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.
- “For these women, the pandemic fallout has either ended or threatens to end their journalism careers. I think a lot about the cost to communities of losing their questions and analysis of what’s happening in our country, now.” — Carla Murphy in Mighty Forces
- “From the start, Santa Cruz Local has tried to understand what people want from us because it makes them more likely to value our work and it just makes our product just that much more valuable when it’s driven by the community.” — Kara Meyberg Guzman in Poynter
- Profiles of The Triibe, ZORA, The Undefeated, Coronavirus News for Black Folks, The Root, Outlier Media, The Plug, and Blavity — Nieman Reports
- A meta-profile of the work of Kristen Hare, who reports on the local news industry, by a different industry outlet — Columbia Journalism Review
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.
- How news founders are using independent media to tell the stories of underrepresented communities (video) — LION Publishers
- LION and GNI Startups Lab will coach aspiring news entrepreneurs. Apply by August 17 — LION Publishers + GNI Startups Lab
- The INN Box: Office Hours for Business and Planning Assistance — Institute for Nonprofit News
- Meet the second cohort of Poynter’s 2020 Leadership Academy for Women in Media — Poynter
- Sign up for (free!) one-on-one coaching sessions — Digital Women Leaders
- Now is the moment to fund innovation for news equity — Engaged Journalism Lab
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.)
- “Grow and tend to local news ecosystem relationships through regular engagement with editors, reporters, and independent journalists… You understand that strong relationships are at the core of success in just about any endeavor.” — Resolve Philly, Collaborations Editor
- “The Editor is responsible for crafting a coverage plan that is adaptable, creative, and seeks to hold Montclair’s leaders accountable while explaining to its residents what’s happening in their town and why…. The ideal candidate also cares about the future of Montclair and understands the key role that vibrant local news can play in shaping it.” — Montclair Local, Executive Editor
- “Our mission is to help West Virginians improve their state by producing ‘sustained outrage’ journalism that exposes abuses of power by government, business and other institutions.” — Mountain State Spotlight, Managing Editor
- “You want to use fundraising as a way to build movements that address the root causes of inequity.” — City Bureau, Development Manager
- “We help build and grow sustainable local news organizations all over the country, through financial investment, venture support, and movement building.” — American Journalism Project, Chief of Staff
- “The collaborations leader serves as a catalyst and coordinator, organizing nonprofit newsrooms that share public interest values and editorial standards and can produce stronger reporting by joining forces and combining their resources.” — Institute for Nonprofit News, INN Member Collaborations Leader
- One last thing: Help the Membership Puzzle Project create a database of membership-related job descriptions
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.