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.
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.
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.”
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.