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December 16, 2022

Local Fix: Cheers to local news ecosystem successes

Welcome to the Local Fix. Every so often 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…

Have you donated to NewsMatch participants?

There are about two weeks left in this year’s matching campaign. You can see how hundreds of nonprofit newsrooms are fundraising with the goal of doubling or even tripling their end-of-year donations from individual supporters (and maybe take some notes for yourself!). Make a note to visit some of your favorite newsrooms’ sites and give a few dollars if you can before the end of December. One model that stands out to us: check out this collaborative fundraising across immigrant-serving media via a partnership with DocumentedEnlace Latino NC, and El Tímpano.
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Cheers to emerging local news ecosystems

Over the past few issues of the Fix, we’ve learned about community listening in North Carolina, fellowships in New Mexico, media mapping in Colorado, and translation partnerships in New Jersey. These are projects that have developed over years of building relationships and solving challenges together — some as long as a decade in the making! 

For our last issue of the year, we are highlighting a few newer local news ecosystem collaborations that have caught our eye this year. These projects show that the model of building local infrastructure with an array of partners, including funders and journalists, that can serve a whole region, not just one newsroom, is growing. Let’s take a look at each of these projects and some of the impressive milestones they achieved in 2022 while adapting the model for where they live. 

  • Delaware: More than 250 Delaware residents, representing various geographic, socioeconomic, political, ethnic, and gender diversities, shared their perspectives on how the state’s local news does — or doesn’t — meet their needs in a report published by the Local Journalism Initiative of Delaware this summer. Allison Taylor Levine, president of the initiative, also announced the project’s board members, bringing together folks from the local library, state housing authority, university, foundation, and more.
  • New Hampshire: In May, Melanie Plenda of the Granite State News Collaborative and partnersorganized their first summit bringing together more than 50 funders, journalists, local leaders, and more to discuss philanthropy for New Hampshire’s local journalism. Check out the Lenfest Institute’s breakdown of the planning process, or the Collaborative’s dispatch from the event in the Concord Monitor.
  • Ohio: Last month, after years of communitylistening and relationship building, the American Journalism Project and partners in Cleveland helped launch Signal Cleveland as the first piece of a statewide nonprofit news network. The newsroom, led by Lila Mills, has been staffing up (they just announced their new CEO!) as they report useful information for and with Clevelanders through their Documenters program. 
  • Oklahoma: Kicked off in 2020, the Oklahoma Media Center celebrated a record number of collaborations between news organizations in the state focusing on underserved communities.The center, led by Rob Collins, now counts more than 25 newsrooms as partners in its editorial collaborations. 
  • Oregon: Thanks to a comprehensive mapping project, researchers in Oregon found that “eight out of Oregon’s 36 counties that have only one or two outlets that contain civic affairs reporting—and in some cases, one of those outlets was a public radio rebroadcasting station that may not be producing its own news content.” But this is only one step in the state’s ecosystem development; the project’s organizers recommended several options that people who care about local news and civic information in Oregon can team up to work on.

Congratulations to all the partners making projects like those above happen. And a major thanks to Eric Frederick, Rashad Mahmood, Diana Alba Soular, Corey Hutchins, and Joe Amditis for taking the Local Fix mic this fall. We’re grateful to them and all of you who are trying new things, working with others to make it happen, and sharing lessons learned so we can all benefit. Cheers to all the hard work that goes into these efforts and beyond!

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On our radar


Jobs, professional development, & funding

We’ll be back on January 20. Wishing you a cozy December and a happy new year.

Christine & Pinay

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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