December 14, 2018
Local Fix: Freelance Rates, Humanizing Narratives, and Building in Metrics
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: Reaching People With PostcardsThe Media Seeds Project used a creative approach to get news into news deserts across Southeast Ohio: Postcards. In a detailed blog post, Michelle Ferrier describes how Media Seeds used the U.S. Postal Service Every Door Direct Mail program to blanket a region with neighborhood news postcards. In the age of Facebook targeted ads, the Postal Service offers its own ability to target delivery, which can help newsrooms reach people who might live in news deserts or be outside their core readership. The Postal Service allows you to target specific postal routes and customize via a range of demographic data. (We’ve written before about the power of postcards, check out the additional links here).
Freelancers Share Their Pay
Freelancing can be precarious: navigating the healthcare system, figuring out rates, negotiating contracts, and learning how to pitch all contribute to an opaque career pathway. That’s why this week, members of freelance media collective Study Hall have been posting their freelance pay rates on Twitter in the hope that it will draw attention to what it takes to survive paycheck-to-paycheck. We know that freelancers play a critical role in local news, providing important coverage and connecting outlets across a region. The links below are useful for freelancers and the newsrooms who work with them. (Also, be sure to check out our earlier round-up of freelance resources from 2017).
- WhoPaysWriters is an anonymous website established in 2012, that seeks to post freelance rates from writers. – WhoPaysWriters
- I am a freelance journalist. Do I need to buy liability insurance? – CJR
- Freelancers are precarious. When should they push back? – CJR
- If you’re interested in reading more about freelancer’s experience directly, here are just a few that have discussed their year in freelancing: Tiffany Stevens, Karen K. Ho, Harron Walker, Dana Smith
Defining the Narrative of Migration in the U.S.
When media echoes and amplifies political rhetoric designed to amplify fear and hatred, it risks dehumanizing people through its coverage. For example the Associated Press, recently repeated president Trump’s description of asylum seekers as “a ragtag army of the poor.” The AP eventually apologized, but these choices shape public sentiment, public policy and public perceptions of critical issues. Rather than parrot hateful language, newsrooms can carefully challenge it by contextualizing their reporting on migrants and asylum seekers. We should seek to help people understand the complex issues behind this story, which can only happen if we help people understand each other. Too often we see those in power having their words amplified, while the voices of people at the center of the story are missing. Here are a few examples of best practices, as well as tools that may be useful in the process of conveying stories to, and about, migration.
- To Counter Misinformation on Caravan, This Site Is Letting Central Americans Tell Their Own Stories – Remezcla
- Why we as journalists need to re-examine the point of telling the same old story about migration – Open Canada
- What is life really like in a Texas border city? – Borderzine
- Veteran journalist Rosario Mosso Castro efforts to attempt to challenge the immigration narratives in both the U.S. and Mexico with her piece, “Racismo mexicano.” – ZetaTijuana.com
- Buzzfeed gave kids in the caravan cameras. These are their photos. Read: This Is What The World Looks Like For Kids Traveling In The Caravan. – Buzzfeed
- Who captured the photo of a family running from tear gas, shot over the U.S-Mexico border? Read: “The cruel image of ‘border protection'” – CJR
Metrics Metrics Metrics
As you do your planning for the year ahead, don’t forget to add in how you’ll measure, how you’ll learn, and how you’ll adjust in the face of shifting trends and feedback. If not conceived well, metrics can lead newsrooms, foundations, and others down a path that doesn’t serve their communities. Alternatively, they can be used wisely to listen, learn, change, and make work more impactful. There are no silver bullet metrics that everyone working in news should use, but considering your newsroom’s goals, impact, and needs is important. Perhaps you’ll discover that you need to rethink how you measure success, and build metrics to fit that. But you have to do some of the thinking upfront. (One opportunity to get on the metrics train is to check out American Press Institute’s Metrics for News program – they’re providing subsidies for newsrooms next year – apply by January 18). For more thoughts on metrics, get started with these links:
- Apply for funds to help start 2019 with better newsroom analytics – API
- Measuring Media Impact: 5 Steps to Put You on Track – Lindsey Green-Barber
- Impact Glossary – Center for Investigative Reporting
- A Q+A with Kathy Zhang, the New York TImes’ newsroom and product analytics manager – NYTimes
- Metrics to Move the Membership Needle – News Revenue Hub
- Choosing journalism metrics that actually count (and are countable!) – Hearken
- Why Impact Became a Crucial Metric for Local News – MediaShift
- Which metrics truly matter to improve your online content – Journalism.co.uk
P.S. This is our intern Gabe’s last week writing for the Local Fix. We’re thankful for everything he contributed to the team this semester! Go check his work out on Twitter @gabemschneider.
Have a good weekend,
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.