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Ecosystems Toolkit

Part 0 Ecosystems Toolkit

A Guide to Assessing Your Local News Ecosystem

By Teresa Gorman and Fiona Morgan

How do people in your community get news and information about what’s happening where they live? You might answer newspapers, TV, radio … but how about social media? Libraries? The community center bulletin board? The church bulletin? The neighborhood listserv? The neighborhood bar?

Our news and information ecosystems are complex and evolving as media and technology change while at the same time local newspapers consolidate and disappear. They are important to learn about if you want to make a positive impact on your community. Whether your goal is raising awareness about clean water, improving community safety, increasing civic participation or any number of other goals, you won’t get far if your community lacks quality information and equitable ways to communicate and engage.

We’re excited to share that we’ve launched a new tool that can help you map your media ecosystem to help find and support this information and engagement.

Across the country, foundations and philanthropists are coming to realize that local news and civic information is a critical element of a healthy community and democracy, and that they have a role to play in its future.

Local news organizations have faced a catastrophic economic downturn, as well as increasing questions about how well they do or do not serve the diverse communities that make up our country. This erosion in local news is tied to drops in civic engagement, weakened connections in communities, and escalating costs of government due to lack of accountability.

We’ve heard many funders, philanthropists, and community foundations who are familiar with the problems say that it can be challenging to figure out the solutions — how can they get started supporting the future of news and information in their communities?

That’s why we created “A Guide to Assessing Your Local News Ecosystem” — to help answer this question. See case studies, research, and other tips all in the guide at that link.

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