Need to Know: October 3, 2022


You might have heard: The Tampa Bay Times’ newsroom was empty but its coverage was comprehensive (Tampa Bay Times)

But did you know: Plenty of local reporters stayed behind to document the storm (Poynter)

As people throughout Florida evacuated their homes as Hurricane Ian approached, local reporters stayed behind or headed to neighboring newsrooms to document the storm. News outlets near where the hurricane made landfall helped show the world the first images of Ian’s destruction. Others ventured out to interview locals affected by the storm and offered help when they could. Reporting out of such hard-hit areas comes with the logistical difficulties of finding reliable internet and evacuating newsrooms, as well as the emotional challenges of checking in on loved ones and assessing damage.

“Part of your job, even as a journalist, is becoming something of a first responder. It’s very unnerving, but the reason we’re all in this business, I think, is to help people.”

– Harriet Heithaus, Naples Daily News

+ Noted: New social media policy bans Alaskan legislators from blocking constituents (Anchorage Daily News); Financial Times and Google partner to support 500 publishers (Financial Times); Lack of Latino representation in U.S. media is bad for business (NPR)


API’s Kamaria Roberts named recipient of INMA’s 30 Under 30 leadership award (INMA)

Kamaria Roberts, deputy director of local news transformation at API, has been honored by the International News Media Association for her early career achievements, insights into innovation, ability to influence and likely management skills. “One key focus area for news organisations to better serve their communities involves the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. And Kamaria is wholly committed to making these values part of the conversation,” INMA said in its announcement. “Her focus on inclusion is proving to be vital in an industry that is falling short of serving large communities, and she remains committed to helping companies change their practices and make important strides toward inclusion.”


How subscriptions are lighting the way to brighter future for local news publishers (Press Gazette)

As digital subscriptions are predicted to surpass print subscriptions for the first time in 2023, Aisha Majid highlights local newspapers with strong digital subscriber counts. The Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Minneapolis StarTribune, Seattle Times and Philadelphia Inquirer rank at the top of local publications surveyed. Even smaller news media are growing their digital subscribers as well — and sometimes a smaller overall audience can be an advantage. Successful publishers have also boosted their digital footprint by using technology to understand their audience and improve SEO and user experience, Majid writes.

+ How the 2020 election roundtable brought together voters for open, virtual conversations (Gather)


Referendum coverage proves media is still vulnerable to Russian disinformation (Atlantic Council)

Months into the Russian occupation of Ukraine, media outlets around the world are still falling for Russia’s disinformation tactics, writes Peter Dickinson. Following Russia’s illegal referendum to annex occupied areas of Ukraine, major news outlets reported the suspect voting results in a matter-of-fact manner. Headlines such as “Over 96% said to favour joining Russia in first vote results from occupied Ukraine regions” and “Russian-held referendums in occupied Ukraine opt for annexation,” alongside coverage using phrases such as “Pro-Moscow authorities” in Ukraine, reinforce Russian disinformation.  


AI can now create any image in seconds, bringing wonder and danger (The Washington Post)

Artificial intelligence image platform DALL-E has taken the world by storm since being released this spring, and the interest in AI-generated images has only grown — 1.5 million users are generating 2 million images a day, Nitasha Tiku writes. DALL-E is one of many such platforms that allow users to request the creation of any image imaginable using artificial intelligence. But AI companies are scrambling to put limits in place to prevent a growing list of dangers — from harassment and reinforcing stereotypes to disinformation and plagiarism. 

“Once the line between truth and fake is eroded, everything will become fake. We will not be able to believe anything.”

— Wael Abd-Almageed, University of Southern California 


In Favre and Udoka scandals, some see echoes of sports media’s shortcomings (NBC News)

News of Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka’s suspension for the 2022-2023 season due to “violations of team policies” — which some outlets report involve an inappropriate relationship with a staffer — has dominated sports news coverage. But some argue the spotlight should be shifted from Udoka’s personal affairs to Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Farve’s involvement in a Mississippi welfare scandal, Char Adams writes. Reports of Farve pushing for millions of dollars in federal welfare funds to be used at his daughter’s school have largely been swept under the rug in the wake of Udoka’s suspension.


FOIA request releases off-the-record conversation with Obama 3 days before he left office (Twitter, @JasonLeopold)

Bloomberg reporter Jason Leopold tweeted that a FOIA request he submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice five years ago turned up the transcript of a conversation President Barack Obama had with journalists about President Donald Trump days before leaving office. Obama told reporters he was concerned that a two-term presidency for Trump could result in political norms being undermined, among other comments about the Republican party Leopold writes are “almost prescient.” It’s rare that this type of off-the-record conversation between a president and journalists is released publicly, he adds.