We had some big news last week: we got a grant that puts us on more stable financial footing for the moment. We want to use this opportunity to expand our coverage, and we’re hoping you’ll help us decide what new area to expand into.
We’re among 57 news organisations across Europe who’ve been awarded grants from the European Journalism Covid-19 Support Fund – in our case, €25,000. We are super grateful for the support. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
The money helps fill some gaps we had coming up in our budget. But we don’t just want to breathe a sigh of relief and keep doing what we’re doing – we want to take this as an opportunity to grow a bit now from this slightly more stable foundation.
With the way the world’s going just now, we’re not so confident that we’re going to add a new permanent staffer to our team, but what we are going to do is devote a significant (for our little organisation) freelance budget to the coverage of a new “beat”.
At the moment, if you have a look through the paper, you’ll hopefully be able to see evidence that we are trying to concentrate our efforts on reporting on a few different beats: Dublin City Council, housing and homelessness, transport, planning, the environment, jobs and working life, tech and the city, and the media.
There’s so much more we’d like to do. But rather than just choosing a new area to expand into ourselves, we want to hear from you what new subject or geographic area (in Co. Dublin) you’d like us to focus on going forward and have someone write about in each week’s edition.
If you could take a minute to fill out this short survey letting us know what you’d like us to do, we’d be really grateful. For those willing, we’d love it too if you’d drop in to one of several online “town hall” meetings – details in the survey – to talk about which beat you’d choose and why.
While we’re only picking one new beat here, even if your first choice isn’t the winner, don’t despair. We’re also looking at this as a broader consultation with our readers about what you want from our coverage, and we’ll take your ideas into account as part of that.
To make sure we can keep the new beat funded going forward, even after the grant runs out, we’re also banking on more readers like you subscribing to support this and our continued work across all our existing beats.
Some Ideas for New Beats
Within the newsroom, we’ve a few ideas ourselves for beats that we’ve been unable to dig into as much as we’d like, or that have petered out – and that we think would be worth getting properly stuck into. Here are a few suggestions from us, then, to get things rolling.
Policing and Community Safety
We’re not talking about daily crime or courts reports. Rather, we’d aim for reporting that looks more deeply into community safety across the city, covering the local-level joint policing committees and local policing fora, exploring pilot projects and possible solutions to challenges in different neighbourhoods, and keeping a closer eye on the government bodies responsible for making sure those in the city are safe.
Past stories along these lines: why some have pressed for community courts, whether the system of local engagement on policing issues has broken down, or a closer look at An Garda Síochána’s responses to hate crimes.
Food, Writ Large
Sure, it’s fun to bring our readers tales of new restaurant and bar openings, or delivery services. But there’s a lot more to food that a reporter on a dedicated food beat might be able to dig into – from where the food we eat in Dublin is grown and who grows it, to how it’s brought here and sold to us, to profiles of cooks and chefs, to social history, science and sustainability.
We’d see this as building on our past food coverage, which has meandered from stories about Dublin’s Italian chippers and why you might find ice cream there too, about Chinatown’s hidden menus, or about a researcher’s experimentation with insect flour.
Immigration, Race and Identity
Many people in the city live under different rules to Irish citizens, navigating challenges and hurdles as they try to work, live, and play. This beat would focus on the ever-evolving immigration system, and how it impacts people who live in Dublin. It could also delve into the immigrant experience here, finding stories not just in the present but in the long history of immigration.
We’ve dipped into this from time to time. In stories, for example, about the difficulties that partners of those on Stamp 3 visas had accessing work once here, or about flaws in the system for booking appointments at Burgh Quay.
Coverage of Other Dublin Councils
At the moment, we mainly cover the goings-on within the Dublin City Council area because we’re a very small team. We fear spreading ourselves too thin, particularly when there are still neighbourhoods within the city that we’re conscious we could cover better.
Yet, some issues are regional and we know many of our readers live outside the city. Perhaps, there are readers out there who want us to cover meetings at Fingal County Council, or South Dublin County Council, or Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council – with write-ups and briefs from one of those. That’s another option to consider.
Is Covid-19 here to stay and do we need a health beat that covers the issue in a way different to what other media are already doing, somehow? Or, perhaps, it’s time to step into reporting on education in a consistent way? If you’ve other ideas for beats, please do suggest them. We’ll do our best to add them promptly as options on the survey.