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Survive and advance

One theme of the conversation at the NC Local News Summit on Jan. 13 was Brothers Gibb basic: Stayin' alive. Fran Scarlett of INN summed it up: Journalism is the mission, but “you have to be sustainable to get to do the journalism.”

The good news: Resources are out there to help. Below are my takeaways from two more of the speakers at the summit (the full event video is here):

Fran Scarlett, chief knowledge officer and business strategy coach at the Institute for Nonprofit News:
Scarlett’s mission from her base in Wilmington is to move us away from thinking only about the journalism and to get us to think about survival as well. She sees news nonprofits diversifying their sustenance with "earned revenue" — sponsorships, advertising and events — and becoming less dependent on foundations. She sees collaborations growing not just in news but in fundraising. And she sees newsrooms moving beyond the idea that hiring is the only place to think about diversity.

‘Just because you can’t hire somebody doesn’t mean you can’t diversify your content, sources, partnerships, culture and leadership — and your audiences.’

Her summit conversation with NC Local News Workshop interim executive director Melanie Sill begins at 21:30 on the video. Check out her advice on developing sources in communities of color, at 34:00. Learn more about INN here.

   ➵ Solutions Journalism Network is hosting a webinar Thursday at 3 pm ET on using your solutions journalism to gain financial support. [Sign up.]
   ➵ Cierra Hinton, executive director-publisher of Scalawag, a coach in the Facebook Journalism Project’s Sustainability Accelerator and a speaker at the summit, offers her four tips for fundraising campaigns.
   ➵ Northwestern’s Medill School surveyed 1,400 members of the news media to rate their concern about the viability of local news. Here’s what they said.

Lizzy Hazeltine, fund coordinator for the NC Local News Lab Fund, which provides core funding for the NC Local News Workshop, home of this newsletter:
Hazeltine sees a "unique" energy in the North Carolina local news and information ecosystem, where the NCLNL Fund has invested $1.6 million through 54 grants in two years. There are "glimmers of hope" in underserved areas, even in these times of crisis, she said, and the fund is working to increase the number of funders who see essential community value in the work of news and information providers. She also loves the collaboration boom.

‘(Collaborations have) shared content freely among partners, extended hard-won trust with marginalized communities, and reported with those communities and for them, instead of about them.’

For examples of such work, read Hazeltine's assessment of the ecosystem, and listen to her presentation starting at 53:15 of the video. You can reach her anytime by email and also read her takes on Medium. Find out more about the NCLNL Fund here.
Again, the resources... and there's more to come
➡️ Here’s the Big Resource Document from the summit, which was hosted by the NC Local News Workshop at Elon with support from the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at UNC. It's a collection of links and resources from all of the speakers, presentations and breakout sessions.
➡️ I'll have more from the summit next Wednesday. I'd also love to hear and share your thoughts. My DMs are open, and you can also email me.
➡️ Here are last week's takeaways.

Might something stay these couriers?
Speaking of sustainability...

Postal delivery is in the lifeblood of many small-town newspapers, and some North Carolina news executives told me last August that they had some concerns about Postal Service anemia.

The malady may be worsening. Not only are many newspaper deliveries being delayed, but now a Postal Regulatory Commission order could eliminate a cap on postal rate increases for periodicals — a cap that’s now tied to the Consumer Price Index. Without it, the Postal Service could raise newspaper postage about 9 percent each year for five years, the News Media Alliance says — and that could wreck some local newsrooms.

At The News Reporter in Whiteville, twice-weekly delivery of mailed editions is going well inside Columbus County because the local post office is efficient, publisher Les High told me this week. But there are bottlenecks at regional postal centers, he said, and subscribers outside the county sometimes "will get two or three different issues on the same day" because of delays.

More worrisome is what that PRC order might do to mailing costs, he said; those increases might be "very difficult to bear." He suggests that his colleagues in the news community might want to remind Congress, which could step in, that "local news is already under duress."

Federal law leaves it unclear whether the PRC can lift the postal rate cap — so the order is being challenged in court. If you’d like to know more, details and contacts are here.

Oh ... and here's where you can reach your senators and representatives.
Image by Jenny Clore, courtesy of The News Reporter
A statewide DEI project

The NC Local News Workshop at Elon and six media organizations will unite in the NC Media Equity Project, a pilot effort to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in news and public affairs information. The media partners are EdNC (where I am the news and audience editor), ABC11/WTVD-TV in the Triangle, WFAE in Charlotte, The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer/Herald-Sun and PBS North Carolina.

