Jane Elizabeth

Jane Elizabeth, a media consultant, is the former managing editor of The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun in North Carolina. She has been an editor and manager in newsrooms including The Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Virginian-Pilot; and is the American Press Institute’s former director of accountability journalism. Jane holds a master’s degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University, and was a 2017 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She currently serves on advisory boards for Radford University and the Freedom Forum Institute’s Power Shift Project. Reach her at jane@janeelizabeth.net.

Journalism managers are burned out. Is it time for a work redesign?

The lone editor at a small newsroom owned by a large corporation was overwhelmed, once again. A few big stories had consumed his entire staff of nine reporters — most of whom were newly hired and inexperienced. As he tried furiously to edit, coach and organize, he also was fielding phone calls, emails and Slack […]

Challenge No. 7: Taking journalists’ stress and mental health seriously

Journalism is an economically precarious profession particularly for local media organizations, and that fact alone is stressful enough. Add unpredictable work hours, lack of resources, and a lethal worldwide pandemic, and we’ve got a crisis on our hands. Or do we? If a thousand trees fall in the forest and no one acknowledges it — […]

Challenge No. 6: Boosting your diminished staff and content

In April, The Washington Post made an unusual request to local journalists across America: Contribute freelance articles to a special Washington Post Magazine issue designed to “show what the American public misses when thousands of stories are not told.” This fall, those stories will fill an entire issue showcasing local issues that have been underreported […]

Challenge No. 5: Producing the investigative work that people want to read

On February 13, the Charleston Post & Courier published an investigative project that examined what happens to South Carolina communities where no viable local media still exist. Not coincidentally, the next day the paper announced a fund drive to raise $100,000 in 100 days to help pay for their own investigative journalism, which, as Executive […]

Challenge No. 4: Rethinking beats, retraining reporters

For many local newsrooms across the country, it took a global pandemic to demonstrate how quickly and successfully newsroom leaders could restructure their coverage to truly meet readers’ needs. Reporters were reassigned to urgent topics of the moment: health and the medical community, racial justice and disparity, unemployment and business. Two young reporters at the […]

Challenge No. 3: Fighting a real fight against misinformation

Although not always the originator of misinformation, social media communities are an amplifier for conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns — and they’re also victims of those lies. The misinformation surrounding COVID-19, vaccines, Black Lives Matter protests and other major news events have demonstrated that “fake news” in your Facebook feed and your Nextdoor group isn’t […]

Challenge No. 2: Making diversity, equity and inclusion more than theoretical

The critical issue of diversity in local newsrooms and in community coverage was never more apparent than during the national racial reckoning of 2020. Now it’s up to those news organizations to make real and permanent improvements. Those actions also represent an urgent business imperative. As the demographics of the country change, a failure to […]

Challenge No. 1: Keeping those new ‘Covid readers’

News organizations often get an “audience bump” during major breaking news, but the COVID-19 pandemic offered something unique: a prolonged news event that had readers eager to read every word, every story, and actually become engaged with the content and the publisher. Here was a once-in-a-lifetime story that is important to every human on the […]

How local news organizations are taking steps to recover from a year of trauma

More than a year after the global pandemic became official, local journalism still grapples with the fallout — not only from the coronavirus but also by an intense nationwide racial reckoning, regional disasters including fires and storms, and ever-present gun violence and mass shootings. The flood of news events over the past year also exacerbated […]

7 questions to help local media rebound in 2021

Worldwide, the lives of most journalists have been consumed over the past 12 months by cataclysmic events both anticipated and unexpected. But no media organization has been battered more than the local newsroom. Journalists in America’s towns and small cities were the first responders to massive COVID-19 outbreaks, police shootings, protests, violent demonstrations, fractious political […]