Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local journalism.
Explore the database of 400+ Local that Works projects. To see previous Local that Works contest winners, finalists and semifinalists, click on green, purple or orange tags and our judges’ favorites will show up in the left column.
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As a part of WGVU’s ongoing work to foster an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion, WGVU Public Media is partnering with community leaders of color. Shaping Narratives participants, who are producing work with their communities and for their communities after receiving 30 weeks of training in areas including, decolonizing the narrative, community organizing as a distribution strategy and media skills.
The New Jersey Sustainability Reporting project is a state wide news collaborative spearheaded by CivicStory that generates local storiabout sustainability issues and actions required to resolve our climate crises. 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.
Every weekday morning, Interlochen Public Radio (IPR) presents Kids Commute, an interactive exploration of classical music centered around weekly themes (such as mermaids, opera and elephants) that are designed to educate and entertain our youngest listeners. We also explore ballets, their stories and the music that goes along with them. This interactive radio experience delivers strategies for early childhood artistic development that can be easily replicated in a variety of genres.
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.
Resettled is a six-part podcast series that explores the complex resettlement process through the perspectives of refugees. The podcast team included two former journalists from Afghanistan and a poet and social entrepreneur from Iraq who had experienced resettlement themselves and offered valuable insight. Working with local nonprofits, VPM held a series of storytelling workshops in the community and recorded at booths during international festivals around the state.
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.
Uncuffed is a podcast and radio series made by people incarcerated in California prisons. KALW producers teach them how to record and edit powerful audio stories about life on the inside. Uncuffed seeks to create emotional, human stories to shift the narrative around incarcerated people and change the criminal justice system.
Kansas City PBS creates “Zoom juries” as a novel approach to engaging citizens on critical pandemic related issues. In ‘Justice Deferred’ we partnered with area courts to examine what it will take to restart criminal jury trials suspended since stay-at-home orders went into effect in March.
Sahan Journal, an independent, nonprofit news site in partnership with MPR News, serves the immigrant and refugee populations of Minnesota with professional journalism centered on immigrant lives, voices, and experiences.
The problem that our Shaping Narratives initiative is trying to address is that racial minorities do not have enough access to platforms where the issues that affect them are decided. The outcome we want to see is more action-oriented community engagement and a cohort of leaders, trained by WGVU, effectively elevating narratives of racial, ethnic and religious groups. Over time, this model will increase their capacity to shape and influence social narratives sustainably. The long-term goal is to build media, community organizing and civic engagement capacity into West Michigan’s racial minority networks so they can influence the structures causing racialized outcomes.
WGVU’s Shaping Narratives participants have produced five pilot programs, built from the ground up on the values of inclusion, community and equity. Our host/producers are leaders of color in West Michigan who designed their programs with their communities and for their communities. Shaping Narratives is more than broadcast content. We have wedded the production process to community engagement. Each of our participants has simultaneously developed a half hour pilot program, a local affinity group and a social media following oriented toward addressing issues they are passionate about.
Ngiiwe (TV) was produced by Lin Bardwell, a Native woman from Grand Rapids, who is searching for a way to reclaim the relationships and traditions of her ancestors as her life in the city presents contemporary dilemmas.
Color Out Here (TV), produced by Alice Jasper, a biracial woman raised in Brooklyn, reframes how you see the outdoors, the environment and Michigan places you think you know, as she leads expeditions of urban Black and biracial residents of West Michigan to the outdoors.
Meeting God (TV), produced by Rishi Makkar, a devout Sikh businessman in West Michigan, takes viewers on a journey to learn about humanity’s common values by exchanging immersive spiritual experiences.
The Black Honest Truth (Podcast), produced by Christine Mwangi, born in Kenya and educated in the US and England, explores the lived experience of Blackness in America as both common and distinct between African Americans and African Immigrants and refugees.
Cultural Ingredients (TV), produced by George Walker, a chef and sommelier, explores the geopolitical events that make it possible for us to taste food from around the world —one dish at a time, one ingredient at a time, one person at a time.
We have seen our goal to build capacity in communities of color come to fruition. We trained five leaders of color over 30 weeks. This training, in partnership with the GVSU Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, covered decolonizing narratives, media and production skills and community organizing as a distribution strategy. This training enabled participants to design and produce TV and radio programs that addressed the needs they identified as impacting children and families of color in West Michigan. These programs were previewed at a large preview event in November 2019. The pilot programs then aired on WGVU. The community-support teams, created as part of the process, will be scheduling screenings throughout Grand Rapids and beyond.
This initiative has thus far been funded through a grant and in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.