A project of Democracy Fund

November 9, 2018

Local Fix: Survey, Impact, Hospitality, and Take a Break

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: Help us improve the Local Fix.
 The Local Fix celebrated its fourth birthday just a few weeks ago. We couldn’t have gotten here without you- thank you. We want to learn more about what you’d like to see, what you get out of reading, and how we can make it even better. Could you help us do that by filling out this super short survey?We’d love to know what you think. (And we’ll share some fun Local News postcards with respondents!)  

Journalism That Leads to Change

Sometimes the impact of journalism is immediate, but in many cases the ripple effects can take years to fully understand. The 2018 midterm elections provided a few examples of how local journalism revealed critical issues, providing new information to residents that helped spark meaningful change. From overturning discriminatory laws to securing voting rights for hundreds of thousands of people, these elections were a reminder of the sometimes slow, but often powerful work on behalf of the public that quality local reporting makes possible. Below are three examples of investigative reporting that had an impact at the polls, but we are sure there are others. Send us stories from your state or city by hitting reply or tweeting to @TheLocalNewsLab

How Journalism Can Be Radically Hospitable, Compassionate, Empathetic, and Restorative 

You don’t often come across words like compassion, empathy, and hospitality when you read ‘how-to’ articles about journalism, but we think those values deserve a place in our newsrooms. The way we treat each other, including those we cover, can have a radical impact on building trust, especially for communities who have been historically neglected by local newsrooms. It’s not just a nice thing to say though – there are concrete actions a newsroom can take to live these values. In Sacramento, Capital Public Radio exhibited ‘radical hospitality’ at community events by making the atmosphere welcoming with flowers, candles, and food. Cleveland.com’s newsroom has created a “right-to-be-forgotten” policy to take a more compassionate stance on how long minor crimes and stories should be tied to a person’s name online. Journalists in Atlantic City learned about using ‘restorative narratives’ – stories that highlight the assets of a community rather than the deficits. Find even more ideas from Kim Bui on building an empathetic newsroom at the American Press Institute. 

Do Nothing

Usually we have three sections in the Local Fix. But it’s been a long week (month, year, decade?) and we bet you could use a break. Join us in taking a deep breath, and doing nothing.     

Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa, and Gabe

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.