A project of Democracy Fund

November 2, 2018

Local Fix: Support Local News, Contracts, Elections, and Hiring


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: Spread the word about NewsMatch to help local news

This week marked the launch of NewsMatch, the end-of-year fundraising campaign that aims to raise millions of dollars for nonprofit news. For the next two months, donations to 155 nonprofit newsrooms will be doubled and there will be a national campaign focusing on the importance of local news and investigative reporting. That is where you come in – we need your help. Check out NewsMatch.org, spread the word (you can grab images to share, too), tell your story, and encourage people to donate to support quality journalism. If NewsMatch is going to work, we need thousands of people talking to their neighbors and friends about why journalism that serves the public depends on public support. Thanks! (If you want to talk about other ways to support NewsMatch, reach out to Josh at jstearns@democracyfund.org.) 

Election Coverage From #LocalFix-ers

Last week, we featured different ways news organizations have been creating voter guides for communities. They all provide tangible resources, such as polling locations, candidate guides, and ways for voters to ask questions. We asked you to share your own examples, and got some great ones to add to the list. Alexandra Smith, Whereby.us’ Growth Director, shared a post that outlines what WhereByUs’ The New Tropic has learned from creating voter guides for Miami over the years. Matthew Eckford, WBEZ’s director of institutional giving, shared that WBEZ has approached guides with everything from podcasts to cheat sheets. Melanie Sill, the author of the weekly NC Local newsletter (and a senior consultant for Democracy Fund), shared examples of how organizations in NC were providing resources at the bottom of a recent newsletter, including a call-in show collaboration at WFAE and WUNC. Get inspired for future election coverage – and thanks as always for sharing your links and tips readers.

Rethinking Hiring Practices

Journalism has never fully reflected the communities it serves. Many of you have been working to counteract this problem for a long time. Representation goes well beyond who we hire, but that is one critical leverage point. Luckily, there are some pretty tangible ways to make adjustments to your organization’s hiring practices that can make a difference. For example, the “Mansfield Rule” dictates that you only hire a candidate after receiving a candidate pool that is 30 percent women and 30 percent people of color. Or, organizations like Hearken have suggested getting rid of cover letters. Plus, have you made a recruitment plan and taken a good hard look at how you write job descriptions? Those are just a few examples – and we have many more below. How about your organization – how have you made your hiring practices more inclusive and equitable? Reply directly to this email with any examples or suggestions, and we may feature it in the future.

Lawyer Up: Four Contract Issues that Shape Journalism 

Contracts of many different kinds can shape our jobs, impact our ability to report on critical issues, and even undermine the public’s right to know. A series of recent articles examine very different kinds of contracts, from freelancer employment contracts to social media terms of service, and provide some concrete guidance for how to navigate them. Whether you are negotiating a big new editorial collaboration or interviewing an employee of a local company, the links below offer a unique view into how legal agreements all around us can intersect with journalism. 

Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa, and Gabe
@jcstearns@gteresa@gabemschneider

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.