A project of Democracy Fund

February 14, 2020

Local Fix: Local Love, Hope, Census, and Time Management


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 IdeaLove Notes
 “What’s the most important thing journalism can do for a community? What’s the most important thing journalism can do for itself? The answer is the same for both — help people fall in love with where they live.” This quote from Chris Horne, publisher of The Devil Strip, a news organization that is becoming a community-owned co-op in Akron, Ohio, has really stuck with us. And what better day to help your community fall in love with where they live than good old Valentine’s Day? We saw Washington City Paper do that this week by having Washingtonians write love letters to D.C. The Tampa Bay Times leaned into love and puns with Tampa “Bae” Valentine’s Day cards. These creative takes on showcasing community pride gave us a smile this week, and hope they will for you, too.

Hope for Local Journalism Is Among Us

Last week, reporters who spent decades building up institutional knowledge and hard-hitting journalism at Tribune newspapers across the country left their newsrooms for the last time with buyouts. Then, Thursday morning the 163-year-old McClatchy company filed for bankruptcy, a move that jolted many employees of the 29 daily newspapers it owns and past employees who hold critically underfunded pensions. Being hit with news like this constantly can leave many with little hope in the future of local news. But for a moment, we want to reflect on who does give us hope: people, organizations, and ideas that focus not on saving journalism but on transforming it and reimagining how we can create healthy news ecosystems that truly serve community needs. Innovative ideas like the Civic Information Consortium in New Jersey, the Center for Cooperative Media’s Collaborative Journalism Summit, and funders in Chicago putting a stake in the ground to say journalism is important for the future of the city. Smart people coming together to make awesome things happen like Sarah Alvarez, Candice Fortman, and Michael Morisy from MuckRock, the Center for Community Media expanding to serve more states, and future-thinking product thinkers converging at SRCCON:Product. Projects like LION Publishers, Your Voice Ohio, and NewsMatch. And this is just the start — we could go on forever. We know there’s not one silver bullet or solution, but instead multitudes of people who are already doing that work who give us hope when dark news like this hits. Who gives you hope in local news today? Reply to this email or tweet us @thelocalnewslab and let us know, or as Kristen Hare pointed out in this week’s Local Edition, take a minute to send them a note of thanks. 

Remember the Census?

There’s an important milestone for the U.S. happening in 2020: the census. The results of an accurate decennial census determines a state’s number of votes in the Electoral College, influence which areas get more voices in Congress, and more. This year, given the largely online nature of the census and misinformation surrounding the citizenship question, an undercount is more likely than ever. This is why it is necessary for hard-to-count communities to get accurate information. One of the best ways to reach these communities is through local journalists and media embedded within these communities. But this can be a challenge. KPCC and the Center for Community Media found multiple barriers for media outlets when they talked to community and ethnic media outlets about why they didn’t work with census data or report on it.  With the nationwide Census Day approaching on April 1 (no, it’s not a joke), ethnic and local media need to have the necessary tools to then provide their hard-to-count community members with information needed to make decisions about their participation in the 2020 census. Here are some resources on how your organization can cover the census and reach communities with important census information from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Cooperative Media, KPCC, the Center for Community Media, OpenNews and more. Dive in.

How Not to Manage Your Time

This section of the Local Fix is being written at the very last possible minute. It got put off, delayed, back-burnered, postponed and procrastinated all week. Now it is the deadline and the section needs to get done. Do you know that feeling? Time management sounds like such an easy thing, so — well — manageable. But the proliferation of approaches, books, apps and studies that have tackled this topic illustrate that it is anything but simple. We are working on our own time management practices this year and wanted to share some articles and resources we’ve found in case they are useful to you, too. Rather than focus on specific techniques or apps — which can be very individualized in terms of what works for each person — we’ve tried to share tools and articles focusing on deeper habits that you can put to use regardless of the approach you take. What are your favorite tactics and tools? Let us know — we could use them!

 Have a good weekend,
Josh, Teresa, Christine, and Dani
@jcstearns, @gteresa, @newsbyschmidt, @danirosales27

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.