A project of Democracy Fund

September 24, 2021

Local Fix: Envisioning an equitable future (and auditing the past)



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: New tips for source audits
Have you considered tracking the diversity of the people you’re interviewing and mentioning in your reporting? For help getting started, check out this explainer from Chalkbeat. Caroline Bauman and Lamia Bushra walk through best practices for phrasing questions on race/ethnicity, gender, and more. But remember to go a step further: This analysis from Impact Architects, based on their recent audits for KQED, KUOW, and CapRadio, recommends drilling down beyond the topline findings to understand more granularity, such as tracking for race *and* profession. “These insights are often those that spark the most robust conversations when newsrooms are deciding how to develop plans for action based on the audit results,” Eric Garcia McKinley writes.  

Envisioning local news’ equitable future

“It isn’t easy to discuss how newsrooms can come to terms with past and present inequities — but it’s a necessary conversation that must follow the lead of the very communities that have historically been marginalized, maligned and excluded,” reads the introduction of “The Time Is Right Now,” a report from a group of Black leaders, storytellers, journalists, and funders in Colorado. Organized by Diamond Hardiman of Free Press, the Colorado Media Project, and the Colorado News Collaborative, this report outlines specific steps that newsrooms and funders in Colorado — but also in many other communities — can take to recognize and begin to repair the harm that these inequities have caused. (Two examples: an investigative team made up of Black journalists and a database of Black freelance journalists.)

Progress is possible, as evidenced by an example from another region: Leaders at Scalawag have spent the past few years pivoting from its founding, as a magazine that was led by and served mostly white people, to a news organization that serves people of color in the South. For example, Scalawag’s team ended a print edition, launched an Abolition Week, and, most importantly, redefined its theory of change to “one that is reparative, just, equitable, and builds with communities and movement to transform the South and beyond.” This week, the outlet’s team shared that those changes have contributed to its new funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation over the next two years. It wasn’t easy, but the team did the work and are seeing the impact now. Learn more about the Colorado group’s recommendations (in the picture below) and the steps Scalawag has taken in the links.

Screenshot of recommendations from News Voices: Colorado

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