A project of Democracy Fund

August 7, 2020

Local Fix: Community Impact, Conference JOMO, Lessons from the Local Fix

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: Speak with Specifics

recent webinar at Poynter highlighted the smart work of Global Press Journal, an international news outlet that supports local reporters covering their communities, and how the team approaches word choice around the world. “It’s not the role of a news organization nor a style guide to prescribe definitions of identity on large groups of people,” GPJ’s Cristi Hegranes pointed out, sharing three tips for reporters to get specific both for the sake of reader clarity but also source dignity. The whole webinar is worth a watch, but one main tip? Ask people how they want to be identified when you interview them rather than deciding that for yourself. See Global Press Journal’s style guide for more tips here.

Lessons from the Local Fix

We’re starting the newsletter a little differently this week — and by we, I mean me, Dani Rosales. I’ve been a part of the Local Fix team for the past 26 editions (or eight months, but what is time anymore?) and since next week will be my very last one I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things I’ve learned during my time at Democracy Fund. Before DF I was working in community engagement and came here to learn about other sides of journalism — so there was a learning curve. Here are five things I learned while navigating this new (for me) field:

  • Normalize being wrong: This one’s easy to say and harder to do. But realizing that it’s okay to be wrong frees you up to just go for it. 
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and ask ALL the questions: These two go hand in hand for me because letting yourself say “I don’t know” lets you start with a blank canvas where any and all questions and ideas are welcome. 
  • Change will happen: Where you start isn’t necessarily going to be where you end — 2020 is proof of that — but often that inevitable change brings bigger and better ideas.
  • Be imaginative but be realistic: Think outside the box but also, rethink that box. 
  • Sometimes you have to let things go: So, change happened, you pivoted (read as Ross Geller please), and maybe there’s parts of your work that no longer, well, work. I promise you didn’t waste your time — think of it as background.

I could honestly go on, I won’t but I could because this is in no way a comprehensive list of what I’ve learned. Applications for the internship are now open and you know “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So, students and recent grads, shoot your shot and apply. If anyone wants to say hello, you can find me at @DaniRosales27.  

“See You” At the Conference

Conference season looks a lot different this year. But one benefit of our virtual world is that the learnings, tips, and conversations that usually happen in conference halls are now more accessible than ever for those that have broadband access. The Local Fix team has been popping in to various conferences over the past few months, including the Collaborative Journalism Summit, SRCCON, ISOJ, and NABJ/NAHJ, and are looking forward to those coming up like AAJA, ONA, INN at Home: Racial Equity in Journalism, and more. One thing that *hasn’t* changed about conference season? How overwhelming the connections and lessons can be. Here are just a few highlights we spotted, as well as a handy schedule that tells you all about upcoming events and webinars. Have you been to any favorite sessions or discovered resources or tips in recent webinars and conferences? Send em our way.

Celebrate Community-Centered Impact

Journalistic impact is sometimes traditionally measured by prizes won or subscribers converted per article, but we’re heartened this week to see the celebration of impact that shows how news organizations are working with their communities. For example, as Ashley Alvarado highlighted, KPCC-LAist officially marked 10,000 people who have written in to ask their journalists questions, with more than 5,000 answers reported out and more than 50 percent of askers staying engaged with their reporting. Up the coastline of California, Santa Cruz Local hit 500 paying members after 18 months of laying the groundwork in their community with their solutions reporting, interviewing more than 200 residents to understand their priorities ahead of local elections in March. And the National Association of Hispanic Journalists rang in its convention this week with a campaign by Robert Hernandez and several donors to bring the organization’s members to a milestone of 3,000. This week, City Bureau celebrated paying money *out* to its community, with now more than $100,000 officially redistributed to 1,600 Documenters who have tracked more than 950 public meetings in the city of Chicago and its surrounding areas. Three cheers to impact that builds ties with our communities, making us all stronger when we measure journalism in people-centered ways. Huzzah!

Have a good weekend,
Teresa, Christine, and Dani
@gteresa, @newsbyschmidt, @danirosales27

The Local Fix is a project of the Democracy Fund’s Public Square Program, which supports promising new experiments redefining the public square in ways that make it more digital, participatory, and inclusive. 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. Follow us on Twitter at @TheLocalNewsLab.