A project of Democracy Fund

September 18, 2020

Local Fix: Inclusivity, Playbooks, Community Media


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: Revisit Conference Season
We’ve mentioned before the joy of missing out on conferences — but sometimes it’s nice to tune in, reconnect, and learn something new. Registration closes today for the second part of INN at Home on Sept. 22 and 23, which will unpack racial equity in nonprofit newsrooms, addressing systemic racism in journalism and aligning engaged journalism with anti-racism efforts. The same week, the National Association of Hispanic Publications will host its virtual conference (even Dr. Anthony Fauci is going!), and over the next few weeks ONA is bringing together all things digital journalism in its ONA Everywhere festival. Check out the schedules, and maybe we’ll “see” you there.

Playbooks for Better Practices

Remember when you would take a thick notepad and draw a slowly-changing cartoon on each page, so when you flip the pages quickly through your fingers you can see the figures move? That’s almost what it feels like looking at journalism playbooks released over the years — you can see how journalists and advocates are improving practices and sharing frameworks to change the industry with each new page. Does your news organization want to dive into designing a membership program? Thanks to the Membership Puzzle Project, there’s a hot-off-the-presses guide for that, released this week. Explore lessons across the reader revenue realm via this new playbook from the Google News Initiative. Interested in learning more about participatory journalism? jesikah maria ross wrote a field guide for listening and reporting with communities just for you. If you’re a journalist of color or want to improve your allyship, check out the Journalist of Color Resource Guide from Lam Thuy Vo, Disha Raychaudhuri, and Moiz Syed. Recognize what vulnerable communities put at risk to speak with reporters, and what reporters can do about it, with this guide to less-extractive reporting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics. Want to understand and build equity in journalism collaborations? Angilee Shah and Heather Bryant do, too — explore their toolkit at the Center for Cooperative Media. And one more to keep on your personal radar: Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s workbook for assessing self-care that works for you before you need it. Do you have a favorite toolkit you keep in your back pocket? Let us know.

Inclusivity in Internships

Internship applications for the summer of 2021 are now open at many local newsrooms — but is the applicant selection process overlooking qualified applicants in favor of big name schools? If you didn’t see Omar S. Rashad’s Twitter thread earlier this year describing his experience seeking journalism internships as a community college student — or even if you did — take the time to read his piece co-published in Poynter and The Objective this week. Here’s a snippet: “It’s incredibly discouraging and scary to hear that my community college, which I was attending because I simply could not afford to take thousands of dollars in debt, somehow brought me down as an applicant — so much that it overshadowed my clips, my work experience and the skills I bring to the table.” Rashad’s story has reinvigorated a conversation that newsroom leaders still need to address: internships are the starting line for inequity in the journalism industry. Last year, journalists from the Asian American Journalists Association’s Voices program published an important analysis of journalism internships. While the analysis doesn’t explicitly include local newsrooms, more than two thirds of interns at organizations like The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Politico, and NPR came from highly selective schools. Rashad’s story reminds us that it’s not just about the schools you do (and don’t) recruit from, but about how you treat people regardless of their background.

Community Media Crushing It

We know that people have turned more and more to local media during the pandemic as a lifeline for information about their communities. Now, thanks to a report from researchers Patricia Aufderheide, Antoine Haywood, and Mariana Sánchez Santos published in the Daily Yonder, we have a better sense of the role that local public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels played during the start of the pandemic. These community media stations, which are in around 1,500 communities in the U.S., rose up to provide tech support, town halls, graduation ceremonies, and more. Check out the stories of stations like Akakū Maui in Hawaii and Goffstown TV in New Hampshire and the lessons that we all can learn from community media in the report.

 See you next week,
Teresa and Christine
@gteresa and @newsbyschmidt

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 the organizations here. Follow us on Twitter at @TheLocalNewsLab.