A project of Democracy Fund

March 18, 2022

Local Fix: Beyond financial sustainability


Welcome to the Local Fix. Every other 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…

Hiring hotlines ☎️

In the past few years you may have signed up for a newsletter series, where subscribers get a number of auto-sent follow-up emails over the next few weeks to dive deeper into a topic or complete a challenge. LION Publishers just introduced their version, with a pretty great incentive at the end. Their News Founder Challenge shares lessons and recommendations for refining a local news business idea over six weeks and invites you to schedule a 1:1 consulting session with a LION staff member once you complete the steps. That sounds like a win-win to us!

Sustainability is more than money

“Our conversations around sustainability can no longer be limited to the financial resilience of our media companies,” Catalina Albeanu, digital editor at Romanian news organization DoR, wrote in a Nieman Lab 2022 prediction. We agree: We often group our work on supporting people’s resilience, operations, and community connection under “sustainability,” rather than just business models. Recently we were inspired after hearing an episode of LION Publishers’ News Guest podcast that got deeper into the details of how to put this conversation of sustainability into action. “The ways in which organizations are sustainable that are outside of the definition of money are actually more important because quite often those things are about the people,” News Guest host and Outlier executive director Candice Fortman said. She and LION communications director Ben DeJarnette were discussing the lessons Kara Meyberg Guzman learned from the process of launching Santa Cruz Local over the past few years. 

One big realization: Learn what is worth doing to get you closer to your goal, and leave whatever isn’t. Guzman explained how a big priority for the organization’s culture was to make sure staff worked no more than 40 hours — easier said than done as a startup founder. So the team listed out the tasks they’re each responsible for, their motivations for starting Santa Cruz Local, and how they try to meet those motivations. “If [the task] didn’t get to that why and how, then it didn’t stay on the list,” she said. This kind of audit is music to our ears! Just like Fortman said in the episode, “unless you have the people to run the organization, to do the reporting, none of it really matters at the end of the day.” This reevaluation of how we think about sustainability is key as we all consider what the future of local news can look like.

On Our Radar

Reads

Jobs and professional development

Other opportunities and events

  • March 31, 7pm ET: Solidarity reporting on trans issues, hosted by the Center for Media Engagement, virtual and free
  • April 10: Sustainable Publishing Solutions grant from News Revenue Hub and Knight Foundation, $20,000 grant to support a CMS of the publisher’s choice
  • April 15: Apply for membership with the Institute for Nonprofit News to be able to be considered for NewsMatch 2022

Sending spring vibes,

Christine and Teresa
@heres_christine and @gteresa

The Local Fix is a project of  Democracy Fund’s Public Square Program, which supports work that aims to transform journalism so everyone has access to information they need to participate in our democracy. 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.
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