Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest (deadline: August 23) and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.
Explore the database of 400+ Local that Works projects. Check out Local that Works contest Winners, Finalists and Semifinalists by clicking on those colored tags.
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The New Jersey Sustainability Reporting project is a statewide news collaborative spearheaded by CivicStory. It generates local news stories about sustainability issues and actions required to resolve the climate crisis. Through 6-month fellowships, early to mid-career journalists report for diverse New Jersey newsrooms and help citizens shift from day-to-day thinking to longer-term consideration of the needs, health, and wellbeing of future generations.
Over 10 weeks, students gained an understanding of the fundamentals of podcasting, production skills and marketing tips, and they walked away with a resource list for the future. WFAE believes in the power of podcasting to amplify diverse voices, remove barriers to storytelling and to build and connect communities.
CareerExplore Northwest is an educational initiative created by KSPS PBS as a workforce development solution for our viewing region. Far beyond a typical job search website, it helps students and adults discover viable career paths by providing behind-the-scenes videos and easily accessible answers to questions about in-demand jobs in the Spokane region and what it takes to get them.
Prior to the pandemic, WFYI had set up a Be My Neighbor Day event at the city library with several community partners, a sensory-friendly area and an expected 1,200 guests. COVID-19 forced us to cancel the live event, so we pivoted to a mix of educational outreach and volunteer engagement for a Be My Neighbor Week.
Grace Weber’s Music Lab (GWML) is a free monthly music education program and talent accelerator for Milwaukee area high schoolers, providing opportunities to refine performance skills, build connections between engaged and talented young people, expose participants to the multiple career opportunities available in creative industries and to participate in performances and talks. This program is critical to meeting the growing and changing needs of our city and youth. Grace Weber’s Music Lab reaches kids with art forms that are increasingly relevant and central to their lives, including diverse music from hip-hop to alternative to spoken word.
In partnership with Fresno Unified School District, the 3rd largest in the state of California and a district with 90% economically disadvantaged and diverse students living below the poverty line without equal access to online learning, Valley PBS created an on-air program from 8am to 9am each day that targets Literacy Lessons for K-3rd students and is taught by FUSD teachers. Students have been able to learn and review fundamentals over-the-air, streaming on Facebook Live daily and on the website since June and lessons are translated into Spanish and Hmong.
At-Home Learning was a rapid response learning service for school closures in our local broadcast region. We created an on-air and digital service that was then shared with PBS stations across the country.
WCMU is re-imagining local journalism by creating partnerships with rural newspapers to produce content and at the same time train J students in broadcast, print and internet story telling. We are harnessing the reach of a public radio network and the local strength of community newspapers to provide an outstanding product, remind news consumers about the value of local news, and give small papers much-needed boots on the ground during a time when contractions in the industry are threatening their existence.
When COVID-19 shutdowns wiped out the possibility of our in-person, hands-on SciGirls Summer camp program for 2020, we created a 5-part series of television programs (30 minutes each) focusing on STEM careers and subjects using modified production resources. Not only was the final result available to the young women who would normally have been part of our camp, but it was also available to our entire community through broadcast, cable, online access and supporting partner organizations.
New Jersey Sustainability Reporting Project
The New Jersey Sustainability Reporting (NJSR) project began in January 2019 at Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media as a collaborative effort among representatives from nine local environmental nonprofits. We shared the goal of supporting new forms of news to address our worsening environmental crisis and, together, create a plan for the future NJSR Hub. This plan included training eight journalism fellows from geographically diverse New Jersey newsrooms; launching a website to aggregate and archive the stories and a newsletter highlighting our multimedia stories; engaging content distribution partners including higher education institutions to help reach a combined audience exceeding those of the newsrooms.
We hired a project manager and began recruiting newsrooms in May 2019. Two months later, we interviewed and selected our eight reporting fellows. In August, we finalized our letters of understanding with the seven participating newsrooms and held three training and orientation days. The fellows began reporting in September, and in November, we launched website with our first 12 stories, and sent out the first newsletter to 2,900 CivicStory subscribers.
Our news editors committed to publishing sustainability stories in return for a stipend of $4,000 which was paid directly to the newsrooms. They were responsible for producing 10-12 print stories or 6-8 video or audio segments. Each newsroom retained their editorial independence and were not obligated to post each other’s content. CivicStory and the NJSR Hub project director communicated regularly with the fellows about story ideas and progress. By the end of the pilot phase in February 2020, we had a total of 59 stories posted to our website. The number had grown to more than 100 by late August.
We started SRHub because we found that news coverage of sustainability issues often fails to match the scale and urgency of our global ecological crises. Citizens need to know how they impact the climate and what they can do to prevent these crises from worsening right at home. Daily news plays a key role in conveying this information and engaging diverse audiences. As the most densely populated state and a birthplace of U.S. industry, we believe New Jersey has important sustainability stories to tell.
Since starting the NJSR Hub project, we have seen a measurable impact on sustainability coverage in our state. Our newsroom editors have cited the fellowship program as the impetus for reporting stories that otherwise would not have been told. There has also been a higher prevalence of front-page sustainability stories across our partner organizations and increased knowledge about the topic on the part of our fellows. We have also partnered successfully with The College of New Jersey, where a spring 2020 journalism and computer science course focused on our work and a student intern developed both a tagging system and interactive map that rolled in Fall 2020.
The NJ Sustainability Reporting project has generated $38,500 in revenue to date. It has received $3,000 in sponsorship from businesses; four foundation grants totaling $23,000; a total of $7,500 from the NJSR Hub founding partners ($2,500 each from CivicStory, the Center for Cooperative Media, and Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education); and $5,000 from crowdsourcing.