The cohort will be a learning and support network to better represent, include and serve Black, Native American, Latino and LGBTQ residents, and other groups that have been underrepresented in North Carolina media. [Learn more.]

News about the news
📌 The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, housed at the UNC Hussman School, has received a $1 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to aid its mission to bolster and support the accountability work of journalists of color. The money will create an endowment to ensure the society’s stability. [Learn more.]

📌 Philip Napoli, professor of public policy at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy at Duke, will succeed Bill Adair as the center's director on July 1. Napoli has been at Duke since 2016; much of his recent research has focused on the economic crisis in local news, and its effects on democracy and communities.
   ➵ I'll have highlights next week from a presentation at the local news summit by Napoli and research assistant Asa Royal, including the latest on partisan 'pink slime' sites invading the local news landscape.

Adair is the founder of PolitiFact, which won a Pulitzer for national reporting in 2009, and co-founder of the International Fact-Checking Network, which was just nominated for something called the Nobel Peace Prize. He will continue as Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy and director of the Reporters’ Lab in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke.

📌 It took four years, but The Daily Tar Heel won. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court's ruling that the University of North Carolina must release records on violations of its sexual assault policy. Unless lawmakers step in ... case closed.

Well done ...

Pour a glass of wine and get comfortable. This is just a sample of some of the great work this week:

👏 Kate Martin of Carolina Public Press did a painstaking investigation and produced a disturbing report on the status of sexual assault nurse examiners — SANE nurses — in North Carolina. Martin, realizing that no one tracks where these specialists are working, checked with every hospital in the state and found that many do not have their own SANE nurses, who are trained and certified to provide emergency medical attention and gather forensic evidence after a sexual assault. This deficiency — which can cause dangerous delays in proper treatment — can have devastating effects on assault survivors, both in their health and in the quest for justice. SANE nurses aren’t required in North Carolina hospitals, and Martin also found very little transparency about the issue. [Read her series: Part 1 | Part 2]

👏 David Boraks at WFAE tells the story of the struggle to renovate an old Davidson mill that’s contaminated with asbestos, and of the tension and distrust in the Black neighborhood around it. It’s a half-hour of listening well spent — and Boraks is involving the community in an ongoing discussion.

👏 Courtney Napier for Scalawag looked at the record of racism and violence in the use of school resource officers in Wake County schools, and at how students have organized to end the practice, in a two-part series. [Part 1.] / [Part 2.]

👏 Lisa Sorg for NC Policy Watch breaks down the significance of the Colonial Pipeline gasoline spill last August in Huntersville, the largest spill in the United States in this century.

👏 Fewer cars on the road during the pandemic, but more deaths in crashes. Why? Greg Barnes reports for NC Health News.

👏 Some inspiring stories about creatives and communities in Charlotte celebrating their identities, history and pride in the face of gentrification and pandemic:

... but we've got work to do

ICYMI: These numbers are disquieting. For the first time, more than half of Americans in an Edelman poll (56%) agree that "journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations." Also:
  • 58% agree that "most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”
  • 61% of Trump voters say they trust their employer's CEO, but only 21% trust journalists.
 More on the poll results, and the challenge we face, is here.
Also for your consideration...
➡️ A collaboration by two Idaho journalists in different newsrooms to engage Latino residents offers insight into the power of listening. Stephanie Castellano of API has the story.

➡️ Audience work, often marginalized, is more important than ever and can make for a well-rounded journalist, Samantha Tomaszewski argues in Poynter.
Bulletin board
Job postings
📌 Editor, The Sanford Herald.
📌 Editor, Race & Place, Scalawag.
   ➵ BTW: Here’s a place where students can look for internships, and where newsrooms can post theirs: the Poynter internship database.

📌 ProPublica, with support from The Pudding, is sponsoring need-based $750 scholarships for 25 students — to help with attendance at a journalism conference, subscriptions, software, FOIA fees or equipment. Students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged. [Learn more and apply by Feb. 22.]

📌 Bookmark this one: The Solutions Journalism Network, which offers funding, training and support for influential projects that address social issues, has an updating post that lists its current grant opportunities, as well as criteria and assistance with your application. 

Free help
📌 In Gather's guide to Journalists in Relationship with Community, four journalists offer tips and insights from experience.
That's all for now. Thanks for being here, and I'll see you next week. Take care. 

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