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April 24, 2020

Local Fix: Grant Deadlines, Photojournalists, Temporary Furlough Funds


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: Technical Tips for Newsletters

As more people are turning to news sites and looking for information on coronavirus in their communities, those visitors may be interested in signing up for your news outlet’s newsletter, or signing up for a pop-up newsletter specifically about coronavirus. If you want to really nerd out on setting your newsletter up for success, here’s a 25 page PDF assembled by the folks at Newspack, the News Revenue Hub, and more. Just want a quick infusion of ideas to steal? Scoot down to see examples at the bottom from WBUR, The Arizona Republic, the Charlotte Agenda, and more local outlets. 

Filling the Furlough Gap

In moments of extreme crisis, there are slivers of opportunity. While our norms have been upended and furloughs and pay cuts are real and painful, people are finding new ways to fill the gaps. (Of course, stepping back during the uncertainty is also important — see this piece we highlighted last week for more on that). Staggered furloughs for many local journalists began hitting this week, and so did opportunities in certain areas to counteract the financial and journalistic losses that come with them. In Oklahoma, a partnership between the Inasmuch Foundation, the nonprofit news site Oklahoma Watch, and the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame launched this week to support reporting from furloughed journalists that meets information needs. In Florida, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information announced paid fellowships for journalists, focusing on research around legal issues and reporting today and for any U.S.-based professional journalist who has been impacted by job loss or pay reduction since January 1. In Chicago, a pair of journalists from different outlets who have translated the news they report for their own families have started a podcast to decipher it more broadly. This pandemic has punched at the most fragile aspects of our local news industry, but it is also bringing out the teamwork of the local news community. Click through for more resources and opportunities that have cropped up over the past week or so:

The Power and Peril of Photojournalism

The photo is seared into the story of this pandemic: the woman, protruding from her car window, protesting Colorado’s stay-at-home order, while medical professionals stood on the street in counter-protest. As more and more people hunker down at home, photojournalists are still going out to document what is happening in our communities beyond our thresholds. Thankfully, people are recognizing their roles: J.K. Rowling even gave credit to Denver photojournalist Alyson McClaran for that image from the protest. Ohio photojournalist Joshua Bickel documented protesters outside the statehouse atrium and later noted, “People of the Internet, I am so grateful for your recognizing and crediting of work. Photographers work *hard* y’all, and it hurts to see your hard work repurposed and uncredited, or taken from a platform and published with no payment.” But there are greater risks than not receiving acknowledgement. Lola Gomez, a photographer at the Austin-American Statesman, was hospitalized with COVID-19: “As a photojournalist, I consider it my duty to run toward the fire, rather than away from it, but my colleagues and I have put ourselves at grave risk to document what is happening to our town.” Some media companies have been slow to get these journalists the safety equipment they need, and those needs will only grow as local governments begin reopening their communities. We, at the Fix, want to take a minute to thank photojournalists for the work they are doing as our eye on the frontlines. Here are some more resources for photojournalists working now, and highlights of their work. 

Deadlines for Funding

Several opportunities for COVID-19 related funding and relief for journalists, freelancers, and newsrooms have upcoming deadlines. We know it’s hard to keep track of the many moving parts, so we wanted to highlight several for you below. For more regularly updated funding opportunities, check out this list from the Lenfest Institute, and an exhaustive list of funds available around the world from WAN-IFRA. Are we missing something that we should highlight in a future Local Fix? Hit reply and let us know.

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.