What Does “Local” Mean?

How do local communities define themselves? How do news outlets define their audiences? And how do journalists know what’s important to their audiences and what niche they can fill? A recent report is a useful jumping off point for discussion of those questions. Join Amy Schmitz Weiss of San Diego State University, Jesse Hardman of the Listening Post Collective, and Madeleine Bair of El Timpano to continue the conversation. 

Off/Page Project

The Off/Page Project, a collaboration between the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and Youth Speaks, combines investigative reporting and youth poetry. Journalists from CIR share details of their investigations with youth storytellers and collaborate to write poetry that is both profound performance art and factually accurate reporting. The resulting poetry is then performed publicly, either in-person or through multimedia packages. Learn more about this project from Mashable and Youth Radio.

Art at the Limits

City Limits, an investigative hyperlocal news source in NYC, created the Art at the Limits series, which actively engaged readers by encouraging them to submit their own stories and artwork highlighting their city experiences. In addition to collecting readers’ art and stories and featuring them on social media, City Limits also created a map of outer borough art galleries where readers could submit their favorite hidden gems.

The Pub

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. Current has initiated many engagement projects, such as The Pub, a podcast on public media’s mission, ethics, people, strategy, and future, and #IAmPublicMedia, an initiative to share stories of people working in the field. Current has held live podcast broadcasts, which attract 30-70 people per event and have helped grow the listenership to over 10,000 listens per month.

Making Connections: Public Legislator Database

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. In 2016, The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting created a searchable database on local lawmakers’ private financial interests, sponsored legislation, and committee appointments to make this information more accessible to the public. Learn more in their guide and the original announcement.

Six Words

In 2014, ProPublica launched its Six Words youth engagement project in partnership with The Race Card Project. This project responded to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ending “separate but equal” legislation, and focused on two Alabama high schools—one integrated, one all-black. ProPublica reporters invited students from each school to meet and share their experiences around the re-segregation happening in their communities and photograph their experiences in school.

Public Press Live

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. San Francisco Public Press launched Public Press Live to present and host discussions with 40 community groups to raise its profile, build trust with the community, and expand membership. Topics for  presentations were developed in concert with leaders of local groups and ranged from sea level rise in the Bay Area to the role of local media organizations in the fake news era. Public Press reporters are currently working on a series of stories inspired by a story tips generated at recent Public Press Live events. More here, here, and here.

Vermont Election Guide

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. During the 2016 election cycle, VTDigger hosted a candidate roster that featured contact information, issues platforms, and campaign finance data for both the primary and general election races. This information was supplied by candidates (in response to a survey from VTDigger) and campaign finance reports filed with the Vermont Secretary of State. Check out their 2016 project announcement, Candidate Comparison tool, Legislative Candidate Guide, and Statewide Candidate Guide.