A project of Democracy Fund

January 11, 2019

Local Fix: Work with Us, Set Goals, Build Trust, Reinvent Campaign Reporting


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: How the Tennessean’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force Used Focused Listening
Gather, a community of people working at the intersection of journalism and communities, has published a huge collection of case studies. One that stood out to us was from The Tennessean, which used focused community listening sessions to engage with the community about newsroom diversity and blind spots in their coverage. The Gather case study provides some great details on how they approached this work, the impact it had, and how others can replicate the model. Check it – and other case studies – out at Gather.

The Citizen’s Agenda for Campaign Journalism

We begrudge the fact that it is January of 2019 and we are already doing a section in the Local Fix on campaign reporting but the reality is that if we are really going to fix the problems of political reporting we need to start now. We’ve long been interested in Jay Rosen’s idea of the “citizen’s agenda” which was embraced by places like the Center for Cooperative Media in their Voting Block project with New Jersey voters. It explored ways to put the issues communities care about at the center of election reporting, and in the New Jersey example, even convened diverse community potlucks to listen to residents about their election concerns. In the spirit of listening to those you disagree with, we’ve also included a Jack Schafer column on “why horse-race political journalism is awesome.” We think it is about as awesome as horse-race political journalism, but you can be the judge. 

Building Trust

The Trusting News Project announced this week that they are joining forces with the American Press Institute and launching a new coaching program to support journalists who want to invest in rebuilding the social contract between newsrooms and communities. The Trusting News project has worked with more than 50 newsrooms so far and documented proven recipes for building trust and establishing credibility with audiences. At Arizona State University, the News CoLab has been working with McClatchy newspapers to test big ideas to transform newsroom processes in ways that expand trust and news literacy. One of their partner papers faced a unique threat last fall when California Rep. Devin Nunes launched a full on attack on the paper. Read more about how they used transparency and engagement to maintain trust during this time. (Trusting News, API and the News Co/Lab are grantees of Democracy Fund)

Get your Goals On

Taking the time to plan out projects and goals ahead of time will pay off if you do it with intention. We’ve been gathering some resources and guides to planning projects and figuring out goals to get us there, and we thought we’d share the wealth. Others have also been sharing their goals and plans for the years publicly, like the Engaged Journalism Accelerator.This is a great way to get other people involved and bought in to what you hope to accomplish.

What’s one goal or project you’re working on this year that others in the Local Fix community could help with?

Reply to this email with one – we’d love to feature it in a future Local Fix. 

Have a good weekend,

Josh and Teresa
@jcstearns, @gteresa 

P.S. We are hiring! Join our team as a Senior Associate working on funding efforts to expand  community engagement and newsroom equity. 

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.