A project of Democracy Fund

December 6, 2019

Local Fix: Narrative Change, Unpublishing, Success


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: Defining Your Own Success
As the year winds down, we know articles on resolutions will start coming your way. So we appreciated Sara K. Baranowski’s recent column in Poynter’s Local Edition about creating her own definition of success in local news. Baranowski is the editor of the (Iowa Falls, Iowa) Times Citizen, and shares how she came to the realization that the role fulfilled her own definition, including “an important job at a small town’s only newspaper in a community that’s come to mean a lot to me.” Success doesn’t have to be working at a large national news organization – it can be doing the great work many of you do in your local communities every day. Read the whole thing here.

Lessons From #GivingNewsDay

For the third year in a row nonprofit newsrooms turned #GivingTuesday into #GivingNewsDay and we wanted to highlight some of the creative and clever ideas newsrooms used to reach their audiences and raise end of year dollars. We loved Mukhtar M. Ibrahim’s live donor white board and notebook posts (they reminded us of David Fahrenthold’s famous Twitter notepads tracking questionable donations from the Trump Foundation, but in this case Ibrahim was tracking real donations to his newsroom!). In Colorado, a group of local foundations came together on #GivingNewsDay to support nonprofit and for-profit local community news all across the state in a joint collaborative campaign focused on “the news Colorado needs.” On Facebook PA Post made a video on what the First Amendment means to them and on Instagram Centro de Periodismo Investigativo created a slide show that explained how every donation would be matched. Below we’ve pulled together a few other links with lessons from publishers for end of year campaigns. 


What Can Journalism Learn from Narrative Change

Occasionally we like to look at adjacent spaces to draw on lessons from people who use media in creative and community-driven ways which can inspire or inform journalism. There is a lot of work in the narrative change space, which focuses on organizers and advocates who use storytelling and narrative to advance work on critical issues facing society. Understanding how narrative works in our culture and in people’s lives is really valuable for anyone – whether you are working in fiction, journalism or activism. Below we’ve collected a few links from the “Narrative Initiative” newsletter that we think could be interesting for newsrooms. 


What Should Last Forever Online?

We have written on a number of occasions previously about news archives, how to use them and how to protect them. Today we want to flip that on its head and look at when something shouldn’t live online forever, and how newsrooms can develop a clear and consistent policy around unpublishing. We recognize that this is a really tricky issue, and one that people struggle with a lot. There isn’t a one size fits all answer to the questions of unpublishing, but in the links below we have collected some key questions you should ask, examples of newsroom policies, strategies for developing your own policy in your newsroom.  

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.