Has Your Local News Been Outsourced? 10 Tools to Identify and Support Truly Local Journalism

Who produces the local news you read, see and hear? Has it been outsourced to people in another state, or maybe even another country? How can you tell?

On this week’s episode of This American Life, Ira Glass and the team explore what happens when U.S. media corporations outsource local journalism to workers around the world. Most troubling, perhaps, is the way these companies are trying to hide what they are doing. Can someone sitting at a computer in the Philippines really cover the South Side of Chicago, and do Chicago residents have a right to know who is writing these stories?

Similarly Free Press has tracked and revealed how more than 100 local TV stations have outsourced their local journalism to their competitors, so that in some cities only one newsroom is producing the news for three stations. And just last week Steve Myers at Poynter reflected on what makes a paper local in light of cuts backs and consolidation at Advance Publications papers in Alabama and New Orleans.

We are at a moment where these companies are radically changing how the news is made. However, we are also seeing new hyperlocal and nonprofit news organizations emerging, public radio and TV are investing in local journalism and some newspapers are remaining fiercely local and committed to public service journalism.

The question is, how do you tell the difference between something that’s produced locally and something that’s been outsourced? Here are 10 resources that will help you identify and support truly local journalism.

1. Find Out Who Owns the Media: Check out these tools and charts from Free Press, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Columbia Journalism Review.

2. Block by Block: Block by Block is a “network for online pioneers who are creating sustainable models to provide community, neighborhood and local niche news.”

3. The Investigative News Network: INN consists of more than 60 nonprofit journalism organizations focused on investigative and public-interest reporting and community-oriented coverage.

4. Covert-Consolidation Database: Free Press’ interactive mapdocuments the spread of covert consolidation in local TV news stations across the country.

5. Authentically Local: The Authentically Local campaign illustrates the difference between authentic local businesses and those that are just cashing in.

6. Knight Community Information Toolkit: This toolkit is designed to “help community leaders take stock of their community’s news and information flow and take action to improve it.” Also see the New America Foundation’s media-mapping resources.

7. Paper Cuts: Paper Cuts tracks U.S. newspaper layoffs and buyouts. “The total does not include jobs cuts obtained through attrition — a fancy way of saying open positions were eliminated.”

8. Go on an Information Diet: Clay Johnson’s book The Information Diet is meant to help us foster a healthy relationship with the information we consume. See especially the resource page.

9. Get Mediactive: Dan Gillmor’s book and website are designed to help people become active and informed consumers and creators of media. Check out the resource page.

10. Poynter NewsU Media Literacy Resources: The site features online classes and resources for journalists and educators who seek transparency and truth.

And the best way to find out whether your news has been outsourced is to call up your local news outlets and ask them where their stories come from.

You have a right to know who is covering your community. Together we can all demand better.

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One comment

  1. Reblogged this on zRants and commented:

    Writings On Media, Culture, Nature, and Community.
    Has Your Local News Been Outsourced? 10 Tools to Identify and Support Truly Local Journalism

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