The American Press Institute’s Local News Ideas-to-Action Series works with local journalists and newsrooms to develop, refine and implement ideas to support greater audience participation in shaping local government and accountability coverage. It is a three-phase effort split into opportunities to learn and get inspired; design and share early ideas for feedback; and apply for small project funds to act on a plan.
In our first phase, we highlighted examples and inspiration from Outlier Media, Documented, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Check out our recap of that discussion and additional resources ‒ including ideas from KPCC, Block Club Chicago, El Tímpano, and many others ‒ to help inspire your own reporting efforts.
As the next phase of this process, we want to provide support as you design a project that fits your community.
How this works
We’ll offer two opportunities for newsrooms to receive expert feedback on an early-stage project idea and connect with others interested in similar work.
To participate, first submit a brief description of a project idea using the form below. We’ve crafted a series of questions to help you orient your reporting idea toward a specific audience or community. Your answers don’t need to be formal or final but should serve as the basic representation of an idea your newsroom would like to pursue that can be refined and strengthened over the course of this series. We don’t expect you to spend more than an hour preparing this sketch.
The American Press Institute will offer feedback on all project ideas submitted through this form from our staff experts in audience and community engagement and accountability journalism.
At a 90-minute event on Wednesday, July 14 from 1-2:30pm ET, our three expert speakers — Jimmy Gutierrez of Outlier Media, Nicolás Ríos of Documented, and Megan Griffith-Greene of the Philadelphia Inquirer — will also offer feedback and advice on challenges and opportunities raised in the project descriptions. This event will also be an opportunity to connect with others exploring similar work.
To participate, please submit your project description using the form below by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, July 12.
Who is eligible to submit a project description?
Any local journalist or news organization is eligible to submit a project description for feedback.
When will I receive feedback?
The American Press Institute will offer feedback on your project idea no later than Thursday, July 22. The event with experts and peers will occur Wednesday, July 14 (sign up here). (Again, to participate in either, all project ideas should be submitted by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, July 12.)
What kind of feedback might I expect from API?
API helps news organizations transform for an audience-centered future. We support news organizations in relevant topics such as community listening, audience research and analytics, reader revenue, accountability journalism and change management. You can expect we’ll point to relevant examples and insights from other news organizations we’ve worked with or seen pursuing similar goals; suggestions for other resources that may help you envision and act on your project; and tips for setting goals and measuring outcomes from an experiment like this.
Is submitting a project description required for the next phase, to apply for small project funds?
No. In late July, the American Press Institute will open a competitive funding process to support proposals focused on audience- and community-driven government and accountability reporting as funds allow. More details on eligibility and funding will be posted soon (sign up here for updates), though both for-profit and nonprofit local news organizations will be eligible for these small project funds. It is not necessary to submit a project description prior to a full proposal, but it may help strengthen your project idea.
What kinds of projects are we looking to support?
This effort is focused on centering audiences and communities in new ways in local government and accountability reporting. This journalism may look different for each newsroom and each community, but we hope the following ideas may offer inspiration for your own project. This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive of other efforts to support audiences in your government and accountability reporting.
- Projects that seek to identify what local community members know, don’t know, and what they’d like to know about local government and policy and offer reporting that responds to those information needs.
- Projects that help audiences understand how local government operates, including the responsibilities, decision-making procedures, budgets and outcomes of government agencies and officials and their rights, obligations and opportunities as community members.
- Projects that help locals “navigate” interactions with public systems, like accessing unemployment benefits, making vaccine appointments or understanding issues with their utility bills.
- Projects that facilitate discussion among and between broad groups of community members about local challenges and possible solutions to those issues that can build trust, inform future coverage or expand audiences and relationships to reflect more of the community.
- Projects that offer consistent reporting on community efforts and opportunities to address local problems.