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May 27, 2022

Local Fix: Some pieces of hope after weeks of tragedy

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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.

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Ten pieces of hope after weeks of tragedy

Two years after the murder of George Floyd; two weeks after targeted mass shootings in Buffalo and southern California; and three days after the heartbreaking tragedy in Uvalde, we’re trying to process in whatever ways we can. 

One way, as Embrace Race reminds us, is to share stories of hope, to help us remember what’s possible and what can be reimagined. Here’s how local journalists and supporters are taking action to make a difference in their communities in many different ways.

  • The power-building of Katherine Massey’s work as a local journalist in Buffalo: “We lost a voice yesterday. We lost a powerful, powerful voice… She was in love with the community, and she loved Black people. And she would fight for anybody, without a doubt.” 
  • The space to learn with each other, such as next week’s panel at the Latino Media Summit to create a space to unpack “the best of Spanish-language, bilingual, and Latinx journalism on the tragedy in Uvalde and gun violence targeting our children and other communities of color.”
  • The relaunch of Baltimore Beat as a Black-led, Black-serving news outlet redefining the terms of its relationship with a white funder: “​​It was also important to us that as a white, Jewish family, that we participate in the divestiture of the power that comes with this kind of money. We wanted to divest ourselves, our family, from the privilege that typically further dictates policy [in this case, of a media outlet].”
  • The intentionality that goes into building relationships, not just products, with NHPR’s Qué Hay Spanish-language newscast on WhatsApp: “Keeping relationships at the core of what we do is so important, and central to this work. Two years of groundwork, and now we have more of the confidence to be, ‘okay, let’s really try even newer things, different things – let’s go bigger.’”
  • The journey of Minnesota’s longest-running newspaper serving African immigrants: “The most important thing is you need to know your readers. And you have to know what the problem is that you are trying to solve.”
  • The organizing behind local journalists’ wins in unionized newsrooms: “Before unionization, there are so many decisions that could happen — layoffs, changes in benefits. There’s an ease now that big changes have to happen more slowly and with our input.”
  • The understanding that comes from a community-centered look look into why COVID relief resources aren’t fully reaching those who need them: “Despite the significant challenges community members described throughout our interviews, there was also a resounding sentiment our interviewees shared: gratitude to have a moment of desahogo — to finally share this isolating experience with someone, even if it is just a phone call with a person listening on the other side.”
  • The determination that fills newfound needs, like covering the nuts and bolts of elections in specific states: “We believe democracy is stronger when voters have the information to engage with elections and trust the results — simply that voting is good, no matter who you vote for. Our mission is to report the facts about how the system works and about the safeguards that protect the integrity of the vote.” 
  • The lessons that emerge when people who care about a place come together: “My message to people out of the state of New Hampshire is always: ‘look at what New Hampshire is doing.’…And when I’m in the state, like today, my message is: ‘I hope you you know what you have here and how special it is.’”
  • The possibility that exists when journalists rethink what can be done: “I am counting on this community’s journalistic ingenuity and courage to give us a sharper image of our dwindling democracy, a deeper conversation about the enduring legacy of racism in our country, and bolder ideas on how we might create a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable media industry.” 

Thanks to the Pivot Fund blog, Baltimore Magazine, OIGO, Sahan Journal, UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, El Tímpano, Votebeat, and the Center for Cooperative Media for publishing the pieces above. 

And one more reminder: Please take time to take care of yourself. The Dart Center has resources to get started, but we encourage you to take even 30 seconds to breathe like The News Yogi suggests. Your work makes a difference, and so does your rest.

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— Christine and Teresa
@heres_christine and @gteresa

P.S. Speaking of rest — we’ll be back in your inbox June 24. Christine will see you online at INN Days, June 13-15!

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.

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.

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