What Works: The Future of Local News

What Works: The Future of Local News

Local news, the bedrock of democracy, is in crisis. Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University's School of Journalism and veteran Boston Globe editor Ellen Clegg talk to journalists, policymakers and entrepreneurs about what's working to keep local news alive.


March 19, 2023 35 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Mark Histed, a researcher at the Democracy Policy Network. DPN is a network of policy organizers who have a simple mission: Sustaining democracy. That work takes place largely at the local level. Mark and others at DPN do research and provide deep-dive policy kits that help local citizens and legislators champion big ideas. Mark leads the Local News Dollars effort and recently wrote a report on ...

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Ellen and Dan talk with Greg Moore, former managing editor at The Boston Globe and longtime editor of The Denver Post. During his 14 years at the Post, the paper won four consecutive Pulitzer Prizes. He's led coverage of major stories, including the Aurora movie theater shooting in Colorado and the case of Charles Stuart in Boston. Greg is now editor-in-chief of the Expert Press, which helps connect specialists with me...

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February 12, 2023 35 min

Ellen and Dan talk with Victor Pickard, a professor of media policy and political economy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Before he was at Penn, he taught media studies at NYU. He is the author of "Democracy Without Journalism," among other books.

Pickard has contributed to the debate about the local news crisis in many different settings. He worked on media pol...

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January 31, 2023 49 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Anne Larner, a civic leader in Newton, Massachusetts, a city of nearly 90,000 people on the border of Boston. Anne is on the Board of Directors of The Newton Beacon, an independent nonprofit news outlet covering Newton. Anne has a long track record of civic engagement in Newton and in Massachusetts. She moved to Newton in 1973, and has served on the School Committee, the Newton League of Women V...

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January 21, 2023 43 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Adam Gaffin, founder of the Universal Hub and inventor of the French Toast Alert System). Dan wrote a profile of Adam for CommonWealth Magazine in 2008. Adam has been a local connector since the earliest days of digital self-publishing — well before blogging, putting he put together a directory of websites called New England Online in t...

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January 12, 2023 57 min

Dan and Ellen talk to Mike Blinder, the publisher of Editor & Publisher, the once and future bible of the publishing industry. Mike also hosts E&P's weekly vodcast series, "E&P Reports." Blinder has interviewed everyone from Richard Tofel, founding GM of ProPublica, to Jennifer Kho, the new executive editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, to professor and media critic...

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December 2, 2022 38 min

Ellen and Dan talk with Margaret Low, the CEO of WBUR, one of Boston's two public radio stations. Margaret started as CEO in January 2020. She has had a 40-plus-year career with NPR, and started as an overnight production assistant at Morning Edition. At NPR, Low rose through the ranks and ended up in the top editorial job...

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November 19, 2022 48 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Crystal Good, the founder of Black by God, the West Virginian. She's a sixth-generation West Virginian, and she's a storyteller and poet. She has also been a model and an advocate. She describes Black by God as an "emerging news and storytelling organization centering Black voices from the Mountain State." She wants to provide a more nuanced portrayal of Black residents in th...

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Dan and Ellen talk with Mary Margaret White, the CEO of Mississippi Today, a nonprofit digital news outlet that has been covering the state for more than six years. The staff has a robust presence at the statehouse in Jackson, and provides cultural and sports coverage, as well. 

Mary Margaret is a Mississippi native. She has a bachelor’s in English and journalis...

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November 3, 2022 41 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Nancy West, executive editor of InDepthNH.org. 

Nancy was an investigative reporter during her 30-year career at the New Hampshire Union LeaderNancy founded the nonprofit New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism in 2015. She has also taught investigative reporting at a summer program fo...

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October 27, 2022 52 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Jeff Jacoby, longtime columnist for The Boston Globe Opinion Pages. Jeff also writes the weekly "Arguable" newsletter.

Jeff holds degrees from George Washington University and from Boston University Law School, and before entering journalism, he briefly practiced law. He was also an assistant to Dr. John Silber, the prickly president of...

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October 21, 2022 25 min

Dan and Ellen talk with David Cicilline, who represents the First District of Rhode Island in Congress. Cicilline, who is a Democrat, is part of a bipartisan group of US representatives and senators sponsoring the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. Co-sponsors include Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minneso...

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October 13, 2022 50 min

Dan and Ellen talk with David Dahl, editor of The Maine Monitor.  David was most recently a deputy managing editor at The Boston Globe. Among his jobs at The Globe: directing hyperlocal Your Town coverage. The pull of Maine was strong, however. He and his wife, Kathy, have a home in Friendship, Maine. When he decided that he was ready to turn the page, he looke...

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October 6, 2022 45 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Anne Galloway, the founder and editor-at-large of VTDigger in Vermont. Like many journalists, she was laid off in 2009 from her job as Sunday editor of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. VTDigger, which is a nonprofit, started with a $16,000 budget with no employees. As she put it in a recent letter to readers, it has grown beyond her wildest dreams. 

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September 29, 2022 41 min

Dan and Ellen talk with David Greising, the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, a century-old civic nonprofit organization that is also home to a Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom as part of a new collaboration with the Illinois Solution Partnership.

The new partnership is funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The BGA separ...

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September 22, 2022 35 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Hermione Malone, vice president of strategy and startups for the American Journalism Project. The AJP describes itself as a nonprofit venture philanthropy organization that focuses on supporting the future of local news.  The AJP makes grants to nonprofit news organizations, partners with communities to launch new organizations, and coaches leaders as they grow and sustain the...

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September 15, 2022 50 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor of public policy, communication and information at UMass-Amherst. He's also founder of the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure, which is studying how to build alternatives to the commercial internet. And Ethan co-founded a local news initiative with global reach, a blogging community called Global Voices.

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September 9, 2022 34 min

Dan and Ellen talk with Terrence Williams, president and COO of The Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, one of the oldest newspapers in the country. Terry and The Keene Sentinel are the creators of the Radically Rural conference, now in its fifth year, which will be held later in September. The conference looks at issues such as housing, farming, the environ...

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Dan and Ellen dive into their reporter's notebooks, catching up with NJ Spotlight News, the Lexington Observer, the transition at The Texas Tribune, and the turmoil at the Iowa Graphic-Advocate (both of them). Dan recaps Gannett's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and Ellen has a rave for Emily Rooney's Beat The Press podcast and her interview with legendary WCVB-TV news anchor Natalie Jacobson.

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Dan and Ellen talk with Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO and co-founder of the National Trust for Local News. She is also a senior research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School in New York. At the Tow Center, Dr. Hansen Shapiro’s work focuses on the future of local journalism and the policies needed to assure that future. Her research involves audience engagemen...

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