A project of Democracy Fund

November 8, 2019

Local Fix: Funding Local News, Internships, and Press Freedom


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:  Solutions to Revenue 
The new Local Newsroom Revenue Project from the Solutions Journalism Network seeks to connect powerful solutions driven reporting to expanding newsroom revenue. “Journalism is in urgent need of repair, on two fronts,” they write in their announcement post. “Journalism must once again become valued and trusted by the public. And local news organizations desperately need new business models.” Solutions Journalism Network is hoping to select 10 newsroom for the project and is accepting applications until November 30.

How to Get Started Funding Local News

For the past few years, we’ve fielded a lot of questions from people at foundations and in philanthropy about how to support local news. We usually say, just like in journalism, asking questions and listening to your community’s needs are the first steps. To help foundations do that, we released a step-by-step toolkit created by Fiona Morgan to help gather the information they need to fund local news and information in their communities. At its core, an ecosystem approach is, as Morgan wrote, “fundamentally about putting a place and its people at the center of our thinking.” The toolkit gathers together many different resources to truly listen, learn, and take action on ways to fill gaps for communities, plus provides lots of examples of how this is happening across the country. Here are a few highlights, as well as some of the great work that the toolkit builds on.

Press Freedom Matters

For the last three years Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting has been fighting a well funded lawsuit attacking their reporting. The legal costs have risen to roughly $7 million. Most of those costs have been covered by pro-bono legal representation, however, many smaller local newsrooms don’t have access to national law-firms that can provide that type of support. Plus, even with that support, the staff time and energy dealing with such a case can be crushing. This week, the Committee to Protect Journalists also released a new, expanded version of their database of attacks on the press around the globe. Both of these announcements coincided with the launch of a brand new campaign from press freedom advocates and newsrooms around the country. ProtectPressFreedom.org was launched this week to reframe the debate around press freedom, not as a special right for journalists but rather as a shared responsibility we all have to defend our right to know. The campaign is one of a series of new resources and responses people have been working on to address the growing legal challenges facing journalists and newsrooms – especially at the local level – today. Here are some resources you can take advantage of:

Internship Time

We’re hiring for our Spring 2020 intern here, and were inspired to share a few other internships that have come across our transom lately. It’s important for all those recruiting interns right now, including us, to recruit from a wide variety of spaces, as an AAJA Voices report reminded us this summer. The report found that “two out of three summer interns from seven top newsrooms came from among the most selective colleges in America.” Oof. If you’re on the hiring end, consider taking some tips on recruitment and hiring from a resource on ‘hacking your hiring’ we’ve shared below from OpenNews. If you’re hiring or looking, tweet at @thelocalnewslab and we’ll share your listing!

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.