Josh Stearns

On the latest “What Works” podcast, I talk with Josh Stearns, the senior director of the Public Square Program at Democracy Fund.

The Democracy Fund is an independent foundation that works for something very basic and increasingly important: to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges. Josh leads the foundation’s work in rebuilding local news. The Democracy Fund supports media leaders, defends press freedom, and holds social media platforms accountable. (Ellen Clegg was stuck in traffic somewhere on the Zakim Bridge in Boston for the duration of this show, but she’ll return for the next episode!)

In our Quick Takes, I poach on Ellen’s territory and reports on a development in Iowa, the Hawkeye State. When two local weekly newspapers near Iowa City recently got into trouble, their owner found an unusual buyer: The Daily Iowan, the independent nonprofit student newspaper. Now there are plans to supplement local coverage with contributions from student journalists.

It’s not something I’d like to see everywhere — after all, we want to make sure there are jobs for student journalists after they graduate. But at least in this case, it sounds like the Iowa solution is going to be good for the weekly papers, good for the students and good for the communities they serve.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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