Urban Journalism Institute
Municipal Times Journal


Urban journalism tells stories that are relevant to city dwellers, focusing on topics such as transportation, housing, infrastructure, politics, and safety. Many actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) take place in urban environments – after all, OECD estimated that 65% of the 169 targets underlying the 17 SDGs would not be reached without proper engagement of and coordination with local and regional governments. However, too often, local actions do not get the attention they deserve. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) knows better than most that mayors and municipal officers are the ones implementing international sustainability goals into practice, but their stories do not get a lot of attention in mainstream media. This is where urban journalism comes in.  

What similar challenges do the mayors of Buenos Aires in Argentina and Chefchaouen in Morocco face regarding the global commons? What does Lampedusa in Italy have in common with Tijuana in Mexico? And why should every city have a story about green infrastructure? At the Urban Journalism Academy, organised by the Urban Journalism Institute in collaboration with UCLG and with the support of Cities Alliance and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions on 13 June 2023, a diverse group of journalists, media professionals, communications officers, mayors, and representatives local and regional governments learned about the importance of urban journalism, which can answer precisely this kind of question. By showcasing challenges and solutions from cities all over the world, this particular kind of journalism focuses on the local while having a global impact. It is a way of getting out of local and topical silos, of bridging agendas with stories, and of giving a voice to local governments. When reading the Municipal Times, you are holding a piece of urban journalism in your hands. 

Participants agreed that urban journalists care about cities, and they care about the future. In a series of engaging workshops, the Academy trained journalists on how to tell the story of the commons, how to unpack the SDG agenda and the UCLG Pact for the Future of Humanity, and how to involve municipalities in journalism while meeting their needs. As Greg Munro, the Director of the Cities Alliance explained: “When we put local government and responsible journalism together, we get an incredibly powerful tool for change.”  

Urban journalism is fact-based, relevant, and inspiring. Discussions during the Urban Journalism Academy focused on ways to tell positive stories that still catch attention. Rather than reporting on depressing and scary stories, urban journalists emphasize the countless solutions that inspire hope. They aim to change the narrative through passionate and accessible language, creating positive change, and sharing impactful solutions that can be applied and adapted to different contexts. Emilia Sáiz, UCLG’s secretary general, pointed out that the local perspective is based on the ambitions and dreams of individual people. “With urban journalism, we can develop a healthy relationship and a sound understanding of the true agenda of cities and work on the perception of local governments. Local governments and journalists share a responsibility.” 

The Urban Journalism Institute will organise more Urban Journalism Academies in the future – stay in touch!