journalism partnerships. At the event one of the leading people working on collaborative journalism, Heather Bryant, introduced a collaborative journalism workbook. We can’t wait to get our hands on a copy. Last month one of the collaborative journalism projects funded through the Center for Cooperative Media won a Pulitzer and just last week the Online News Association announced that they were adding a new award category for collaboration (deadline to apply is June 7). Below are three deep dives into collaborative projects, each with detailed guides, lessons, and evaluations of what worked and what didn’t. 

News Fluency

The process, product, and model of journalism has transformed in many ways over the last decade or two, so much so that we have conferences, publications, even newsletters dedicated to those changes. But while we’ve lived this transformation in our newsrooms everyday our audience has only seen pieces of that puzzle. Most news consumers have little idea about the challenges and changes, the process and values, that inform our work. If we want people to navigate an increasingly complex and polluted information landscape we have to show them how journalism works and help them discern what they read. That’s the premise of a number of new projects and was crystalized this week in a new report by the American Press Institute. The authors write: “We believe that if journalists build their journalism in a way that makes the reporting process and principles more explicit — and, as we will describe,  displayed on top of a story rather than embedded inside it — the public will organically develop skills for recognizing good journalism from bad.” Read the full report below and check out the work others are doing in this space.

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.