Building and Dismantling for a New Public Service Media

Can public media help fix market failures in local news? That was our question 18 months ago when we launched the Public Media Mergers Project. Supported by a partnership between the Public Media Venture Group and the Google News Initiative, and housed at the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, the initiative explored a rising trend in mergers between traditional public broadcasters and local digital newsrooms across the country.

Our answer: Public media can absolutely help fix market failures in local news, but it will take a simultaneous process of building on its traditional values and dismantling the…


Proposing a new framework for newspaper ownership and governance that leverages national capital markets and supports accountability and decision-making in local communities

Elizabeth Hansen and Marc Hand

Summary
The legitimacy risk facing newspapers is entangled in a downward spiral with their business risk. Private capital has increasingly stepped in to help manage the business risk and take advantage of the asset strength of newspapers. But the ownership, governance structures, and values of private capital simply do not allow for either the long-term business transition or the social transition that local newspapers need to make in order to truly serve the present-day information needs of their communities.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne

The National Trust for Local News establishes a national nonprofit entity with a focus on assembling…


Our seven tips — from SEO to Email Newsletters

By Elizabeth Hansen & Emily Roseman

As local citizens seek out critical news during this public health crisis, nonprofit newsrooms are doing incredible work under extreme circumstances to meet the information needs of their communities.

This current crisis is placing many layers of stress on the news industry: ad revenues are plummeting, reporters are putting their lives (and their loved ones’ lives) in danger to cover their communities, and newsrooms are operating with not enough resources and round-the-clock demands. As the economic outlook darkens, news leaders are starting to face painful budget and staffing cuts even as they are experiencing surges in traffic. …


Public media is an ally and anchor in the new local journalism landscape.

We are entering a new era of journalism in which responsive, civically-minded local newsrooms engage with their communities to provide news and information that matters.

The business practices that support this new role will not be what we’ve seen in the past in local news, particularly as local newspapers collapse. But there is evidence that these practices work — and can be sustainable in ways that bring newsrooms closer to the communities they serve. The field research I’ve done in news organizations large and small across the country supports this conclusion. …


Our Single Subject News Project at the Shorenstein Center studies a cohort of nonprofit, topically-focused digital newsrooms with the aim of identifying best practices that support their audience engagement and growth. As a part of our research, we routinely convene the cohort to maximize peer-to-peer learning and discuss audience growth strategies with the group. For example, last December, we hosted the cohort for a day focused on email newsletters, and in March we held a daylong session on search optimization tactics for nonprofit news.

The cornerstone of our research has been to identify and track a handful of audience growth…


Part Three of “Business Models for Local News: A Field Scan” from The Shorenstein Center and The Lenfest Institute.

This post is one section of a new report published by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, “Business Models for Local News: A Field Scan.” On May 18, 2018, Shorenstein and The Lenfest Institute gathered industry leaders discuss prospects for finding and seeding new business models for local journalism — and how best to support those working in communities across the country to facilitate change. The report is based on those conversations. The full report is available here.

The Issue: While attracting seed money for new…


Part Five of “Business Models for Local News: A Field Scan” from The Shorenstein Center and The Lenfest Institute.

This post is one section of a new report published by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, “Business Models for Local News: A Field Scan.” On May 18, 2018, Shorenstein and The Lenfest Institute gathered industry leaders discuss prospects for finding and seeding new business models for local journalism — and how best to support those working in communities across the country to facilitate change. The report is based on those conversations. The full report is available here.

The Issue: In the shift from ad-driven to…

Elizabeth Hansen

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