Journalism is on the decline. I’m not just talking about the incredibly low public trust in journalism. Or the outbreak of fake news that is undermining governance. I’m simply talking about the business model of journalism, particularly local news. Somerville, for example, used to have two modest newspapers, Somerville Times and Somerville Journal. Now, the former is barely operational and latter is mostly Gatehouse Media clickbait. There’s little actual reporting going on.
Today, I supported an interesting project on Kickstarter, ambitiously called A solution to the local news crisis. The idea is to create “community information districts” akin to public utilities. Communities would create an information district by passing an ordinance to assess a small fee on residents; those fees would support a public service to provide news and information. The idea is to support local communities that want to publicly fund and cooperatively design news and information services that are accountable to them.