A project of Democracy Fund

May 8, 2020

Local Fix: Mental Health Check, Recognize the Good, Safety Reminders


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: Mental Health Check

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and after a particularly tough news week, let’s take a moment to take some time to care for yourself. For example, meditate, if you’re comfortable, take a walk around the block, or a personal favorite, or blast a tune (on your headphones) for a solo dance party. If you’re missing the company of your peers, ONA Local leaders from St. Louis to Mexico City are hosting mindfulness events to help you unplug from the news cycle. Join them for origami happy hours or conversations about coping with the pandemic — with more events to come. For more resources, check out our Local Fix from a couple weeks ago. Most importantly, remember that struggling with mental health is not a sign of weakness. Be kind to yourself this weekend.

Giving Tuesday Now ➡️ Next

Journalists know the power of a good story — but sometimes people can be hesitant to share how powerful their own story is. This week on Giving Tuesday Now, a worldwide day of action to encourage donations and demonstrations of support, nonprofit newsrooms opened up to their communities about the challenges and impact of covering the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to guidance from NewsMatch partners like the News Revenue Hub, Institute for Nonprofit News, and the American Journalism Project, newsrooms seeking donations through Giving Tuesday Now were able to gameplan their own approach to a pop-up fundraising campaign. Though the final numbers are still being tallied, many of you invested precious time and energy into your effort. So how can you carry this beyond Tuesday? How can news outlets transform that community energy into a deeper relationship? Telling the next chapter of your organization’s story — and explaining how your supporters are part of it — is powerful. Consider thanking new supporters, reinforcing the value of your local reporting, and sharing your Giving Tuesday Now impact not just with your board and team, but with your community, too. Here are some resources to help you do just that.

Recognize the Good

Inspired by Kristen Hare’s post on the local news outlets that received Pulitzer Prizes this week, we wanted to use this section to acknowledge some of the fantastic work that local reporters have been up to. In celebrating work that feels like a pre-pandemic time capsule, the Pulitzers are “a reminder that local journalism matters all the time, not just when the world is scary and awful,” Hare wrote. We agree. It’s okay — even important — to take time to celebrate the good, in times that are scary and awful. For example,  in the Pulitzers this year collaborations yet again received accolades, as the Center for Cooperative Media points out, and Ida B. Wells was awarded an honorary commendation 90 years after her death for her powerful investigative reporting on brutal violence against African Americans. Of course, there is a lot of journalism worth recognizing that never makes it to an award ceremony (that’s probably a whole other section TBH). Here are a few other examples of local news we are cheering for: a virtual event from The City that left a community member saying it made “lock down a lot less alienating,” City Bureau co-founder Andrea Hart being celebrated by her team, and The Daily Tar Heel, UNC Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, scoring a big victory after more than eight years of trying to get UNC to release the names of individuals found responsible for rape, sexual assault or related acts of sexual misconduct. What would you like to give an award to right now? Hit reply to tell us, or tweet it to us @thelocalnewslab.

Reopening Safety Reminders

With states around the U.S. starting to reopen, it’s okay to take extra precautions as different areas move at different paces. In light of that, we’re resurfacing some of the useful safety guides for journalists that were created earlier on in the COVID crisis to make sure you had their advice at your fingertips. We know that as communities open back up you are out there covering them — as well as navigating your own grocery store, gas station, and more – and that raises new concerns and challenges about how to navigate those situations safely. In the links below we draw lessons from frontline health care workers regarding the steps they take when they come home from work and we explore issues for both domestic and international journalists. However, we also know that some of you are also facing newsrooms opening back up as well as on-site assignments. As such, we’ve included some guidance and check-lists for making sure your workplace is safe. Florangela Davila, News Director at Seattle’s NPR affiliate KNKX, spoke to the DART Center and reflected on how their newsroom changed in the early days of the virus: “Be prepared to reinvent decades of proven working practices in days.” That reinvention will continue as journalists and newsrooms adapt to these constantly changing contexts and challenges. One piece of advice that carries through every single article we reviewed was taking care of oneself and a reminder that mental health and safety is a core part of overall wellness. 

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.