A project of Democracy Fund

March 20, 2020

Local Fix: Care and Collaboration During Coronavirus


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: Time to Collaborate

This is a stressful time, but drawing from the strength of community — and collaboration — can be one way to find resilience together. In a time of tight resources and personal bandwidth, several news organizations are teaming up to cover coronavirus together. The Center for Cooperative Media gathered 11 pandemic-refocused newsroom collaborations, from an existing collaborative in New Hampshire pivoting from a nearly-launched project to public radio stations in the Midwest sharing healthcare content and more. Want to learn more about working together on reporting? The Center is hosting the — now virtual, and free! — Collaborative Journalism Summit in May and is sharing resources in the meantime, such as a webinar on what tools to use to work remotely (and collaboratively). 

Standing Up for Our Neighbors

As COVID-19’s reach spreads and we all sort through the many layers of its impact — childcare, small businesses, healthcare workers, and more — there’s an important impact that cannot be overlooked. The racism and xenophobia that has emerged around the origins of the virus is fueled by persistent harmful language. The Asian American Journalists Association, along with the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association, and more released a joint statement this week denouncing racism and urging journalists to stay vigilant. It’s up to local journalists to model responsible reporting and community partnership to support people of Asian descent in America, as well as people living with economic hardship that are hardest hit right now. Reframe, an initiative of Resolve Philly which has led collaborations in the city’s newsrooms focusing on poverty and economic mobility, developed a guide for journalists on how to keep word choice in mind. “Say you’re reporting on an hourly grocery store worker who gets no paid sick leave. They feel ill, but they live paycheck-to-paycheck like many others. Are they ‘vulnerable,’ or is their lack of paid leave putting them at risk?” The guide asks. In this trying time, this guidance is vital for local news to stop the spread of harmful rhetoric and content

Self Care and Coronavirus

Last week, we wrote about the important role journalists are playing during these uncertain times. Your work is crucial as we battle uncertainty and navigate misinformation. And yet, we haven’t spent nearly enough time talking about the way this work affects you. As journalists you spend the day reporting, interviewing and investigating coronavirus’s spread to gather the information for your community needs and it’s okay, normal even, for this to take its toll. But, it’s important to have a conversation about how to take care of our mental health because, as Kim Bui shared: “Your work, whoever you are, matters right now. Your life, whatever you look like, matters right now. We can all only do the best we can to remain centered in the chaos. Try to be a window, add clarity instead of being a siren, adding more chaos.” The Newsroom Guide to COVID-19, compiled by 11 journalists from the Journalists of Color and News Nerdery Slacks, is a resource for how to take care of yourself and others during this time. Check in with yourself and your colleagues — did you eat, are you hydrated, have you taken breaks? You can start small and work your way up — maybe even try turning off (or reducing) your push notifications at the end of the day. Keeping your feelings hidden does you no good — whether it’s a friend or a family member, a fellow journalist who can relate, or even journaling, it’s good to let it out when you can. But above all, remember to be kind to yourself. We’re all adjusting to this new reality, you can take that time, too. Your work will be better for it, but, most importantly, so will you. 

Take a Break

There is a lot going on right now, and as we said above it’s incredibly important to take care of ourselves and each other, as much as is possible. Thankfully, a lot of people are stepping up to provide fun and free distractions for us and for our families. Here are a few that we’ve been taking advantage of this week.

  • Free Concerts – From the Indigo Girls to John Legend, the Democracy Fund staff has been tuning into tons of free concerts streamed from musicians’ living rooms. Stay at Home Fest is a site that is making them easy to track. 
  • Meditation and Staying Active – Teresa downloaded the Peloton app which is free for 90 days. The intro to yoga classes and meditation classes are great. 
  • Play Some Games – Christine recommends this long list of games that can be played in person, virtually, and more via Girls Night In.
  • Draw With Your Kids – Josh has been participating in virtual drawing classes with his kids and popular authors like Mo Willems and Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
  • Visit a Museum – Museums aren’t closed on the internet – here’s a list of various places you can explore virtually. 
  • Connect Virtually – There are lots of different ways to connect with friends virtually if you have the internet bandwidth. Here’s some examples of how people in DC are keeping themselves entertained. 

Thinking of you,
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.