Need to Know: April 24, 2020


You might have heard: Report for America helped newsrooms raise nearly $1 million in local fundraising donations last year (Axios)

But did you know: Report for America surges during COVID crisis, fielding 225 reporters in local newsrooms (Report for America)

Members of the 2020 reporting cohort, announced this week, will be deployed to 162 local news outlets across the U.S. This year marks a major expansion from the current corps size of 59, of whom 90% are returning. About 40% are journalists of color, and more than a quarter speak Spanish. Their average age is 27. Nearly half of the newsrooms they will join are nonprofit. Initially the corps members will be covering the coronavirus, with plans to eventually shift to the beats originally defined by the newsrooms. “It’s now crystal clear that the need for trustworthy, accurate, and local information can be a matter of life and death,” said Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America. “This surge of reporters should help meet this moment.”

+ Noted: Google will feature a disclosure on all ads called “Why this ad?” where users can click to see who is behind the ad and which country they’re located in (CNBC); While vowing to police COVID-19 misinformation on its platform, Facebook let advertisers target users interested in “pseudoscience” (The Markup)


How the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle forged relationships with communities of color (Better News)

The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., is attracting new readers in the area’s nine most diverse ZIP codes by partnering with local community groups and launching a mobile newsroom that visits neighborhoods that have traditionally been underrepresented in their coverage. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.

+ Related: Examples of news orgs that are covering how communities of color are facing harsher economic and physical consequences from COVID-19 (Twitter, @soljourno)

+ In this week’s edition of Factually, a newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute, we look at harmful COVID-19 hoaxes


Meeting readers where they are, New York Times launches ‘At Home’ section in Sunday paper (Cheddar)

With travel and sporting events severely curtailed during the pandemic, the Sunday New York Times is skipping those print sections in favor of a new section focused on the shelter-in-place lifestyle that many Americans are currently experiencing. Starting this weekend, “At Home” will reportedly focus on entertainment and culture that can be experienced remotely, as well as tips on health and style, and will apparently run for “the duration of the pandemic.”

+ On Saturday, help #SaveStudentNewsrooms by lifting up great student journalism and explaining why it’s essential (The Lead)


European news outlets are tapping into video and live streaming (Digiday)

Publishers around Europe, including Sky News, The Sun, The Guardian, Euronews and The Telegraph, are addressing a captive home audience desperate for news by turning to streaming video, where views and subscriptions have grown since the beginning of the year. Live-stream offerings often include speeches and political debates, while original videos cover coronavirus-related questions and the new work-from-home reality. In February, YouTube banned monetization on any video that mentioned coronavirus, but the company has slowly started to roll that back after an outcry from creators.

+ Journalists around the world — in China, India, South Africa and elsewhere — are running into legal and law enforcement difficulties in covering COVID-19, as governments try to control the narrative surrounding the pandemic. (Reuters, Columbia Journalism Review)


Why we’re getting Zoom fatigue (Axios)

Many of us are not just using Zoom for team meetings and one-on-ones at work — we’re using it in our personal lives, to attend virtual happy hours, family events, religious services, kids’ online classes, and much more. But the technology doesn’t support normal human interaction the way we’ve evolved to interact — for example, eye contact, body language and other cues — and for that, it can feel increasingly exhausting. “Not everything needs to be a Zoom meeting,” writes Scott Rosenberg. “Phone calls still work fine too.”


As Axios qualifies for $5 million federal loan, questions linger about government aid to news organizations (Associated Press)

The website Axios announced Wednesday that it would be receiving a nearly $5 million loan as part of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. In the announcement, CEO Jim VandeHei said the company has suffered from cancelled live events and lost ad revenue, and that the loan will allow them to avoid layoffs and pay cuts for the rest of 2020. Some are questioning whether Axios, which launched in 2017 with $30 million in venture capital funding, is the most deserving of the money, while others are debating how news organizations receiving funds will disclose that aid in future reporting about government stimulus packages.


Could entrepreneurship be a way to retain knowledge and experience of older journalists targeted by buyouts? (Editor & Publisher)

In conversations about saving local news, we should be talking more about ways to keep reporters, editors and photographers over the age of 50 in the industry, writes Matt De Rienzo. Buyouts target that demographic, and those with the most experience and knowledge of their communities are often the first to walk out the door. “Although it’s not for everyone, entrepreneurship can be one of the most promising ways to keep experienced local journalists doing local journalism in their communities,” writes DeRienzo. But late-career journalists need help transitioning into the role of entrepreneur. “We need to talk a lot more about helping the people doing this work if we’re going to make the work itself sustainable.”


+ Inside the Facebook news team’s race to address COVID-19 — after it hit close to home (Protocol)

+ How COVID-19 has impacted media consumption, by generation (Visual Capitalist)

+ NPR’s Tiny Desk at Home concerts are a rare joy in the pandemic. Here’s how the team puts them together. (Poynter)