Nieman Foundation at Harvard
As they shrink, are local newspapers protecting their “iron core” of local government coverage? This paper says no
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April 3, 2019, 10:13 a.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Christine Schmidt   |   April 3, 2019

After cutbacks at the New York Daily News and elsewhere (and, well, complete shutdowns at DNAinfo New York and the Village Voice), New York City is actually, perhaps surprisingly, at risk of losing its local news. (Local TV does still exist there — and yes, The New York Times is hot stuff, but its priorities for worldwide domination mean there’s plenty of space for other local journalism.) A report by the News Revenue Hub last year determined that there is a “hyperlocal news desert in many pockets of the city…Almost every hyperlocal outlet interviewed said that if they weren’t there to cover the neighborhood, neighborhood news would not be reported at all.”

The City, a nonprofit with funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Knight Foundation, the Texas Tribune’s John Thornton, and others and led by Jere Hester, officially launched Wednesday in its quest to plug some of the potholes in New York City’s local media. The team also includes beat reporters for Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Manhattan, and City Hall. Here’s how The City introduced itself to New Yorkers this morning:

We’re here to listen to your concerns, dig into them and deliver high-impact journalism.

We’re here to expose neglect, incompetence and outright corruption, while demanding accountability on issues that affect a wide breadth of New Yorkers.

We’re here to help drive the civic conversation, drive news coverage and ultimately drive action.

Forgive us if that may sound a bit presumptuous. Some might also say we’re more than a tad arrogant for naming our news outlet THE CITY. (As in: If you have to ask which city, you’re in the wrong place.)

The about page also neatly lays out an explanation about the crisis in local news and the nonprofit model, on the heels of a Pew report that most Americans think local news is doing well financially (it’s not) and that only 14 percent of them have given money to local news in the past year. I know, the about page may not have the wildest traffic, but it’s a good way to start the conversation with readers about chipping in as members.

One of the first pieces published was The City’s diversity report, a task many news organizations avoid but also a cornerstone to addressing journalism’s diversity problem:

We’re dedicated to starting out by sharing this evolving look at who we are. The figures below are drawn from a voluntary staff survey focused on race and gender. Twenty out of 21 employees participated. Over time, this survey may expand to include other aspects of identity or life experience.

Ultimately, we ask to be judged by our work – work we believe is made all the stronger by efforts to field a team that reflects the city we cover.

And no, the pigeon still does not have a name (nominations accepted through April 7 — if you sign up for The City’s newsletter).

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