A robust local news infrastructure is vital for any healthy democracy. But as more newspapers across the country contract and even collapse, some communities have found themselves without sufficient local news sources they can rely on to spotlight abuses of power and betrayals of public trust. From widespread civic mistrust to plummeting ad revenue to hedge funds gutting legacy news organizations, the rapidly changing media landscape has presented a myriad of challenges for local newsrooms. And yet, despite these challenges, some of the most exciting, innovative work in journalism is happening at the local level.
This fall, ProPublica is organizing “The View From Here,” a series of virtual events to address the changing local news ecosystems in key cities and counties across the country. For each event, leaders from long-standing news organizations and founders of startups will gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities local newsrooms face today and address why local journalism is well-positioned to remedy some of our nation’s most entrenched problems, including economic inequality, access to health care and climate change.
The first virtual event, beginning at 1 p.m. on August 25, will examine the state of local news in Atlanta, where ProPublica has recently established a new newsroom. The conversation, moderated by ProPublica South editor Mara Shalhoup, will feature Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting, Shawn McIntosh of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nicole Carr of ProPublica, Kamille Whittaker of Canopy Atlanta and Atlanta Magazine and Robin Kemp of The Clayton Crescent.
The second and third events will examine different aspects of local news in Phoenix and Detroit, respectively, and will take place later this fall. For Phoenix, the conversation will focus on community journalism and how news organizations can better serve underrepresented groups. For Detroit, founders of news startups will dissect the day-to-day pressures newsrooms face and analyze why nonprofit media is flourishing in Detroit. Sign up here to stay updated on our events and more.
“The need for local accountability journalism is more acute than ever,” said Charles Ornstein, ProPublica managing editor for local. “The rapid decline of local reporting is a crisis challenging democracy itself, leaving communities without information that is critical to their ability to hold powerful interests and decision-makers accountable.”
ProPublica’s local initiatives have grown each year since 2017, starting with ProPublica Illinois and then the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, which currently works with 15 local news organizations.
Work from these local initiatives has won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, the Scripps Howard Impact Award and a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, among other honors, and has had extraordinary impact across the country.
This event series is supported by McKinsey & Company.