Shifting Practices for a Stronger Tomorrow: Local Journalism in the Pacific Northwest

In late 2017 the Agora Journalism Center published a study exploring the state of local journalism in the Pacific Northwest. Authored by Damian Radcliffe, the lead researcher of this new paper, it explored the journalistic mission and changing practices at 10 newsrooms in the region.

The report found that – despite a challenging financial backdrop – newsrooms were actively embracing concepts of engaged journalism, new revenue models, as well as the storytelling opportunities afforded by digital platforms. The tone was one of cautious optimism.

Given the pace of change across the media landscape, coupled with increasing levels of interest in the health of local journalism across the United States, we felt that it was important to revisit this arena and update this story.

We also recognized that there was considerable value in bringing together a community of practice, and indeed that this is an important function for public institutions – like the University of Oregon – to fulfill.

With that in mind, in March 2019, the Agora Center hosted a one day workshop for 28 news organizations from across Oregon and Washington (including one covering the wider Western United States). Split into three groups, attendees dived into the topics first explore in 2017: business and revenue models, changing journalistic practice and the practice of engagement.

The fruits of these updated discussions will be represented in a series of White Papers authored by Damian and some of the graduate and undergraduate students who were involved in the day. They will be published over the course of the next few months.

For the Agora Center, driven by our mission to drive transformational advancements in journalism and communication to enhance public knowledge, and to enrich civic life for all community members, understanding this landscape matters, because understanding – and facilitating – healthy democratic communities is at the heart of our work.

In this report, you will be able to read how newsrooms are adapting to address the realities of the journalism industry in 2019. Their experiences, and the solutions they are deploying, are not unique to the Pacific Northwest. We hope that news organizations in the United States and beyond will benefit from these insights.

We look forward to your thoughts on the ideas outlined in this report.

— Regina G. Lawrence, Executive Director, Agora Journalism Center
— Andrew DeVigal, Associate Director, Agora Journalism Center