NC Local for Jan. 27: Survive and advance

By Eric Frederick, NC Local newsletter editor

[Also in the Jan. 20 edition: Postal service worries for community newspapers, six NC media orgs join the NC Media Equity Project, a new director for Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center, and a raft of job and grant) opportunities. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox each week]

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):

DIVERSITY IN EVERYTHING (INCLUDING FUNDING)

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.

MOMENTUM AND HOPE

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.