A project of Democracy Fund

December 20, 2019

Local Fix: We Stand With You in 2020

Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news. This week, we’re breaking form and sharing a reflection on the end of the year.

Here at the Local Fix we write about the impact journalism has on communities, on issues we care about, and on our democracy. But as we close out 2019 we are thinking about the people behind it all: you.

There are more than 3,000 people subscribed to the Local Fix newsletter. You are journalists, editors, publishers, entrepreneurs, funders, developers, designers, engagement specialists, teachers, students, scholars, organizers, technologists, union members and much more. What connects you, and connects us, is that local news has changed your life in some way.

For those of us who care about local news it would be easy to look back at 2019 and feel a sense of mourning and fear. Deep cuts and vast consolidation have touched people close to all of us and the future is uncertain. We have to hold that and acknowledge it.

But when we look back at the past year we also saw transformation. New newsrooms launched that put community needs first, there was a continued rise in donations to local news, powerful models of community engagement became more mainstream, and reporting saved lives, revealed corruption and guided communities through disasters.

We see the struggle, but we also see a deep and profound strength that is rooted in you, in your work, and in your connection to each other. You give us strength, and we are so grateful for all the ways you are building the future of local news together.

As we look ahead to 2020, we were reminded of a passage by the Reverend Victoria Safford, which we wanted to share with you.

 “We stand where we will stand, on little plots of ground, where we are ‘called’ to stand  — in our congregations, classrooms, offices, factories, in fields of lettuces and apricots, in hospitals, in prisons (on both sides, at various times, of the gates), in streets, in community groups. And it is sacred ground if we would honor it, if we would bring to it a blessing of sacrifice and risk… Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges; nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of ‘Everything is gonna be all right.’ But a different, sometimes lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about our own souls first of all, and their condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.”

We stand with you and with hope now, and in 2020. We’ll see you next year.

Have a good holiday,
Josh and Teresa
@jcstearns @gteresa

P.S. Thank you to all those who contributed to the Local Fix this year – we couldn’t do it without you. A special shout-out to our 2019 interns Maya KingKip Dooley, and Zaria Guignard. They made this newsletter possible.

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.