Need to Know: April 13, 2021


You might have heard: In a 2020 survey, 20% of female media workers said they had been attacked offline (ICFJ)

But did you know: A culture shift is needed in the media industry to take online violence as seriously as physical violence (Nieman Reports)

Online violence against journalists — particularly against women and journalists of color — has serious consequences on how news is reported, writes Elisa Lees Muñoz of the International Women’s Media Foundation. It can also be traumatic for the journalists, who may suffer symptoms of PTSD after targeted online attacks, but still may be hesitant to speak up about the abuse. The IWMF has developed the Coalition Against Online Violence, which calls on news organizations to create an environment where journalists feel comfortable discussing online violence. This means identifying specific staff members to listen to complaints, developing peer support networks, paying to have employees’ personal details removed from data broker sites, and helping journalists prepare for harassment when certain stories are released.

+ Earlier: Next-level harassment of female journalists is putting news outlets to the test (Vanity Fair)

+ Noted: Election SOS releases its report on lessons in engagement and trust-building from the 2020 elections (Election SOS); USA Today lost more than half of its print sales last year (Press Gazette); Gawker is getting another re-launch, under a former Gawker editor (Mediaite); Reuters names Alessandra Galloni as its next editor-in-chief (Reuters)


Podcast: Nonprofit newsrooms turn rivalry into revenue stream (It’s All Journalism)

Chrissy Beck, managing director of The Chronicle at Duke University, and Erica Perel, former general manager at The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina, explain how their newsrooms teamed up to create the Rivalry Challenge around the annual Duke-UNC basketball game. The fundraising campaign turned into a revenue maker for both nonprofit newsrooms. This episode is the latest in “Better News,” a podcast series from It’s All Journalism and API that shares success stories from the Table Stakes newsroom training program.

+ This Friday at noon ET, API and the News Leaders Association will host a discussion on helpful tools and strategies for covering misinformation. Register here. (Eventbrite)


What words we use — and avoid — when covering people and incarceration (The Marshall Project)

In order to ensure that its coverage of people who are incarcerated is both fair and humanizing, The Marshall Project has developed an official policy “based on the logic of ‘people-first’ language.” Instead of using terms like “inmate” or “convict,” which carry negative associations and implications, the site will now use phrases like “incarcerated people” or “people jailed in X facility.” They will also eliminate nouns outside of incarceration, such as “felon,” “parolee,” and “sex offender.” These changes will not be made in quotations or personal essays, and editors say that they plan to keep evolving their language to ensure accuracy and clarity.


American professor slams Murdoch press for ‘horrifying’ misinformation on climate in Australian parliament (RenewEconomy)

In a hearing before the Australian parliament, American scientist and professor Michael Mann attacked Rupert Murdoch’s media holdings, saying they have acted as a “megaphone” for climate disinformation. Mann said that Murdoch’s media have purposely “distort[ed] the public’s understanding of the facts” in the U.S. and Australia, which has provided fodder for conservative politicians in both countries. The hearing was part of an inquiry into the state of media diversity in Australia, with much attention given to the role that Murdoch’s News Corp holds in the media ecosystem. Mann accused News Corp of “violating basic codes of journalism.”


What newsrooms can learn from creator culture and monetization strategies (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

Increasingly, younger people are turning to social media influencers for news, and more Gen Zers are joining the creator economy in order to “make a difference.” This is part of a larger trend that favors individual voices over brands. Supporters of individual creators have a connection to these storytellers that makes them follow their work because they are looking to feel recognized and affirmed. Many social platforms are adding tipping options, which are less formal payment options for fans — not a monthly, automated subscription, but an impulsive gift that demonstrates an emotional relationship to the creator. News organizations could learn from this model by focusing on products that build connections with certain reporters and by partnering with influencers where it makes sense.


Failing to report on effective responses neglects entire communities (The Whole Story, Solutions Journalism Network)

Solutions journalism is premised on the idea that reporting on problems without including effective responses to them leads to an incomplete story. It can also stem from being in a position of privilege, Allison Lichter Joseph of The New School argues. Not needing solutions is a luxury afforded to those not directly affected by the problems, she writes. Communities directly impacted by an issue — be it climate change or housing affordability — don’t have the privilege of focusing solely on its problems, but also need to know how they can be resolved. Lichter Joseph has taught her students to incorporate systems thinking into their reporting, with the goal of integrating solutions into the broader framework of journalism.

+ Related: How Charlotte’s WSOC-TV took a solutions journalism approach to affordable housing in its community — and improved its ratings (Better News)


Combatting COVID-19 news fatigue: How journalists can keep readers engaged (European Journalism Centre)

Newsrooms around the world were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many in Europe are struggling now that audiences are tired of the endless negative news about the pandemic. Patricia Torres and Bilal Randeree from the Media Development Investment Fund advise newsrooms there to focus on discovering what kind of non-COVID information is their audience looking for, by reaching out directly for feedback from readers or viewers. Particular attention should be paid to the most loyal audience members and which subjects they tend to engage with the most.