Charlottesville Tomorrow Editor-in-Chief Angilee Shah gave a keynote address with Sisi Wei, recently named editor-in-chief of The Markup, at a national conference for news publishers and executives.
Wei and Shah started their remarks with a simple question: “What are we unlearning in journalism?”
“One of the things I’ve had to shed comes from my personal background,” said Shah. “I have really — even while I was in national media — shed the idea that success is national media.”
In her work, she has tried to reframe success as service.
“Did the communities we serve confer upon us that ability to lead? Did the communities we serve give us that success?” Shah said.
About 500 news executives, entrepreneurs and journalists gathered for the three-day 2022 Independent News Sustainability Summit (INSS) in Austin, Texas at the end of October. The conference was hosted by LION (Local Independent Online News) Publishers, News Revenue Hub and RevLab at The Texas Tribune, and focused on meeting challenges in the news ecosystem, finding financial stability and making an impact for communities that need information.
Charlottesville Tomorrow executive director Giles Morris also presented during the conference on how to build news organizations that diverse communities can trust. He joined leaders from Shasta Scout and Richland Source in a candid conversation about impact and doing good journalism in communities that have faced polarizing challenges.
“When communities face traumatic events, they don’t break in half along some imaginary line. They shatter,” Morris said. “Building trust and growing a circle of readers with a shared framework for local truth is the way local news organizations can help put the pieces back together.”
That kind of work takes motivated, mission-driven people. Wei and Shah talked about the importance of rest for healthy newsroom environments and the need for an industry that supports and does not under-invest in the work of journalists. They talked about leadership in newsrooms and strategies for building cultures and communicating well.
RevLab wrote about the keynote, and what it takes to do good work in journalism. Wei stressed the importance of management skills, and learning those skills from other industries. Investment in newsrooms — in culture, in funding — is also crucial, both Shah and Wei said.
For Shah, one of the most important things the news industry can do to bolster locally-based and locally-owned news is to join organizations doing the work on the ground.
“If you want to get involved in local news, get involved in local news. Apply for a job in a local newsroom,” said Shah. “Get into the local news economy, help grow it, help grow the capacity.”
The opening keynote was delivered by Dean Baquet, the former executive editor of The New York Times. He discussed his new program at the Times to hire fellows in investigative journalism from around the country.