A project of Democracy Fund

April 5, 2019

Local Fix Contribution Guidelines

To further our mission of collaboration between journalists, newsrooms and communities, the Local News Lab is accepting contributions to our weekly newsletter, the Local Fix. Every week the Local Fix reaches 3,000 people who are passionate about the future of local news. We want to elevate the voices and stories of people on the front lines of reimagining local news.

What we’re looking for

 The Local Fix newsletter is designed to collect actionable intelligence for busy local news professionals. We are looking for people who want to weave together useful links, thoughtful threads, and interesting ideas to help our community strengthen their work and try new things.

Are you thinking of new, unique strategies for audience engagement? Do you have an interesting take on a well-known news trend that hasn’t been explored before? What about a resource that could be useful to small newsrooms? Consider adding to these conversations via the Local Fix. You can find examples of sections and Good Ideas in previous issues of the Local Fix on the Local News Lab site here.

We’re also looking for good ideas. This one from our friends at NC Local caught our eyes by making us think differently about tackling a big issue a number of small news outlets face: fundraising.

One Good Idea: The Rivalry Edition
In the weeks leading up to basketball season’s first rivalry game between Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, student journalists at both universities took advantage of the competition in a unique way – through fundraising. From Feb. 1 to Feb. 20, The Daily Tarheel and The Chronicle competed to see 
who could raise the most money, and collaborated on a special joint rivalry edition. The outcome? The papers raised nearly $30,000 and $25,000, respectively. It’s a successful example of collaboration among non-profit newspapers and a fun fundraising idea. (Hat tip to Melanie Sill and the email newsletter NC Local for letting us know about this one.)   

What is the Local Fix?

The Local Fix, an extension of the Democracy Fund’s Local News Lab, is a weekly roundup of the best writing on journalism, paired with concrete advice, tools and resources for people who care about local news. Our audiences include local and national reporters, media funders, engagement specialists, students and local media advocates.

How it works

Each week the Local Fix team gathers a few of the most interesting developments (and one good idea) in the ongoing conversation about the future of journalism and media to include in 3-4 sections of the Local Fix newsletter. Sections include a short description of the topic, along with 3-5 links that are related to it for further reading.  

What works for us

We want to know about what’s new, underreported or unexpected in the conversation about the current state of local journalism and its future. We are more interested in tools and tips than hot takes but we are passionate about lifting up important voices and perspectives on the issues facing local news. We identify trends and pull together unexpected viewpoints that add nuance and richness to current debates. Topics range from stories of successful collaboration on reporting projects and tips on how to prepare your newsroom for an economic recession to translating advice from the nonprofit sector to inform best practices in news. Above all, we want actionable intelligence that people can put to use in their lives and their communities.   

Submission Guidelines

Submissions to the Local Fix should add to the ongoing conversation about sustainability in local journalism in all of the forms it takes. Topics can include diversity, local newsroom innovation, audience engagement, and more. Check out our tips below for more about our tone and style.

  • Contributions will take the form of a single 150-300-word section to be included in the Local Fix newsletter. Each section will include 3-4 links that are relevant to your point or provide additional context to the issue you are writing about.
  • Good Idea submissions should not exceed 250 words.
  • Contributors to the Local Fix will be paid for their contribution depending on the time and amount written.
  • Submit your contribution ideas here. It does not have to be fully written. If it looks like a good fit for the Local Fix, we’ll reach out to you to start the writing and editing process.

Tips for potential contributors

The Local Fix weighs in on a number of developments in the journalism and media community, and the content of our sections can vary greatly within a single newsletter. To combat confusion and keep our writing uniform, we streamline the style and tone of our writing. Here are some things to think about when contributing to the newsletter:

  1. Keep it light. Covering journalism is tough. Yet, even when we’re talking about serious, sometimes sobering topics, while giving these topics the respect they deserve, we try to steer away from the gloom in the tone we often encounter in conversations about local news. Remember to inform, rather than depress or enrage.  
  2. Get to the heart of the matter. Generally, our sections contain 2-3 sentences introducing a topic, followed by 1-2 sentences describing its importance and end with a statement or two closing the section and introducing the links related to it. Keep this formula in mind as you draft your pitches for a section–we aren’t looking for a blog post, but rather a brief overview of an interesting topic that lets our readers know what we’re talking about and why it’s important. The links you attach will do the rest.
  3. Tell us something new. If you read the Local Fix, you know we love good ideas. More, we love new takes on topics within the journalism sphere and the opportunity to learn something from another viewpoint. Take a look at our letter archive to see what the Fix has talked about before. Let us know what we’re missing!

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.