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.
- A guide to assessing your local news ecosystem: Learn how foundations in Chicago, the Mountain West, New Jersey, North Carolina, and more have approached funding local news ecosystems – Democracy Fund
- The Listening Post Playbook: designed to help journalists, newsroom leaders, and community groups listen and engage with communities – Listening Post Collective
- Mapping Media Deserts: Michelle Ferrier’s work defines a media desert as a geographic locale without access to fresh local news and information to inform and educate the public, and explores ways to fill those gaps and use existing assets to support information – Media Deserts
- Community Information Toolkit [PDF]: From 2011, this toolkit shares useful set of processes and resources, including a “community information scavenger hunt” for assessing information needs – Knight Foundation
- How More Philanthropists, Foundations Can Support Local News as a ‘Public Good’ – more tips released just this week – Knight Foundation
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:
- First Amendment Clinics at Law Schools around the country provide free representation and advice to newsrooms. You can find a list or ask for a referral to a clinic in your area at the Free Expression Legal Network.
- Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press has a legal hotline that is a tremendous resource but they are also working to put legal boots on the ground all over the county through their new Local Legal Initiative.
- Poynter just launched a free, in-depth self-directed course you can take on your own time, at your own pace, called “Legal Issues and Your Media Company.” The course covers a wide range of legal issues and focuses on practical approaches to minimizing risk.
- Student Press Law Center provides support to student journalists and their advisors all over the country, and is working tirelessly to pass legislation in every state to strengthen protections for student media.
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!
- If you’re a student passionate about sustainable journalism and civic engagement then apply to join Democracy Fund – Democracy Fund
- List of newsrooms accepting spring and summer 2020 internships – Student Press Law Center
- AAJA-SPJ Emerging Northwest Journalists Internship – AAJA-PDX
- How America’s top newsrooms recruit interns from a small circle of colleges – AAJA Voices
- Hacking Our Hiring: What You Can Do Right Now – Source
Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa, and Zaria
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.