Today, the News Impact Project celebrates its one-year anniversary. Thanks to this program, we’ve highlighted hundreds of news stories from our members and other local news publishers showcasing the amazing impact local news has on their communities.
Often, we think of news as covering the bad things: the tough stories, about crimes and wars and government corruption, and so on. And since launching the News Impact Project in the first month of 2020, when we were just beginning to hear about a new deadly virus on the other side of the world that was quickly spreading, there has certainly been plenty of that. But, amidst the stories of division and distress, there was something else far more compelling: optimism. Many of the stories were there because something terrible was happening, but by telling those stories, the reporters could also help make things better.
At the same time that we launched the News Impact Project to the public, we also launched our Index of Impactful News, which is an impressive list of hundreds of examples from news publishers all over the country of impactful local news stories. Many of our members sent in stories for inclusion in the Index. We featured several articles from the Index showing how newspaper reporting spurred concrete change in communities across the country. For example, one newspaper’s story helped to free wrongly convicted people from prison. Another called out law enforcement for their negligence in seeking justice for rape victims, resulting in the adoption of a new bill to help victims. And one local radio station’s segment on the affordable housing crisis in their community even resulted in a listener stepping up to buy a house for a nonprofit in need!
As the year unfolded, we developed separate Index pages for impactful stories about major events, including COVID-19 and the presidential election. While there were many stories published about the tragedies experienced from the pandemic and the political division dominating the election season, the stories featured in the Index provided important information and education to help members of communities navigate these issues safely and smartly.
There are so many incredible pieces out there, but it’s easier to find them reading a local newspaper. That’s why the Alliance has produced several tools to help our members promote the importance of supporting their publications through subscribing, donating, and telling others who will do the same. You can download our “Subscribe to Your Local Newspaper” ad to run in your print and digital publications, and use our News Impact Project Tool Kit in your meetings with community leaders and policymakers to encourage them to support subscribing to the local newspaper.
As we continue to grow the Index of Impactful News, please be sure to send us your stories to include. We have a short form here that is quick and easy to complete – you can be as detailed or as concise as you like in your response. The story doesn’t have to have won a Pulitzer, either! It can be everyday reporting that has helped members of your community be more informed and engaged about local issues of importance to residents. We hope you will share with us the positive impact you’ve had on your communities, so that we can continue to show the amazing work you do and value you provide, and why the need for high-quality local journalism is more critical than ever.
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.