How to Find and Support Trustworthy Journalism
If you are hungry for news you can trust, journalism that helps you make decisions about your community, reporting that holds power to account, then this is for you. This is my personal advice for people who want to support journalism that matters. It is just a starting point, it is not comprehensive, and it’ll become stronger and more useful if you add your ideas to it. Use the comments to add your list of newsrooms you subscribe to and support.
Now more than ever, it is important to our democracy that we seek out and support good journalism. Every person is going to construct their media diet differently, so any list I create will be incomplete. My goal here is to provide a framework for you to find the news that will challenge, inspire, inform and engage you.
(Update: Since writing this piece I helped launch a new giving platform to help find and support trustworthy local and investigative news — check out NewsMatch.org for more)
A few key pieces of advice:
- Support local news: Subscribe to your local newspapers, donate to a nonprofit newsrooms, become a member at your public broadcasting stations and support the local businesses that advertise on community news sites. Build a relationship with your local journalists, give them feedback, tell them what you’d like to see covered, share their stories.
- Support a mix of media: Construct a diverse media diet with a good mix of indie and alternative news, local, national and international coverage, niche and countervailing points of view. Get outside your bubble.
- Support journalism about the causes you care about: If you care about climate change, support environmental journalism. If you care about kids and schools, support a newsrooms focused on education. If you care about hunger and homelessness, support reporting about poverty, etc… (more on that below)
Finally, where ever you land on the web look for the about section, see if they post a code of ethics, figure out who the staff are. Here is a great guide to spotting fake and untrustworthy news.
The advice below focuses mostly on nonprofit newsrooms, but there are many commercial newsrooms who do important work and deserve your support as well. Give them your attention, subscribe, and engage with them too.
LOCAL NEWS: If you want to support local local news start here. I can’t list every local newsrooms deserving of your attention and your support, but there are a number of great directories where you can find links to trustworthy journalism in your area:
- Find nonprofit newsrooms near you via the Institute for Nonprofit News membership directory and map.
- Find your local public media, including NPR and PBS stations, and community broadcasters.
- Search for members of the Local Independent Online News Publishers near you.
- Find journalists committed to solutions oriented reporting, with the Solutions Journalism Network’s Storytracker.
- Find community newspapers near you with the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s member directory.
- Find local ethnic media outlets with New America Media’s directory
- Go to different neighborhoods to find hyperlocal papers that are cropping back up.
(There are other great newsrooms who aren’t in any of these directories. Can’t find a local newsroom near you? Tweet to me @jcstearns and I’ll help you track down a great local newsrooms near you.)
NICHE AND TOPIC FOCUSED REPORTING: If you care about a specific cause, there is likely a reporting project focused on that issue. Below are a few examples organized into imperfect categories, but check out the Institute for Nonprofit News and The Media Consortium for longer lists of newsrooms covering these topics. (Add more suggestions in the comments too!)
- National Investigative: ProPublica, Center for Investigative Reporting / Reveal, Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones, The Nation Institute, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Ida B. Wells Society
- Education: ChalkBeat, Youth Today, Philly Public School Notebook, Chronicle of Higher Education, Southern Education Desk, Inside Higher Ed
- Criminal Justice: Marshall Project, The Crime Report, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Reason, The Trace
- Race and Social Justice: Colorlines, The Chicago Reporter, Code Switch, AllDigitocracy, EmergingUS, Latino Rebels, LatinoUSA, Vision Maker Media, National Native News, News Taco, Scalawag, Guernica, Dissent, Feministing, Bitch Media
- Health and Healthcare: Kaiser Health News, Stat News, The Pulse, Rewire, Clear Health Costs,
- Food and Environment: Orion Magazine, Inside Climate News, Grist, Food and Environmental Reporting Network, Inside Energy, Harvest Public Media
- International Reporting: GlobalVoices, PRI’s The World, GroundTruth Project, LinkTV, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Global Investigative Journalism Network
PRESS FREEDOM: As the news landscape has shifted fewer and fewer newsroom and journalists have regular access to legal support and protection. This come at a time when we have unprecedented legal, technological and cultural threats to freedom of the press. Support these organizations who are on the front lines of defending the rights of journalists and all of us.
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — Provide legal support for journalists in the US and advocate for press freedom issues.
- Freedom of the Press Foundation — Dedicated to helping support and defend public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government.
- Free Press — Free Press fights for your rights to connect and communicate.
- Student Press Law Center and Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) — Defend high school and college journalists
- National Press Photographers Association — Focused on supporting photographers’ rights and all people’s right to record.
- Pen American — A more literary emphasis on freedom of expression.
- First Amendment Coalition and National Freedom of Information Act Coalition — Dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government.
- Groups that report on press freedom include: Columbia Journalism Review, On The Media, Poynter, Nieman Journalism Lab
(Also notable are the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, though their work is focused more internationally. There are other important rights organizations and government transparency groups whose work intersects with press freedom as well.)
Building a New Infrastructure for News
As with the press freedom groups listed above, there is increasingly a need to support the organizations that support journalists. We have to help create a new infrastructure for independent media. These organizations help train journalists, offer fellowships, fund research and support small independent newsrooms in other ways.
A few of these groups include Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Maynard Institute, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Journalism and Women Symposium, Women’s Media Center, Association for Independents in Radio, Online News Association and others mentioned throughout this post and beyond.)
Today, creating the journalism we want, demands that we help support and defend the media we need.
These places need your support. Your donations will go a long way at all of these newsrooms and organizations. But you can support these places in other ways besides your money. Giving your time, your expertise, or your connections can all help small independent newsrooms. Share their work with a friend or family member via email, social media, or in person. Subscribe to their podcasts, email newsletters, social media accounts. Participate by attending local events, meetings that they are hosting, call-in to talk shows, share feedback when it’s asked for.
Be engaged with the journalism you care about, participate in the news that matters to you, and give what you can to support it.
Read more on giving to news: