OFF THE TOP
You might have heard: All politics is national because all media is national (FiveThirtyEight)
But did you know: More city hall coverage won’t be enough to revive local news (Nieman Lab)
The decline of local news and an increased attention to national politics are often seen as hand-in-hand, but new research has found that the existence of local news coverage doesn’t increase interest in local politics. “Even when focusing on close mayoral elections or races in years without federal elections, we fail to find beneficial changes in the audiences of local media outlets covering mayoral elections in their community,” write researchers Erik Peterson and Josh McCrain. They conclude that increased politics coverage is unlikely to be a draw for local media, and that news organizations should emphasize their nonpolitical coverage as well.
+ Noted: A reporter in Philadelphia was fired over his budding comedy career. Now, his employer has been ordered to reinstate him. (Vice)
Better News: Food and drink reporting drives revenue to The Sacramento Bee
Benjy Egil became The Sacramento Bee’s food and drink reporter in 2018. For the next five years, he watched the city’s culinary scene blossom, attracting Michelin stars and James Beard Award nominations. Egil’s reporting drew more than 1,000 new subscribers to The Bee who wanted to learn the latest about Sacramento’s new cultural heartbeat.
Sacramentans’ love for the city’s local restaurants inspired Egil to write “Sacramento Eats: Recipes from the Capital Region’s Favorite Restaurants.” The cookbook not only highlights the city’s award-winning chefs, it also includes their recipes so that readers can prepare their favorite dishes at home.
Egil recently wrote a piece for Better News on how other news organizations can create a regional keepsake that drives revenue toward their newsroom. Egil discusses that with host Michael O’Connell on this week’s Better News podcast. Read the full study.
Beyond stress: What journalists covering the 2024 election should know about burnout
70% of local journalists have experienced work-related burnout. In this self-reflective session hosted by API and the Atlanta Press Club, journalists will contribute anonymously to a series of prompts to learn actionable insights for reassessing and repairing their relationships with work. The free webinar is on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 12 p.m. Eastern time. Register here.
TRY THIS AT HOME
Creating content across language with tact and trust (LinkedIn, Ernesto Aguilar)
It can be difficult for public media to approach creating non-English content, but Ernesto Aguilar of KQED says that the key is creating relationships that will help guide this work. If bringing in bilingual journalists isn’t an option, English speakers should seek out translation options and be patient with the extra time and effort this may require. Whenever possible, run non-English content by native speakers to catch subtle nuances and unintended cultural meanings.
EU urges Big Tech to promote opposition media in Belarus (Financial Times)
The European Commission is urging tech companies like Google to promote opposition media in Belarus instead of pro-government media outlets. Belarusian journalists have argued that the algorithms of search engines are putting into effect media censorship rules from Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, making it impossible for independent media to reach the people of Belarus.
U.S. News makes money from some of its biggest critics: Colleges (The New York Times)
Every year, U.S. News & World Report ranks universities and colleges around the country — and charges these institutions thousands of dollars to advertise their spot in the rankings. Smaller schools, in particular, feel the need to advertise their place in the rankings amid enrollment declines and shrinking budgets. In an interview, the executive chairman says the organization makes millions of dollars from universities looking to use the publisher’s badge as a sign of quality.
From the inside, a nonprofit news leader says the sector is several years away from its potential (Poynter)
Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project, says it will likely take decades for the nonprofit news sector to establish itself fully. She says that AJP hasn’t made a significant dent in the “news deserts” problem because these areas lack elements like local philanthropy, a substantial ad base and a sizable-enough audience to support a nonprofit news outlet. Instead, they have focused on “news voids” — pockets within larger communities that have been overlooked.
+ Related: How Alden and Gannett inadvertently provided a boost to startup local news projects (Media Nation)