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March 27, 2020

Local Fix: Kids’ Info Needs, Operations, Recipes

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: Thank You
Thank you. You’re doing a great job. Journalists are getting communities the information they need, professors are teaching virtually, parents are keeping their kids safe, funders are starting emergency response funds, managers are supporting their teams, people are taking breaks when they need them, and on and on. We see all that you’re doing and want to share how thankful we are for you. Consider sharing a thank you with someone else today. Madeleine Bair recently gave a shout out to organizations reaching those “left behind by traditional media channels due to language or tech barriers,” and the folks behind Outlier Media shared gratitude for those protecting Detroit. Follow their lead and email, tweet, or send a shout-out to someone today. If you want us to feature your thank you in next week’s newsletter, tag us @TheLocalNewsLab or hit reply and send your shout-out to us. Virtual hugs and high fives all around. 

Kids Have Info Needs, Too 

More and more people are turning to local news during the expanding pandemic, including kids. With schools closed and families staying home, news organizations are looking at how they meet the information needs and activity needs of adults and kids. The Gazette in Iowa published its first Kids Page this week which gave kids prompts and open space to draw and write in the newspaper and suggested scavenger hunt ideas. In Washington, D.C., FOX 5 is partnering with the Washington Teachers’ Union to broadcast lessons on TV. We are seeing similar arrangements at television stations across the country, especially public TV, such as WCNY in Syracuse, AZPBS in Arizona, and KPBS in San Diego. Newsrooms are also trying to help families talk to kids about coronavirus in ways that are age-appropriate and engaging. NPR created a comic strip called “What Kids Want To Know About Coronavirus” based on one of its stories. WDIV in Detroit produced a specific video targeted at helping kids understand it. Chris Horne of the Akron Devil Strip recently noted that a “kids and families editor” is on his wish list. This might be a good chance to experiment with reaching kids and serving families in new ways — from the printed page to the airwaves to the inbox. Let us know if you are trying anything in your newsroom-at-home.

Operations Opportunities

As journalists (and humans), everyone is trying to figure out the next steps to respond to coronavirus and the impact it is having on our communities, economy, and plans for the future. The first step, if you’re able, is to pause and take a deep breath. Next, take a peek at these resources our partners have gathered for small newsrooms and others looking for operational and fundraising guidance. David Plotz, a former executive at Slate and Atlas Obscura, has recently turned his lens to local news and opportunities for operational improvements during this uncertain time and has started compiling resources, with a focus on fundraising and how small newsrooms can take advantage of the federal COVID-19 stimulus bill. The News Revenue Hub and the Institute for Nonprofit News have also assembled very useful templates for newsrooms to raise money from individuals in the midst of *waves hands* everything. The Committee to Protect Journalists has many resources on safety. And the Newsroom Guide to COVID-19 assembled by a team of volunteers across the country keeps adding resources, including guidance on working remotely. Local newsrooms everywhere are doing a superb job responding to their communities’ needs; we hope these resources are one step to addressing the newsrooms’ needs.  

Recipe Roundup

While we have you, we want to remind you to take a break. As we said last week, it’s important to care for your mental health and take a step back, turn off your notifications, and do something relaxing and fun. And now that a good number of us are working from home for the foreseeable future, what better time to try out a few new recipes? For Dani, a self-proclaimed cooking hater, cooking has become a way to de-stress at the end of the day. It’s a small project that you can start and finish (and eat) that has nothing to do with the news or work. Teresa is on her third round of banana bread, and while Christine confesses that she hasn’t tried any new recipes, these ideas are motivating her to start. 

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.