15 ways to support local journalism now

By Joe Coffey| The Fifth Estate

News that the Gannett-owned Iowa City Press-Citizen will no longer be managed locally is worth your consideration as a member of the business community.

You shop local when you can. You support local causes. You rally around local business needs. You should care that local news needs you right now.

P-C editor Tory Brecht has been laid off. That means that a Des Moines Register editor will now be making the editorial calls for a news operation here in the Corridor. As the last daily newspaper in Iowa City (not counting the University of Iowa’s student-run Daily Iowan), the Press-Citizen will continue with an editorial staff of just four reporters and a photographer. You have to go all the way back to the 1850s to find the last moment when Iowa City didn’t have a locally managed daily.

It’s time to rally around local news. The best way to do this is to engage with the products and business services they provide. Here are 15 things you can do to support local journalism now:

1. Consume local media – Watch the news. Read print copies of the local papers you come across at work, in waiting rooms, etc. and pass them along.

2. Subscribe – Pay to receive the CBJ, The Gazette, the Press-Citizen and other Corridor news sources delivered/mailed to your house and your place of work.

3. E-subscribe – Sign up for relevant e-newsletters. The CBJ’s Morning Rush and Business Daily newsletters, for example, deliver business scoops regularly.

4. Place ads – People who care about their communities consume local media. They see who is advertising. They are proactive with their support. Participate in this important cycle of local information and commerce.

5. Advertise in other ways – Chances are, you aren’t aware of all the creative and effective ways to get your business in front local media consumers. Call to learn more.

6. Follow online – Make the effort to like/follow local media organizations on Facebook and Twitter. Even better, go to their homepages on Facebook and click “see first” under the “follow” button. This action ensures their content will be in your newsfeed.

7. Share – This goes a long way in the electronic media world. Don’t just “like” the social link to stories you find interesting or important – share and comment on them.

8. Follow journalists – Local reporters have social media accounts. You’d be surprised how insightful and entertaining their posts can be.

9. Get in the news – If you think there is something interesting, especially good or even troubling about your business or industry, reach out. Call the news desk. Share a press release. Send an email. Give a reporter a tip, or send an anonymous letter if you think that’s best. Local reporters will do everything in their power to bring an important story to the public when they have the help of sources. (They won’t burn you, either.)

10. Participate – Local media companies host events, get involved with local causes and experiment with content in new formats all the time. You can nominate colleagues and businesses for awards. Take their surveys, and give their new media products a try.

11. Write – Your opinions, expertise in your field and concerns as a member of the business community matter. Send a “letter to the editor” email. Write an op-ed on behalf of your company, affinity group or industry.

12. Give feedback – Hit up that reporter or columnist who wrote the piece you love or hate. Criticize coverage that got it wrong. Give kudos for getting it right. Local journalists and news managers care about what you think and really do want to hear from you.

13. Teach your children – Get involved in the long game. Share clippings and links to local media stories with your kids. Let ‘em stay up for the 10 p.m. newscast. Get them into the habit of being well-informed via local news.

14. Be a voice for local media – Let your marketing department know they should be advertising locally. Let your boss know the breakroom needs a subscription. Let a company know their local ad is what motivated you to do business with them.

15. Explore life with local media – Don’t forget about the important role local media play when it comes to lifestyle. Keep an eye out for entertainment recommendations and book reviews. Try the recipes in the Sunday paper. Read reviews of local performances. When that heartwarming story about a local do-gooder gives you the feels, seek that person out on social media and let them know you read/saw the story and appreciate them. •

Joe Coffey has 20 years of experience as a journalist, educator and marketer in the Corridor.