A project of Democracy Fund

August 27, 2021

Local Fix: “This word mainstream is coded”


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: The New Journalism Lesson Plans
School is just about back in session, and we’re inspired by Dr. Nikki Usher’s syllabus for her Journalism Ethics and Diversity class at the University of Illinois. Even if you’re not heading into a classroom this fall, take a look at the resources she’s gathered for understanding myths of journalism, power dynamics in newsrooms, and more — and consider exploring some for your own learning. Or you can take a different approach and follow Heather Bryant’s tip: Any local news org working on their own local history lessons? 

Local Journalism as Mutual Aid

This week, the Lenfest Institute’s newsletter shared lessons learned from local journalism as a practice of mutual aid. Comadre Luna, Big Picture Alliance (grantees of the Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund, a collaboration between the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund and Independence Public Media Foundation), and WHYY’s News and Information Community Exchange (a grantee of the Knight-Lenfest Transformation Fund) shared their perspectives on resilience, healing, and mutual aid. The three pieces are worth a read, but if you have time for one quote, take this one in: 

“This word mainstream is coded. Who gets to determine who’s mainstream and what’s mainstream to whom? In certain neighborhoods, mainstream means mistrust. The mainstream media means transactional. Mainstream media means homogenous. We glorify mainstream media as if it’s the creme de la creme where everyone needs to ascend to, but these creators are on the ground, doing what’s righteous, and they’ve gained the trust of their communities in ways that mainstream media wants.” — Chris Norris, WHYY Managing Editor for Community & Engagement

Read on for more thoughts on local journalism as mutual aid:

 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.