Local newspapers are struggling everywhere in America.
In a world where advertisements are the primary way to monetize, and stories are competing for eyeballs, we often chase what’s sensational rather than what’s substantive. As competing forms of media have gotten stronger, local journalism has suffered and its current model is no longer viable. We’re witnessing the death of local journalism, as citizens no longer have a sense of what’s happening in their local government nor do they know how to engage.
We have to recognize the vital public function that journalism provides in educating the public.
It’s in the interest of democracy to transition journalism from independent for-profit businesses to non-profits supported by citizens, local institutions, philanthropy, and government.
Local Journalism Fund
To create informed citizens and improve our democracy, I’m proposing that the City of San Diego dedicate $10 million a year to fund non-profit local independent journalism. The City of San Diego will not be able to dictate coverage and journalism will remain independent. In exchange, recipients of the fund will not be allowed to place ads on their digital or print media, because it’s annoying.
Civic Education Fund
We also need to significantly improve civic education. For democracy to function properly, citizens should be informed on policy developments within the city. This starts with better outreach to citizens about what’s going within local government. This can be done through digital media, mail, radio, or other means of communication. I’m proposing that we dedicate another $10 million a year to civic education.
There should be a “THIS IS WHAT’S GOING ON” webpage for the City of San Diego that tells people about policy changes coming.
There should also be a “HOW TO PARTICIPATE” webpage for the City of San Diego that tells people how to engage with local government. It needs to be easy to understand and immediately actionable. The user-interface should prioritize neighborhood engagement and issues-based engagement.
I believe non-profits are a vital part of civic society. Citizens often argue about a city’s priorities and are unhappy with how a city spends money. Non-profits often have the grueling task of doing advocacy work that is necessary but not profitable. To improve civic engagement and participatory government, I believe citizens should each be given $10 a year to give to any San Diego-based non-profit they want. This is a way to give citizens a direct say in how money should be spent.
(We will be expanding this section in the days to come)