Media industry members understand how important local journalism is to everyday life. However, as more news consumers turn on New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast during their morning commute or catch the national evening news on their television sets, many local journalism stories are being overlooked. This is where the News Impact Project can help.
In January, the News Media Alliance launched the project which includes a News Impact Index of local news stories that have made a positive impact on their local communities. Currently, the Index has 34 stories listed. Each one links to the story on the news outlet’s website.
“We really wanted to demonstrate the positive impact that local news publishers are having on their community and the unique value that their journalism provides,” Lindsey Loving, Alliance director of communications, said.
Last November, the Alliance posted a call on their website for impactful stories (either news or opinion pieces). News outlets were asked to fill out a form asking how the story had a positive impact. The Alliance sought diverse submissions, both in organizations and with topics. At press time, they had received nearly 40 submissions from about 20 different news outlets. They include the Baton Rogue Advocate’s deep dive into the growing number of towns in Louisiana that rely on speeding tickets and the Detroit Free Press’ investigation on how the wrong man may be in prison for a rape charge.
Anjanette Delgado, senior news director for digital at the Free Press, said, “Our mission at the Free Press is to do important, revelatory and unique journalism, and to do that serving the Detroit metro area. This is exactly the type of journalism that can lead to change, and it aligns perfectly with the purpose of the Index.”
In addition to the Index submissions, Jennifer Peters, Alliance reporter for trends and insights, interviews the news outlets for the Alliance website. While the Index is aimed at news consumers, Loving said the Alliance is also sharing blog posts about how the participating news outlets are measuring impact in hopes of informing others. The Alliance also hopes that these stories can inspire other new outlets to become more creative with their storytelling.
The goal is to continue building the Index, so the organization is still accepting submissions on its website and actively reaching out to news outlets when they see a story that might be a good fit.
“As news publishers continue to navigate the challenges that are in front of them, it’s important to help people appreciate and value the role that local journalism plays in their daily lives,” Loving said. “This effort is aimed at providing those examples.”