November 13, 2020
Local Fix: Press Pause, And Rewind
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: Take a Break
Hey Local Fix-ers. Usually, we start the newsletter with one good idea. This week’s suggestion is to hit pause when you need to. In that spirit, we’re taking a break from the Local Fix to recharge and reflect. We’ll pop back in with one last newsletter for the year next month, and then be back in early 2021.
While we’re out, did you know that you can find years of the Local Fix on our site LocalNewsLab.org? Here are a few reruns that we felt were worth returning to this week.
Mental Health and the Newsroom
When I talk about journalism sustainability I’m not just talking about new revenue models and business strategies, I’m also concerned with how journalists themselves are finding balance and sustainability in their lives. We often don’t address these issues head-on, and I know a lot of journalists who have struggled in silence unbeknownst to their colleagues and friends. Journalists regularly ask me for resources on issues of mental health, balance, and burnout. The posts below are a mix of personal stories and useful links for people and newsrooms to support each other. [October 2016]
- Practical Tips for Improving Mental Health in the Newsrooms – Source
- Industry Insight: Tending to Journalists’ Mental Health is Crucial for the Business – Editor and Publisher
- Insecurity, Anxiety Were Constant Companions, ABC News’ Vargas Says – NPR
Journalists of Color on What’s Next
“Our task now is not just to report, but to create a world where we can tell our own stories on our own terms,” writes Wilfred Chan at Fusion. Chan’s piece was one of a series of recent pieces from journalists of color discussing what it was like to report from the campaign trail and their concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion in American newsrooms and the country at large in the years to come. Asma Khalid of NPR wrote about the good and the bad experiences she had as a Muslim woman traveling the country covering the campaign, and noted that this was also the first time she “felt unwelcome in my homeland.” [December 2016]
- What It Was Like As A Muslim To Cover The Election – Asma Khalid
- Journalists of Color After Trump – Wilfred Chan
- An Open Letter to Fellow Minority Journalists – Jay Caspian Kang
- Why Did Newsrooms Miss the Trump Wave? Lack of Diversity Played a Huge Part – Meredith D. Clark
- The Year of Minority Media – Katie Zhu
Audience Scales. Community Doesn’t
A piece by Damon Kiesow speaks to a key distinction between national news and local news when it comes to debates about business models. “To succeed, local media have to abandon scale and refocus on community… Local readers need to be served at local scale. The internet is infinite, your community is not.” In his piece Kiesow invokes evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar whose research suggests that humans can only maintain about 150 stable and close relationships. “Media have a similar limit,” Kiesow writes, “it is the number of readers who feel you are part of their community and are willing to invest their time or money with you.” It turns out that Dunbar’s number is useful in a range of other aspects of how we think about building strong organizations, meaningful community engagement and even friendships. The links below provide a range of ideas and lessons for applying Dunbar’s number in different ways. [March 2019]
- Journalism’s Dunbar number: “Audience scales, community does not.” – Local News Lab
- Start-up’s Dunbar number: “Something weird happens to companies when they hit 150 people” – Quartz
- Community Organizing’s Dunbar number: “Our desire to get bigger, stronger and more efficient can blind us to the more formidable strength we risk losing by neglecting primary relationships.” – Beautiful Trouble
- Friendship’s Dunbar number: “Without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones.” – New Yorker
We hope you are able to take a break soon. Reach out here or on Twitter anytime.
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.