A project of Democracy Fund

April 26, 2019

Local Fix: Doing the Work & Bringing Your Kids


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: Community Twitter Thread Journalists at ProPublica and The Sacramento Bee have been working together for more than a year to cover abuses in California’s correctional facilities. After publishing their articles, the outlets retold the story via a Twitter thread with bits of information from both outlets’ pages, with more context from The Fresno Bee. It was a fun way to loop collaboration in to every aspect of distribution and storytelling, and clearly a well-coordinated experiment.You can check out the thread here. ProPublica did a similar experiment recently with a Twitter thread compiled by several of their reporters that showed how this way of storytelling can also be a way to share a behind-the-scenes look at working in a newsroom. 

Bringing Your Kids to Work

Thursday was National Bring Your Kids to Work Day. At Democracy Fund we had more than a dozen kids from ages 3 to age 13 fill our office for a day. We saw tweets from some newsrooms who also hosted kids, putting them to work with reporters’ notebooks and even letting some of them behind the camera or in the studio. This is also the week Erin Lee Carr released her book about her dad David Carr, what it was like to grow up in journalism with one of the greats of the industry and how she has charted her own remarkable career. All of this had us thinking about kids and families, but even more about how to navigate home life from the newsroom. So we wanted to share a few links that capture the challenges and the joys of parenting while working in the news industry. 

Calendar Apps

If you really want to meet people where they are with your journalism, there’s one piece of tech that rules a lot of lives: the calendar. We’ve seen a rise in innovations in using calendar apps and add-ons to deliver information in new ways at the local, national, and international level. In addition to meetings and appointments, people can find calendar notifications for events in their communities, sometimes with corresponding stories. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune experimented with the idea late last year when they developed an election calendar for readers to consult during the 2018 midterm elections. According to a case study from the Solution Set, newsroom leaders at the Tribune want to try it again for the next election. Similarly, Frame, an online news magazine, has a feature that drops stories right in users’ calendars so they can follow the news literally as it happens. Innovations like this also remind us that journalism is meant to be of service to the public–why not deliver the news while helping your readers stay organized? The links we selected go into greater detail about the future of news and calendars. (We haven’t seen much written about privacy concerns or how newsrooms might overstep boundaries through these experiments, but we are watching to see if that will be an issue. Keep that in mind when you’re asking people to open up their calendars to you.)

#FollowFriday

Is Follow Friday still a thing? Well, even if it isn’t, we’re bringing it back to recognize some awesome folks working in local news and the journalism space that have been part of impressive cohorts recently. To start,  INN announced their new Emerging Leaders class this week, made up of 11 leaders that “represent the excellence and diversity of nonprofit news organizations.” Then, Report for America revealed their new corps of 61 reporters who will be in 50 newsrooms across the country this year. We also saw the Asian American Journalists Association’s Executive Leadership Program 2019 group taking part in their program last week. These are examples of the power of peer groups coming together to support each other – and give us hope for the future of local news. If these folks are involved, we have a bright future ahead of us.

  Have a good weekend,
 Josh, Teresa, and Maya

@jcstearns@gteresa@mayaaliah

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.