A project of Democracy Fund

December 17, 2021

Local Fix: What we’re remembering for 2022


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: Take a break!

We are big proponents of taking breaks and centering rest. We know the news doesn’t stop and the work rarely does, but you matter more than your work. Take a break if you can and have a little dance party like our team did after a meeting recently, or try out festive recipes like this one. We’ll be back in your inbox in January 2022. 

Inspiration for the new year

In the past few weeks, we have found ourselves saying “yes!,” “spot on!”, “that’s so smart,” and “there are so many good points here” in so many recent pieces of writing. We couldn’t just choose one to unpack for this week’s newsletter, so we encourage you to spend time with all of the pieces below. As we head into a new year with new opportunities — but many of the same systems and challenges — we’re feeling revitalized by the ideas and examples outlined here.

The value of belonging to and successfully navigating life in your communities is beyond measure. But when news organizations optimize for that value (ie: by promoting lifestyle, service and political journalism to maximize engagement from a predominant group), other groups are inevitably harmed (ie: by being excluded from consideration in the selection of newsworthy information or by being mis- or under-represented in news itself).” — Jihii Jolly, Time Spent

“In the long run, our theory is that sustainability for independent news businesses exists at the intersection of operational resilience, financial health, and journalistic impact, and foundational weaknesses in any one of these areas can cause the entire operation to (at best) underperform or (at worst) fall apart.” — Ben DeJarnette, Lisa Heyamoto, Chloe Kizer, LION Publishers

“Systems-level change is slow, but it’s important to measure progress along the way. Over the past three years, we’ve measured success in small wins that point toward progress — the number of fellows that now have full-time jobs or newsrooms finding new sources of revenue. It can be hard, even for an optimist like myself, to not feel sometimes things are stalled. I’m still learning how to effectively track progress, but I have found that keeping a list and reviewing it often helps to envision the path forward as it’s still being built.” — Sarah Gustavus Lim, New Mexico Local News Fund

A journalism that engages, employs, and promotes reporters and non-professional mediamakers with lived experience of the most pressing issues we face as a country is journalism that builds trust and cements accurate, reliable information as a public good worth saving.” — Darryl Holliday, City Bureau, Columbia Journalism Review

“We must cover the news, including the midterms, from this basic lens: not to humanize public policy, but to ensure public policy treats people as humans to begin with.” — S. Mitra Kalita, URL Media, Nieman Lab prediction

Opportunities on Our Radar