Steven Waldman, described as "a serial news entrepreneur," made the proposal at a conference sponsored by journalism organizations that is taking place in Newark, N.J., Monday and Tuesday. Speakers at a town hall meeting Monday night made it clear that poor or nonexistent local news coverage can harm a community's image of itself and lead to uninformed choices.
A survey of adults who work with children showed this month that news reporting on black, Latino and Arab boys and men of color reinforces negative narratives about them. Asked to comment, Mike Fancher of the American Society of News Editors told Journal-isms then that "news organizations increasingly are using community-based engagement to improve the situation."
The Engage Local conference, sponsored by the American Society of News Editors, the American Press Institute, the McCormick Foundation, the News Literacy Project and Montclair State University, is the first such collective effort.
About 400 community residents gathered in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for a town hall discussion titled "Renaissance or Gentrification: How do we discuss redevelopment in Newark?"
They were welcomed by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who invoked the days of muckrakers exposing sweatshop conditions and publisher Ida B. Wells-Barnett's crusades against lynching.
However, he said that today, when "the real story is how do we advance humanity," the media aren't doing their jobs "if all the things we hear about is violence and depression."
It was a message that was to be repeated — even by some in the media — as the city contemplates becoming the next prime target for downtown developers and neighborhoods wonder what's in it for them.
Dale Russakoff, a former Washington Post reporter who is author of the forthcoming book "The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools," cited stories in Politico Magazine ("Is Newark the Next Brooklyn?") on NPR ("In Newark, Reversing 40 Years Of Neighborhood Neglect?") and in Bloomberg News, as providing a perspective on Newark that she hadn't seen in the local press.
"Now you have the traditional media saying, 'we sort of missed this,' " said Derek Ware, publisher of GlocallyNewark.com.
Ware and Akintola Hanif, photojournalist, filmmaker and founder of Hycide magazine, another local product, represented what many believe to be the future — hyperlocal publications that fill the void left by the mainstream. The Star-Ledger, the city's dominant newspaper, announced last July it is moving its offices out of Newark, and the city is served by television network affiliates based across the Hudson River in New York. No one from those mainstream organizations spoke at the town hall meeting.
"We've gotten more favorable media nationally than locally," Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson, who is also director of economic and housing development, told the group.
"The local story isn't a positive story. Why can't we find a more nuanced story about what's happening? Because there really is no strong media infrastructure in Newark, those stories aren't being told." Residents who hear positive news about what others are doing are inspired and can make better choices, especially, as audience members said, while residents seek government action on the large amount of foreclosed housing and relief from mortgages that went underwater during the recession."
Terminology also plays a role. Can black middle class people also be "gentry"? Are words like "pioneer" or "frontier" appropriate when people are already there?
Ware added, "We got displaced because we heard the stories about us being so valueless that we don't see that we were a diamond in the rough. If Newarkers only hear negative stories, they look at their areas as negative."
That's where Waldman's proposal comes in. In 2011, he was lead author of the Federal Communications Commission's report on Information Needs of Communities.
His new report begins, "Innovation has rippled through the news media since the digital revolution first started smashing traditional economic models. We’ve seen new players, like BuzzFeed, [Huffington Post] and Vice, devote significant resources to meaty reporting. We've seen legacy media organizations like The New York Times make breathtaking use of new digital storytelling tools. We've seen digital-native nonprofit startups, such as [ProPublica] and the Marshall Project, making rapid and significant impact.
"But one area has remained stubbornly stuck: labor-intensive local journalism. The core economic problem on the local level is stunningly simple: ad-based business models do not generate enough revenue to pay enough reporters enough money to do enough reporting. The issue is not words produced per writer (that's probably never been higher) but hours of reporting spent per story.
"This paper suggests that the time has come for a dramatic new approach, focused squarely on the supply of journalistic labor. I attempt to draw lessons from a world not usually thought relevant to journalism: the impressive movement of national and community service programs that has developed in the last three decades.
"We propose a program that could more efficiently deploy philanthropic resources into the most needed gaps in the media, while instilling a new sense of idealism into community- based coverage. It is time to Report for America. . . ."
The conference continues on Tuesday.
