A project of Democracy Fund

March 19, 2021

Local Fix: Diversity in local newsrooms strengthens the reporting — and the business


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: Listen to the Leaders

This week we mourn Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Julie Park, Xiaojie Tan, Hyun Jung Grant and Daoyou Feng, and others that have not been identified yet in the racist and misogynist murders in Atlanta. In the past year, members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have warned of the increase of hateful attacks, building on decades of racism to the community. The Asian American Journalists Association has generously shared reporting guidance for journalists to more accurately and ethically describe the context of these attacks. Take a moment to recognize the Asian American journalists who are putting in the work and learn from the resources.

The Numbers Behind Local Independent News

In the past five years, more than 250 local, independent online news outlets launched in the US and Canada — and many are building a home in a community that the media previously failed to serve, according to a new report from LION Publishers. This week, LION, the Google News Initiative, the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and Douglas K. Smith launched Project Oasis, which examines digital news startups, measures their progress and offers a playbook for news entrepreneurs. Check out this report using data from 250+ newsrooms, which highlights that 29 percent of these outlets serve low-income communities as well as people of color. And compared to the news industry as a whole, women are represented at a higher rate, making up 56 percent of full-time personnel from the 173 organizations that provided demographic data. But only a quarter of the employees are POC, which is about the same as the news industry. One tidbit that resonated most with us: Organizations that were racially and ethnically diverse had median revenue that was 1.5 times higher than the baseline, according to the survey. “Studies have shown diversity increases profitability and innovation,” the authors wrote, and this new data backs that up. If you’re interested in checking out these examples, you can view the Project Oasis map to browse through their database of digitally focused, local news organizations. Curious about building and growing your own digital news startup? The GNI Startups Playbook is a great place to get started. 

Have a good weekend,

Areeba, Teresa, and Christine
@areebashah_, @gteresa, @heres_christine

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.