A project of Democracy Fund

October 18, 2019

Local Fix: Succession, DEI and Funding, and Collaboration


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: Self-care Reality Check

Our one good idea this week is a little different – it is a comic about the complexity of self-care by Deanna Zandt. Zandt breaks down how saying self-care is a solution for all problems puts too much on individual people and doesn’t consider the systems in which we live. Instead, she posits breaking down the concept into four buckets: self-care, self-soothing, community care, and structural care. It really connected with us because the conversation around the future of local news and journalism can put too much focus on individual journalists and newsrooms to ‘just change already’ when we know that we also need to change the systems in which they’re a part of – and provide unique support and community care while doing so. Does this comic connect with you, too? Tell us how by hitting reply and sharing your thoughts.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Funding

This week, Democracy Fund and Dot Connector Studio released a report that looks at how funders have (and have not) supported efforts to build diversity, equity, and inclusion in journalism. Of the $1.1 billion that went into journalism more generally in the United States from 2013-2017, only 8.1 percent went to DEI-focused efforts. “Funders need to work together with urgency and intentionality to avoid grantmaking that reinforces the inequalities this research highlights,” our colleague Lea Trusty wrote in a post announcing the report. The report recommends a few things for funders, including sharing more resources across a diverse pool of grantees, and joining the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund. Also this week, we saw an example of what can happen when important DEI-focused efforts are supported with the release of the Journalists of Color Resource Guide. The guide, created by some of the administrators of the Journalists of Color Slack,  Lam Thuy Vo, Disha Raychaudhuri and Moiz Syed, with support from The News Integrity Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, compiles dozens of resources for JOC on salary, career, training and more. They’ve also identified four areas where JOC need the most support, which can be an additional roadmap for funders that want to answer the call to support more DEI-focused efforts. Take some time to read these resources, and share your feedback on Twitter over @thelocalnewslab.


Covering Critical Issues Through Collaboration

In an earlier Local Fix we shared how fourteen newsrooms were collaborating to cover the climate crisis. We are increasingly seeing newsrooms turning to collaboration to cover wicked problems that feel too big for any one newsroom to cover alone. By combining forces newsrooms are able to leverage their diverse audiences to drive significant attention to the issues and to each other’s work. This approach can result in real impact and even have revenue and trust benefits for newsrooms. The case studies below highlight how working together can help tell powerful stories about rural healthcare, housing, and provide unique services like in-depth voter guides for entire regions. We’ve paired these case studies with two other posts that provide concrete advice for planning and staffing collaborations in your newsrooms.


Don’t be Logan Roy – Make a Succession Plan

Tasneem Raja announced on Twitter that she would be leaving Tyler, Texas, where she has been building The Tyler Loop through deep service and engagement with the local community. She wrote in her Twitter thread about how she has been planning for succession and what parts of The Tyler Loop will continue after she leaves. “Succession-planning for local journalism startup founders, especially those who aren’t likely to live in town for the long haul, needs to start long before it’s needed.” Founders play a profoundly important role in getting new newsrooms off the ground, but succession planning is just as critical for longtime family-owned weekly papers whose owners are looking to get out of the business. In both cases, people have poured their hearts into sustaining these critical local services, and that is why it is so vital to be thinking about how to cultivate the next leaders who can continue the work. We’ve gathered together some resources and examples to help organizations plan for succession. (P.S. thanks Rob Griffin for the Succession joke. Get it?)

Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa, and Zaria
@jcstearns, @gteresa

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.