Last month, 100 publishers, editors, broadcasters, executives, academics, technologists and funders convened at the inaugural Accelerate: Local News Summit in Denver, Colorado, to address some of the challenges facing local news.
Today, Knight Foundation, ONA and Facebook published “Insights From The Accelerate: Local News Summit,” a three-page synthesis of presentation, discussion, discovery and commitments from the event.
The Summit, sponsored by The Knight Foundation, the Online News Association, and Facebook, was designed for local news leaders to gain insights on the larger trends affecting the industry, share new approaches to business challenges, and participate in in-depth collaborative sessions structured to identify both the pain points and the solutions applicable to various newsroom challenges.
In addition to context-setting and best-practice oriented presentations, participants collaborated in breakout groups organized around broad themes. These sessions included subject-matter expert led discussion, and facilitated small- group exercises, resulting in individual commitments to implement what they learned. Though the Summit was conducted under the Chatham House Rules, participants were free to share information with mutual agreement.
Five key areas of opportunity surfaced throughout the two-day convening:
- New Business Models: The loss of traditional revenue sources has created an imperative to put high-quality journalism at the center of an increasingly diversified business model that may include subscription, membership, and events.
- Collaboration: Increasingly, publishers who have historically viewed one another as competitors are turning to collaboration to bolster their bottom line. Beyond just trading resources transactionally, collaborators have to work together to create a more powerful way to inform and engage audiences, and drive a result that is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Community Engagement: In an effort to build trust and increase audience share, many publishers are re-orienting their newsrooms around the communities they serve, moving from simply reporting on, to reporting for and with.
- Digital Transformation: While digital transformation is often associated with technology, it is driven by a culture of change. Putting process and people before product speeds newsroom change.
- Talent & Recruitment: Identifying, recruiting and retaining a diverse talent pool has only become more challenging by increasingly limited resources. A clear value proposition can make newsrooms more attractive to new talent — and to retaining those already on staff.
Though participants could not solve all of the challenges facing local news in 48 hours, many emerged energized and empowered by the additional support. Prior to the Summit’s conclusion, Facebook’s director of new initiatives, news partnerships, Anne Kornblut, and local news partnerships lead Josh Mabry announced the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, a new local news grant-making and network-building initiative in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Open call for applications begins May 13th. Details can be found at facebookjournalismproject.com.
“My notebook is full of ideas and actionable things I can do,” one participant commented. “This crash course on challenges, opportunities, and who’s doing what in the space [was] very helpful.”
For the full report, please visit acceleratesummit.org.