Social media polarizes us. Political propaganda deluges us. And misinformation and disinformation seem to spread as quickly as COVID-19. So where can we go to find stories, analysis, and messengers we can trust? Scholars say that high-quality, fact-based local news organizations—based in our own communities and staffed by diverse and responsible journalists who are also our neighbors—can inoculate us against the toxicity that inundates us via screen, airwave, and print. But such local media are dying; more than a quarter of the country’s newspapers have closed in this century, and thousands of communities no longer have their own news outlets. So how can local, community-based information messengers be made viable again—and how do we know that they are committed to being part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem? What strategies and institutions are already working to restore the trust in information, and in one another, that provides the foundation of a healthy civil society?
American Journalism Project chief executive Sarabeth Berman, Voice Media Ventures founder and Black Voice News publisher Paulette Brown-Hinds, and UC Berkeley law professor and former Federal Election Commission chair Ann Ravel visit Zócalo to explore how local media might help bring Americans together.