IPI Releases Local Media Survival Guide 2022

Barbara Trionfi
Executive Director, IPI

The Vienna, Austria-based International Press Institute (IPI) has released the 2022 Local Media Survival Guide on how journalism is innovating to find sustainable ways to serve local communities around the world and fight against misinformation.

The guide is a real-time qualitative report based on in-depth discussions with more than 35 journalists, editors, media leaders, and entrepreneurs who are transitioning legacy media and creating new local-media voices in the emerging and developing regions of Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, together with readings of their comments and self-reflections in blogs, speeches, and articles.

All over the world, journalists, editors, and publishers are working to build a dynamic, responsible media that engages their communities in news and information that meet their local needs and wants.

The media they are creating leverage the trust of localism to empower people within communities to tell their stories to one another, to give a voice to the rights of their community, and to fight the spread of mis- and disinformation.

Among practical actions, the report suggests creation of a global network for local news media and a fund with external funding to support local media in need of training and innovation. It also stresses the need for local media to have links with fact-checking organisations to build capacity to fight misinformation.

According to report, “Local communities often lack the resources to support their own local media. Information pollution has generated distrust of all journalism. There’s a growing authoritarianism bringing deliberate strategies of media capture. And in some countries, digital opportunities are constrained by potential readers’ lack of access to mobile data or stable web connectivity.”

“Media capture and other forms of repression by authoritarian regimes pose an increasing challenge to local news media that are perceived as a threat due either to their accountability journalism or simply to their providing an autonomous voice. Pressure can come through blocking advertising revenues from state or oligarchic-owned corporations and pressuring other businesses to do the same; through legal actions such as defamation or tax audits; or through targeted attacks on media institutions and independent journalists.”

The report lists five actions it says are needed as follows:

  • Embed a vision and sense of mission that matches audience/community needs with an appropriate journalism focus;
  • Level up access to the information, training, network support, and funding essential to building sustainable local media;
  • Create a global network that prepares local news media to take on the challenges; that allows them to share, understand, and learn from one another’s steps and stumbles; and that gives them access to expertise, mentoring, and community support;
  • Ensure that donors and the media support community (particularly in developing countries and regions) understand that the future is local; and
  • Leverage the relationship of local trust to rebuild confidence in news media and lead the fight against misinformation and disinformation.

The report is meant to share the experiences and lessons of local media practitioners globally, and to build a community for networking and support. It’s about telling their story in their own voice – and helping all involved learn from one another.