A project of Democracy Fund

November 30, 2018

Local Fix: Native Media, Open Data, and News About Newswriters

Welcome to the Local Fix. 

Why do you read the Local Fix? What would you like to see more of here? This is your last chance to share your thoughts in our surveyhttps://goo.gl/forms/nJRqJQOjuHeAuVqM2. Thanks!

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: Why Donate to News?
Denverite, a local news startup in (you guessed it) Denver, launched a membership program last winter. With the support of the News Revenue Hub, the org used some best practices to get their audiences to chip in for the work they do. Editor Dave Burdick also took the time to check in with members with a simple question — why did they contribute? They shared a variety of reasons, from the quirky tone of the site, to the type of coverage they have. In this season, where everywhere you turn someone’s asking for a donation, it’s worth taking a minute to ask — why would or should people give us money? Who better to ask then those who already have.

The State of American Indian Media

Last week, Democracy Fund released a report by Jodi Rave on the state of American Indian media. Based on interviews with independent Native media practitioners, an analysis of Native media lists, and a survey of tribal citizens, the report provides an overview of the history and scope of media in Indian Country. Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

  1. While newspaper and magazines have seen a significant downturn in Indian Country, radio has thrived, with the number of radio stations serving American Indian listeners increasing from 30 to 59 over the past 20 years. 
  2. Aspiring Native journalists face challenges in building careers, in part due to the fact that there are few degree programs in journalism at tribal colleges and universities. 
  3. Tribal governments, which own an estimated 75 percent of Native media, are a key barrier for independent American Indian media. Eighty-three percent of respondents to a survey by the Native American Journalists Association say Native journalists are intimidated or harassed at least sometimes when covering tribal affairs.

If you’re interested in knowing more about American Indian media and covering tribal citizens, the following resources are a start:

How-To Use Local Criminal Justice Data in Your Reporting

Newsrooms used to think they had to do it all, but increasingly, local journalists are recognizing that different outlets have different strengths and can do more together than alone. Data driven reporting is one such area. Earlier this week, on the same day they released a major new story and related database on NJ police use of force, the reporting team at NJ.com partnered with the Center for Cooperative Media to host a training for other newsrooms who might want to use the data. “There are local stories for months in this database – and they can’t get to all of them on their own,” the Center wrote. This kind of openness and collaboration warms the hearts of us Local Fix editors, so we thought we’d pull together a few more links on reporting with criminal justice data. 

Great Profiles of Local News Leaders

This week was #GivingNewsDay, a national day of giving that aligns with Giving Tuesday. We spent the day trying to lift up the voices of local journalists and shining a spotlight on their work as part of the NewsMatch effort. Journalists often don’t like becoming part of the story themselves, but evidence increasingly shows that our industry needs to open up, be more transparent, and share the stories of what it takes to do this work. We also find solidarity, solace and inspiration in the stories of our peers. That’s why we like to do occasional round-ups of profiles written about local journalists, how they do their work, and the impact they are having. Here are a few that have come across our transom recently:

Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa, Gabe, with a guest appearance from Jessica

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.