Reveal’s Local Labs initiative aims to create lasting investigative reporting collaborations across the country.
Local news outlets are best positioned to answer their communities’ most pressing investigative questions and hold officials accountable with true public service journalism. But local news, which is consistently one of the most trusted sources of news, is under siege from budget cuts, significant job losses and evolving user habits. Time- and resource-intensive investigative reporting can be especially difficult in this environment. That’s why we launched Reveal Local Labs last year to help foster lasting, sustainable investigative collaborations across the country.
We have three goals:
- Deliver high-impact investigative reporting.
- Develop an enduring spirit of collaboration among local newsrooms.
- Engage community stakeholders from the outset to ensure the journalism being produced addresses local information needs.
Reveal supports our Local Labs partners by providing project management, training (data, audio, fundraising, etc.), editorial guidance, support for accessing and analyzing data and other information (through FOIAs, records requests), small reporting stipends as needed, mentorship, and much more. The resulting investigations are featured on Reveal’s national radio show and podcast, which airs on more than 470 stations around the country and reaches more than a million listeners every week.
As part of our Local Labs work, we also help news outlets engage with their communities to understand the information needs of those most affected. We want to ensure the journalism we are producing is for and supported by communities and provides a holistic, nuanced view of the issue in order to effect change.
RECENT LOCAL LABS
We’ve already launched Local Labs collaborations in several areas – New Orleans, Louisiana; San Jose, California; and New Jersey.
The collaboration in San Jose brought together six partners who had never worked together – NBC Bay Area, Telemundo Area de la Bahia, KQED Public Radio, The Mercury News, Renaissance Journalism and Big Local. The team spent nearly a year examining half a million property records to understand “Who Owns Silicon Valley?” The series not only creates the definitive list of the top landowners in the region, but also investigates their contribution to the housing problem and their responsibility for addressing it. A week after our collaborative started publishing its work, Apple pledged an unprecedented $2.5 billion to combat the housing crisis.
In New Orleans, we brought together three news outlets – Fox 8 WVUE, WWNO New Orleans Public Radio and NOLA.com/The Times Picayune – for a six-month-long investigation into Louisiana’s state-funded school voucher program. We found the $40 million program placed many students into low-performing private schools with little state oversight. The series, called “The Cost of Choice,” was published in May across all the outlets and included a searchable school ratings tool. We are working with organizations on the ground to distribute the tool and its information to the most affected communities. The story was also featured in an episode of the Reveal radio show and podcast in August.
The collaboration “Slammed: Rural Health Care and COVID-19” brought together media outlets in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Iowa, and Indiana to report on how already challenged rural health care systems are coping with COVID-19.
More of our work
One important goal we have for Local Labs is to personalize our approach so that it best fits the story, the news organizations and the stories we’re working on.
As part of that process, our work in New Jersey is focused on helping partners localize national stories, particularly through the Reveal Reporting Networks and by engaging local communities.
And we’re launching two more Local Labs: One in Appalachia featuring 100 Days in Appalachia, PublicSource in Pittsburgh and West Virginia Public Broadcasting. And another one in Akron, Ohio, with The Devil Strip, WKSU Public Radio, WEWS, The Akron Beacon Journal and Your Voice Ohio.