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 and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.
Other tips on using the database: If viewing this on a computer, all projects are listed in the left column. Click on a project name and its longer profile will appear in the right column. If viewing on mobile, clicking on a project name will load the full listing on your screen.
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The Accountability Project is a recently launched investigative journalism unit at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. The three-person investigative reporting team produces short and long-form stories.
KUER’s politics and government podcast and engagement initiatives provide a fun and accessible way to understand how bills become laws at the Utah Legislature and what they mean for the average person.
N.I.C.E. is a mutual-aid collaborative that builds partnerships with local Philadelphia journalists and media makers to help elevate their community-centered reporting and connect them with each other.
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.
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.
The RadioWest Book Club brings listeners together to read and talk about books and has proven to be a great way to reach new audiences, engage with librarians, scholars and other community partners and create an enduring podcast of the monthly club discussions.
KBBI AM 890 is hosted an on-air remote ‘Concert on YOUR Lawn’ Fundraiser – a socially distant homage to our Concert On The Lawn days and an opportunity for us to celebrate our amazing listener-supporters. Throughout the two days, listeners heard the regular shows they love as well as live music, KBBI testimonies and giveaways all culminating in the Concert on Your Lawn event with local musicians broadcasting from their homes.
Valley Public Radio launches a new broadcast series and podcast dedicated to rediscovering the short stories of Pulitzer Prize winning author and Fresno native William Saroyan. The program features acclaimed authors reading the works and discussing their relevance to our lives in the COVID-19 era.
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.
The Accountability Project
In 2019, Connecticut Public’s new senior leadership team started on a mission to fill the gap of local commercial media. With newspapers dwindling and trust in media eroding, Chief Executive Officer Mark Contreras and Chief Content Officer Tim Rasmussen came up with a plan to help win back trust and produce hard-hitting content in Connecticut. The Accountability Project is a three-person watchdog reporting team that takes a deep dive into things that matter to Nutmegers.
Contreras and Rasmussen were able to launch The Accountability Project by hiring an investigator editor, investigative reporter and data reporter. They fundraised by campaigning loyal funders, dedicated listeners and applying for grants. The idea was first pitched in July 2019. The Accountability Team launched in July 2021. It took two years to find the funding and the right people to tell the stories that matter in Connecticut. Even before the team was fully launched, an investigative report on a police-involved shooting produced by senior reporters was honored with and Edward R. Murrow award. The report showed what CT Public is a capable of—even without a dedicated investigative reporting team.
In the seven short weeks that the team has been fully producing stories, The Accountability Project has made waves. They uncovered emails that show the ouster of the president of the University of Connecticut was over a failed fundraising project. In another report, the team uncovered that New Haven’s airport authority took a loan from the same company angling for a 32-year lease to run the airport. Now, politicians are questioning if it’s a good deal. Another story broke the news that hundreds of UConn students asked for vaccine exemptions. The day after CT Public broke the story, it led the local tv affiliates newscasts. The team has also been providing facts checks on the issue of the summer in Connecticut---juvenile car thefts. Democrats say check the data while Republicans insist there more to the story. The Accountability Team is doing just that—checking data, digging beyond the surface and helping daily reporters with deeper stories and they’re just getting started.
The impact is being felt by listeners who are sending in tips through the newly created tips email. Daily, listeners come up with new ideas or express their appreciation for the current work. Even our competitors are taking notice by complimenting the stories and our partners are co-publishing our work as well.
The project has generated $2 million which will be used to pay the salaries and cover all costs for the five-year project. Fundraising is ongoing as CT Public would like to continue the project beyond its current five-year term. Funding comes from listener drivers, grants and through faithful donors.