A project of Democracy Fund

August 13, 2021

Local Fix: New policies for local news and support for journalists of color

Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key questions in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news. But first, we always begin with one good idea…

One Good Idea: Coaching for Journalists of Color
“Knowledge is a form of power,” Cierra Hinton wrote as she shared a new opportunity for journalists from marginalized backgrounds and identities. As the executive director of Scalawag magazine, she has navigated a career in building the transformation of journalism as a leader of color. She and other women are offering support for Black and Indigenous women, trans, and gender non-conforming journalists to learn about organizational management. Likewise, Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow Emma Carew Grovum is building a leadership training cohort for journalists of color working in local news. “If we set talented journalists of color up with a vision of leadership earlier, we can be more successful at retaining them in local markets,” she wrote. 

New Policies to Support Local News

Last month, California dedicated $10 million to improve outreach about direct services and grant opportunities through local ethnic media as part of the Asian and Pacific Islander Equity budget. In June, the New Jersey Civic Info Consortium, created with public funding, announced its first $500,000 in grants to community media outlets and the state committed another $1 million for the next round of support. And up the coast, the Massachusetts State Journalism Commission was recently created to study and recommend similar solutions. 

These are just a few examples of many policy and government projects popping up around the U.S. in addition to national efforts like Rebuild Local News thanks to the tireless efforts of many organizers. ​​Journalist Carla Murphy has argued in Dissent Magazine that only these types of public investments ”will deliver a media system that can serve the news needs of our time, which is a critical mass of well-funded and community-owned outlets throughout the United States.” Murphy also mentions that like many of us working in journalism and philanthropy, media policy wasn’t part of our training. It probably should have been, since as Annenberg Media, Inequality & Change Center Center co-director Victor Pickard has noted, the history of media subsidies are “as American as apple pie.” 

If you’re not sure what to think or where to start, don’t worry — there are lots of useful reads about these efforts and we’ve pulled together a few below. Did we miss an effort or activity happening in your town or state, or a great read on this topic? Hit reply and send it our way.

 Have a good weekend,
Christine and Teresa
@heres_christine and @gteresa

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.