Your ideas for local news: Partner, celebrate, bring back town criers

August 27, 2018
Category: Tech & Tools

On Monday we shared a few small ideas on things that could help local news. NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s Carolyn Fox kicked the discussion off on Facebook and through email. Her ideas included changing habits and looking first to local outlets instead of national ones, aggregating from those outlets instead of using wire stories, and sharing the work of local competitors.

Throughout the week, several readers have shared their ideas, too. Some themes emerged. They include working together and championing local whenever possible. Here they are:

"I thought it was great when around 60 San Francisco Bay Area news organizations (print/TV/radio) collaborated around the topic of homelessness,” Joanne Ritter wrote on Facebook. “I'd like to see more of that kind of solution-oriented journalism around tough, systemic problems. It provides a much-needed big-picture framework and separates it from political rhetoric. It serves as a benchmark to measure how/what ideas are working. And it prepares us to hold government representatives accountable if necessary. It also builds trust in the media as friends/protectors of the people/commons. It builds a sense of community.”

Hearken’s Bridget Thoreson shared an idea some local newsrooms are already trying:

“Partner with your local institutions,” she wrote on Twitter. “Ask to set up a booth at the library or farmer's market to have reporters interact with the public. Show them that you are members of the community, too.”

Want more on the transformation of local news? Join the conversation in our weekly newsletter, Local Edition.

Alex Veeneman emailed his idea, adding to the “work together” chorus.

“I think there needs to be a big emphasis in all for one and one for all, whether it’s local or national. I think because of the pack mentality and competition that we don't often think about how we can truly contribute to the public discussion but instead how we can meet the metrics to survive. While those metrics are important in some cases, I think public trust is more important."

And community, you have a role here, too, Cass Raines wrote on Twitter.

“Engage with your local news outlets. Share information with the reporters in your community and call with compliments and not just complaints.”

Damian Radcliffe echoed Fox’s advice on sharing, not siphoning, local news.

“National newsrooms, don't parachute in to cover stories; pay journos from that area to write for you. There's plenty of them,” he wrote on Twitter. “If a story appeared in local media first, don't just rewrite it, and dress it up as your own fieldwork, publish and credit the original.”

And newsrooms, you have to “celebrate successes more (show why what you do matters),” Radcliffe wrote. “Don't be afraid to revisit previous stories, show what has/hasn't changed. Be selective. In an era of diminished resources, you can't do everything. Focus on what you can do REALLY well, ideally content no one else does.”

On Facebook, Walker Lundy echoed that last tip.

“Be unique,” he wrote.

On Twitter, A.J. Fish had a good reminder for local newsrooms: dust yourselves off.

“This is not the newsroom side but it's essential: Advertise the importance of paper, even in the digital age. Repaint those worn-out distribution news racks. Read in public with the masthead showing.”

Keep sharing, I’ll keep adding, but for now, let’s end with this one shared on Twitter by Michael Lortz. (I did ask for crazy ideas.)

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Damian Radcliffe's name. We apologize for the error, it has been corrected.