A project of Democracy Fund

November 6, 2020

Local Fix: Drink Some Water, Thank a Journalist


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: Drink Some Water
It’s been a long week, so, in the words of former Another Round podcast hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu: Drink some water, take your meds, call your person. We’re getting out our glasses now to fill with some H20, and we hope you are, too.

Props to Local Journalists

Healthy local news keeps our democracy healthy, as we were reminded of many times this week. Truly healthy local journalism is community first, and fulfills people’s information needs. We’ve seen many examples across the country. In Wisconsin, Howard Hardee of Wisconsin Watch teamed up with First Draft News to snuff out mis- and disinformation around the state’s vote count. In California, where voters made decisions on topics from voting rights for people on parole to benefits for gig workers, the San Francisco Bay View — a 44-year-old newspaper serving Black residents — is contextualizing the local issues and voter turnout with the broader movement for Black liberation. (Thank you to the Center for Community Media for highlighting their work, along with many others.) The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill put the local and national results into context for residents looking for the state’s next steps. Each of these reporters and outlets, and so many more, have been vital to understanding the local issues and local context. It wouldn’t be possible if they hadn’t built relationships, expertise, and community long before election day. But the need for local news doesn’t end with the election. As Bettina Chang pointed out on Twitter, “the lesson is that local politics is complicated and undervalued. National media (and its focus on federal gov) dominates our civic discourse, to the detriment of anyone who wants voters to understand how their choices affect their everyday lives.” 

News For the People, With the People

NewsMatch, the end-of-year fundraising drive for hundreds of nonprofit news outlets nationwide, is officially underway. Launched this week, the collaboration between the Institute for Nonprofit News, News Revenue Hub, and the Miami Foundation will match thousands of dollars that INN members can raise from individual donors before the end of the year. There’s a lot to learn from the newsrooms who have taken part in NewsMatch campaigns in the past, even if you aren’t taking part in that specific campaign. “…Don’t be afraid to ask for financial support from readers a first, second and third time,” Elizabeth Hambuchen, membership and audience manager at Mississippi Today, shared in an article full of tips from several newsrooms. CoastAlaska, an operations-sharing organization for Southeast Alaska’s public media, did just that last year and shared tips with the Local News Lab, including starting as early as you can — probably earlier than you would think. Last year, Christine profiled five newsrooms’ NewsMatch tips at Nieman Lab that echoed the ideas from Mississippi Today and CoastAlaska, along with several organizations sharing that they took the opportunity to tell the story behind their work to their communities — and built stronger connections by being transparent and showing their work. Read on for more ideas — and how to support newsrooms participating in NewsMatch:

Deadline Roundup

As we wrap things up in 2020 and embrace a new year, application deadlines are fast approaching. We’re here to share some of these professional development opportunities for journalists, freelancers, and newsrooms. We understand that it can be overwhelming to consider all of them, so we’ve highlighted a few that have come across our desks recently. If we’re missing a job or opportunity, let us know so we can feature it in an upcoming newsletter. And apply away: 

Rolling deadline: The Election SOS Rapid Response Fund is providing support for journalists who run into emergent needs around 2020 U.S. elections coverage. Newsrooms and journalists (including freelance) can apply for grants between $500 and $10,000. 

November 7: LION, News Catalyst, and other soon-to-be-announced partners are hiring a product manager to support a program for aspiring local news founders who have been historically shut out of media ownership. Salary is $70,000.

November 13: The American Journalism Project is seeking an associate to join its new Portfolio Support team in developing capacity building resources for nonprofit local news organizations.

November 20: The Solutions Journalism Network is seeking pitches from journalism entrepreneurs interested in (or already) leading a solutions journalism-oriented project in their community. Fellowships come with up to $3,500 in funding as well as the support of a cohort.

November 30: The News Revenue Hub is looking for an audience development project manager to organize and execute their custom audience development work. This role is 50% task-master and 50% creative audience-development strategist with a salary of $60,000 to $70,000.

November 30: Poynter is hosting three week-long women’s leadership academies in 2021, each open to 30 participants. Participants can manage teams more effectively, hone and communicate their strategic vision and steer their organizations toward success.

December 18: The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute is inviting proposals from individuals and organizations who wish to partner with them on innovative projects that strengthen journalism’s future. The fellowships’ stipends range from $10,000 to $20,000.

Drink some water (seriously!),
Teresa, Christine, and Areeba
@gteresa, @newsbyschmidt, @areebashah_

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.