A project of Democracy Fund

May 22, 2020

Local Fix: Equitable Collaboration, Layoff Tips, Online Conferences


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:  Lessons from (now) online conferences​

Usually, we’d be in the midst of a season of conferences, opportunities to share lessons, connections, and community in the industry. But now many conferences are figuring out how to pivot online. Last week, the Center for Cooperative Media’s Collaborative Journalism Summit seemingly went off without a hitch using eight platforms. The team behind it shared a super useful post with their approach and what they learned along the way. Then this week, the Online News Association announced their annual conference will be “everywhere” its typically 3,000 attendees are in October. Their post shares the behind-the-scenes thinking behind the decision, things they hope to learn, and plenty of resources for other event planners thinking through the same things. As event organizers worldwide plot their new plans, we love to see the transparency and helpfulness of CCM and ONA. 

Living Through Layoffs

As the pandemic continues on, so do the painful cuts in newsrooms. Poynter has a rolling list of where and how many jobs in journalism are lost. It’s hard to know what to offer when every Thursday and Friday the layoffs come knocking again. But many others have shared resources about how to cope with a layoff and/or furlough, so we’ve compiled a few of them below.  Our world is made stronger by all of you — people who seek the truth, understand the needs of their communities, and work together to hold our government accountable. We see you and we appreciate you. Thank you for all you do.


Equitable Collaboration

More than 750 people signed up to tune in last week to the aforementioned Collaborative Journalism Summit, surpassing the 150-175 people who usually attend in person. So clearly, there’s an interest in practicing and investing time in collaborative journalism but, what does that mean? Broadly, collaborative journalism is a way of approaching acts of journalism in a team that cuts across entities. But, as we learned in the summit, collaborative journalism can be so much more. Other interpretations of it “mean sharing power among journalists, readers and viewers, community partners, scientists, and more — delivering information that centers and addresses people’s voices and needs, together,” shared Christine in her reflection of the summit. Collaborative journalism is often presented as the thing to do to save struggling newsrooms by combining resources and reach, but it’s important to remember who is at the center of your journalism: your community. As Angilee Shah pointed out, it’s important to remember that “representation has to come first. Equity has to come first. Then you build collaborative muscle based on that. If you collaborate first, you risk replicating the inequities already present.” Collaboration, and journalism itself, is at its strongest when we center community voices particularly those that have been historically marginalized. Wondering where to get started with equity-centered collaboration? Here are some helpful links: 


Graduation Season

Excuse us because wow, it’s pretty dusty at our home desks right now after watching a few videos of students graduating via car parades and getting surprise visits from school principals. After you watch those and get yourselves back together, check out the many examples below of how local news outlets are taking on this graduation season. Graduations are bigger than just one day and one mortarboard — they’re a recognition of the work the students, teachers, parents, and more put into their education and the power of their community to celebrate them. Local journalists are helping amplify those celebrations, even in these days when not all stories are happy. News outlets like WUNC in North Carolina, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and the National Press Club are highlighting graduates and saluting the lessons they learned in high school and college. Others like Mississippi Public Broadcasting and The Sunflower at Wichita State University are creating special digital yearbooks and photo galleries. Graduation is also a revenue source for many outlets as Chad Stebbins, the executive director of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, pointed out recently in The NewStart Alliance’s newsletter. Some organizations like the Racine County Eye are experimenting with special graduation sponsorships, ads, and galleries. Are you doing anything special to celebrate your local graduates? Reply or tweet to us @thelocalnewslab and we may feature it in a future newsletter.

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.