Need to Know: October 5, 2022


You might have heard: Right-wing disinformation ramps up on WeChat ahead of midterms (NBC News)

But did you know: Digital media literacy skills are improving, but more can be done to build public resilience against disinformation (PEN America)

PEN America launched its Knowing the News media literacy project in 2020 and recently shared the findings from its assessment of the effectiveness of the workshops for minority communities. When it came to the COVID-19 vaccine, the communities interviewed reported a lack of simple, consistent information about vaccination presented in relevant languages. Due to the historical and ongoing distrust of mainstream media by minority communities, readers often turned to community and ethnic outlets they trust. But those outlets are often the least equipped to comprehensively counter misinformation due to underfunding. The findings also note that the flow of disinformation in these communities often occurs not on major social media platforms but in messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. 

PQ: “Collectively, these findings highlight the importance of trust-building within communities of color, working with and through community and faith leaders, and supporting community and ethnic media in bolstering disinformation resilience.” -PEN America impact report

+ Noted: Facebook winds down its newsletter service (The New York Times); Product chief Kat Downs Mulder leaves The Washington Post for Yahoo News (Axios); Protecting Journalists Pro Bono Program to expand following successful pilot (Knight Foundation); Resolve Philly launches new platform for practice change and professional development (Resolve Philly)


Trust Tip: Build trust by being real, right, objective and part of your community (Trusting News)

A recent research project highlights the challenges local news faces when it comes to navigating distrust. “If just one journalist from a local news source is not trusted, audiences are overwhelmingly less likely to use the source overall,” the report found. Researchers offered four categories of recommendations local newsrooms can use to build trust, which echo the framework Trusting News uses in its research and work with newsrooms. 

+ Samantha Ragland, API’s vice president of journalism programs, is featured on Lion Publishers’ News Guest podcast. Ragland and host Wendi C. Thomas discuss how independent news publishers can be better managers. (Lion Publishers)


The News & Observer to share candidate questionnaire responses with North Carolina news outlets (News & Observer)

There are 170 races for the North Carolina General Assembly this year, and Raleigh-based News & Observer plans to gather candidate information and share it freely with local publications and readers across the state. The News & Observer is a recipient of API’s Election Coverage and Community Listening Fund and is using the funding to launch Project 170. Hundreds of questionnaires have been sent out to candidates across the state, and responses will be shared and further reported on.


Taiwan local elections are where China’s disinformation strategies begin (Council on Foreign Relations)

As Taiwan gears up for its local elections in November, China will likely target the elections with disinformation in order to influence results, Ben Sando writes. China has shifted its focus from swaying Taiwan’s presidential elections to local elections due to a fragmented information space that allows China to spread conspiracy theories through communities. This approach has already been successful for China, whose social media tactics encouraged the election of a pro-China official to local office in Taiwan’s second-largest city in 2018.


Why Tom Sietsema is saying goodbye to star ratings in his restaurant reviews (The Washington Post)

Food critic Tom Sietsema has used a four-star rating system in his column since 2003 but paused this approach during the pandemic due to the struggles restaurants were acclimating to robust takeout services and navigating staffing issues. During that time, few readers have told him they want the stars back, Sietsema writes, while many more have noted that an unrated review encourages them to read more of the column. Due to this feedback and Sietsema’s reflections on ratings, he says it’s time to ditch the stars.

+ The Onion writes serious Supreme Court brief, which, of course, is also a parody (The Wrap)


Supreme Court will consider social media liability for terrorist attacks (ABA Journal)

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to hear two cases that explore whether social media companies are liable for content that builds support for terrorist groups and relays terrorist propaganda. In Gonzalez v. Google, the Court will consider whether social media companies are responsible for third-party content recommended to users via automated algorithms. And Twitter v. Taamneh raises the issue of whether social media companies are liable for aiding and abetting terrorist attacks by failing to remove content that led to the rise of the Islamic State group. 


New York Daily News plots local comeback (Axios)

Once one of the most powerful tabloids in the country and one of the largest newspapers by circulation, the New York Daily News is shifting its coverage towards local content about issues impacting New York City. Following financial troubles and its acquisition by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, the paper’s leadership plans to use money saved by the outsourcing of production to put more reporters on the streets and expand its print edition by 16 percent by adding more local news content.