A project of Democracy Fund

August 14, 2020

Local Fix: Entrepreneurship, Hack Their Hiring, and Refreshing Honesty


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: Remember Nobody Knows Everything
Earlier this month, Anita Zielina asked Journalism Twitter™: “What is the *one skill* you wish you had learned, or *training* you wish you had, early in your career?” She received 182 replies from people ranging from “how to type” to “understanding professional culture”. The replies are refreshingly honest. Scroll through the replies and let us know what you’d add to the thread by replying to this email or adding it to the thread yourself. Keep an eye out — we’ll tackle some of the topics mentioned in future Fixes. 

Shoutout to Those Doing the Work

At the Fix, we are big fans of giving credit where credit is due. That comes in different forms, but lately we’ve been seeing profiles that acknowledge the labor that people (especially women) have poured into changing the industry and their communities. While tweets and even shoutouts in announcements help call attention to those shifting the winds, profiles like these can also remind us of the humans behind the work. Take some time this weekend to read up on how Carla Murphy, a social justice journalist who researches journalists of color who left the industry, is handling life in a pandemic, how Kara Meyberg Guzman and Stephen Baxter built the Santa Cruz Local, and more.

Entrepreneur Doesn’t Mean Alone

If there’s one tip we have for folks starting a local journalism endeavour, it’s this: Don’t do it alone. In a webinar this week featuring several journalism startup founders, we heard that pop up several times. Flint Beat founder Jiquanda Johnson shared how important it is to identify roles outside of editorial that can help make a startup successful from Day 1, like people dedicated to fundraising, community engagement, communication, and business. A community of mentors, advisors, and other leaders to commiserate with and ask for advice is vital, Scalawag Executive Director Cierra Hinton said. These networks, business skills, and entrepreneurs — especially for women of color — need to be invested in much more, as a trio of useful research reports from the Ford Foundation recently pointed out. But there are resources out there that you can take advantage of now to find that community like LION, INN, Digital Women Leaders, and cohorts like Poynter’s Leadership Academy and ONA’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator. We’ve highlighted a few below, though we know we have missed some. If you have any favorite resources for aspiring entrepreneurs, hit reply and send ‘em our way.

Job Descriptions We Love

While the jury is still out on cover letters, you can learn a lot about an employer from the job description. Where is the organization heading? How do they value a worker? What kind of culture resonates in between the lines? And importantly, what is the pay? This week, a number of our partners shared job descriptions that excited and informed us, providing insights on how organizations frame hiring this year. Or maybe you’re interested in tucking the descriptions away for future reference: Over the past few years, Christine kept a spreadsheet of the most interesting job descriptions to see how the field was evolving and what skills were sought in jobs that caught her eye. Good luck to all those on the job hunt! We’re excited to see the energy that comes to these positions. (Want your next job description to stand out? Check out Source’s #HackingOurHiring series from 2019.)

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. The Fix was started by Josh Stearns and Molly de Aguiar. Disclosure: Some projects mentioned in this newsletter may be funded by Democracy Fund. You can find a full list of grantees here. Follow us on Twitter at @TheLocalNewsLab.