Kathryn Brenzel, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com: Ready to move? Why Newark — yes, Newark — might be N.J.'s next hot neighborhood (April 22)
Barry Carter, Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.: Columns
Peter Greene, Huffington Post: Who's Listening in Newark? (May 19)
"Johnson Publishing named Kierna Mayo as editor-in-chief of its monthly magazine Ebony and Kyra Kyles as its new head of digital editorial, promoting two employees to fill a gap left after exits since 2014," Lynne Marek reported Monday for Crain's Chicago Business.
"Johnson Publishing has been trying to steady itself amid financial challenges and editorial exits.
"Former Ebony Editor Mitzi Miller, who also was editor of the company's weekly Jet magazine, exited abruptly in February months after her predecessor, Amy DuBois Barnett, left in 2014. The private company has been navigating efforts to boost profits, including the end of print production for Jet magazine and the proposed sale of its historic photo archive.
"Mayo, 45, will work out of the company's New York office. She was hired at the magazine in 2011 as its editorial director and has been leading the magazine since Miller's departure. The publication has produced three issues under her leadership, including covers that featured hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, talk show host Wendy Williams and, for its current issue, singer Beyonce Knowles' mother, Tina Knowles Lawson.
"Mayo, who was a co-creator and founding editor-in-chief of Honey magazine, says she aims to revive a 'maverick spirit' at Ebony that the magazine had in the 20th century, using a probing and provocative approach that tackles topics from celebrities to race relations. She also has written for Essence, Vibe and Marie Claire magazines, among other publications, the company said in a statement.
"Kyles, 39, joined Johnson Publishing in 2011 also as a senior editor for Jet and most recently was the editorial director of that publication. In the past, she had produced a pop culture column called the 'Kyles Files,' which had a weekly broadcast segment on WGN-TV. . . ."
Ebony's editors have traditionally worked out of Johnson Publishing Co.'s Chicago headquarters. CEO Desiree Rogers told Journal-isms by email, "There is staff in both NYC and Chicago across print and digital. We are delighted to have staff split across both cities. We went with the best candidate. I don't know if it is the first time" that the top editor was based outside Chicago.
"Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter president accused of pretending to be black, tells TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive live interview that she identifies as black — something she started doing at the age of five," Eun Kyung Kim reported Tuesday for NBC's "Today" Show.
'" 'I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and black curly hair,' she told Lauer. But she insisted she never deceived anyone as numerous critics have suggested.
" 'I do take exception to that because it's a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of, are you black or white?' she said.
"But given the fallout she has experienced since the controversy erupted last week, Dolezal said she would make the same choices if she had the chance.
" 'As much as this discussion has somewhat been at my expense recently and in a very sort of viciously inhumane way come out of the woodwork, the discussion is really about what it is to be human,' she said. 'I hope that that can drive at the core of definitions of race, ethnicity, culture, self determination, personal agency and, ultimately, empowerment.' . . ."
Following the live, in-studio interview with Lauer on "Today," Dolezal was to sit down for separate interviews with Savannah Guthrie for NBC Nightly News, Melissa Harris-Perry for MSNBC, and NBCBLK, NBCNews.com's African-American vertical. . . ."
Dolezal resigned her post Monday in a letter but had otherwise has been silent since a newspaper wrote about her racial identity last week, Lisa De Moraes wrote Monday for "Deadline: Hollywood."
Luvvie Ajayi, Awesomely Luvvie blog: About Rachel Dolezal the Undercover Sista and Performing Blackness
Kara Brown, Jezebel: Rachel Dolezal Definitely Nailed The Hair, I'll Give Her That
Jelani Cobb, the New Yorker: Black Like Her
Coeur D'Aline Press: Report: Dolezal no longer employed by EWU
Jenée Desmond-Harris, vox.com: How to make sense of Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP official accused of passing for black
Maureen Dolan and Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press: Dolezal story takes a turn
Charles D. Ellison, The Root: Rachel Dolezal's Imitation Game: Why Couldn't She Struggle and Be White?
Eli Francovich, Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash. Rachel Dolezal resigns as president of Spokane NAACP
Michael P. Jeffries, Boston Globe: Rachel Dolezal a lesson in how racism works
Shawntelle Moncy, the Easterner, Eastern Washington University A Life to be Heard (Feb. 5)