A project of Democracy Fund

June 22, 2018

Local Fix: Weather, Podcasters, Side Hustle and Engaged Journalism


Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news.

Correction: Thank you to our readers for pointing out that the #MPRraccoon scaled a building in St. Paul, not Minneapolis, as we stated in last week‘s one good idea. We regret the error, but do like having the opportunity to talk about that raccoon again.

Now, we begin with one good idea…

One Good Idea: Learn from Your Local Meteorologist 
One of the most useful local news sources in Washington, DC is the Capital Weather Gang. They use social media like masters, anticipate questions, and always provide information we need to survive the humidity of DC. The American Press Institute published a take on why Capital Weather Gang, and other meteorologists and weather reporters, provide useful lessons for how to build trust with audiences for local journalists. They share context, anticipate community needs, engage across platforms, make information accessible and visually compelling, and more. Take a look at API’s report to see more examples, and for questions and resources on how you can apply these lessons to work outside of weather.

Connect With Local Podcasters

If you’re in a print or TV newsroom looking to experiment with audio, or a radio newsroom looking for new voices and ideas, Kelly Moffitt has a solution for you: connect with your local podcasting community. Moffitt, an ONA MJ Bear fellow, founded the Flyover email newsletter spotlighting podcasts between the coasts. She has some practical suggestions on how to find the podcasters that are under your nose, from creating a directory to inviting them to a podcast-related event. You can also go straight to them — many cities have listening groups, such as the DC Listening Lounge or the Nashville Podcasters, and there are several different local podcast collectives and networks, too. You could also take things to the next level: get inspired by projects like WNYC’s Talent Accelerator, the PRX Podcast Garage, and new WAMU podcast The Pod Shop, which focuses on using podcasts as a way to build community, find talent, and diversify your content.


The Hustle of the Modern Working Journalist

Picking up extra work to make ends meet has become common place for journalists, full-time or otherwise. The journalism world is often marked with low wages and job scarcity. How does that impact the stories we tell, and who gets to tell them? For those of us who worry about the diversity of our newsrooms and sustaining the people who work in them, we have to look seriously at these issues. The Columbia Journalism Review dedicated its latest special report to what it takes for journalists to stay in the game these days, including some important reporting on class, education, burnout, and a light-hearted-but-all-too-real comic for the occasion. Having a side hustle is so common that Poynter even offers a webinar on the topic. All this can paint a pretty bleak picture. So we’ve collected some bits of insight and wisdom to help you along the way.

Introducing the Engaged Journalism Lab

This week Democracy Fund’s Engaged Journalism program launched its own page on Medium. Head over to the Engaged Journalism Lab to find what Democracy Fund’s engaged journalism grantees, partners, and collaborators are learning, including research on audience-driven storytelling, diversity, equity and inclusion in newsrooms, and more. The Engaged Journalism Lab is run by Lea Trusty and Paul Waters, and they have already released their first big piece of research — a report looking at half a decade of funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion in newsrooms. The report finds fewer and fewer grants going to support this work, and examines the strategies of past grants. The report was released just one day after a Harvard report using the same dataset found that $1.8 billion in grants supported journalism and media between 2010 and 2015, but only 4.5 percent of those have gone to nonprofit local and state reporting efforts. Also released this week, a new report on the intersection between information and community engagement. Check out the details of both reports below.

Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa and Rachel
@jcstearns, @gteresa, @rachelannwegner 

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.