Need to Know: April 25, 2018
Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism
You might have heard: In December, a bankruptcy judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Gizmodo Media Group and parent company Univision for a 2016 investigation of Las Vegas oddsmaker RJ Bell. Litigation has since proceeded against the story’s author, Ryan Goldberg, who was a freelancer for Deadspin at the time.
But did you know: One legal case could open a can of worms for defamation suits against writers (Columbia Journalism Review)
Four words — “deemed to have received” — might determine the future of defamation suits against journalists in the United States. On April 9, journalist and former Gawker freelancer Ryan Goldberg appeared at a one-day bench trial at the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The question, after years of the companies changing hands and several months of litigation, is who is legally responsible for the investigation Goldberg wrote about RJ Bell? The judge didn’t have a clear answer for the case, and chose not to issue a decision. Should the judge rule in favor of Bell, the effects could be devastating — it could expose journalists like Goldberg to assuming future liability and leaving them vulnerable to defamation suits in cases where the publisher no longer exists.
+ Noted: Oath, which owns Yahoo and AOL, is changing its terms of service to force users to give up their class action lawsuit rights in the US (Axios); Sinclair Broadcast Group has significantly revised its plan for station divestitures to secure federal approval of a $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media (Variety); Bloomberg is planning to start charging readers to access stories (Business Insider); Vanity Fair launches a $20-a-year digital paywall (Digiday); 2018 Hillman prizes recognizing investigative reporting and deep storytelling are awarded (Hillman Foundation)
How competitive is it to get into The New York Times newsroom summer internship program? It is, statistically speaking, 10 times easier to gain acceptance to Harvard. Theodore Kim, director of newsroom fellowships and internships at The New York Times, says the newsroom received some 5,000 applications for 25 slots for this summer’s program. That means the internship has an acceptance rate of 0.5 percent — lower than any college in the United States. “Even as excitement about our profession rises among passionate young people, starting a career in journalism seems more difficult than ever,” Kim says. Here are four things you need to do to make your resume stand out: Be committed to journalism. Get newsroom internships. Write for your campus publication (or local community outlet). Think about your own narrative.
Owen Jones elicited backlash for his tweet calling out the British media for being socially exclusive and accusing it of groupthink. “Nothing caused so much anger as my suggestion that the British media is profoundly socially exclusive, writes Jones.” Just 7% of the British population are privately educated. But according to the Sutton Trust in 2016, 51% of Britain’s top journalists are privately educated. Just 19% attended a comprehensive school — unlike nearly 90% of the population. “Things do have to change. The abolition of unpaid internships. Paid scholarships for those from underrepresented backgrounds. A challenge to media ownership. More of a platform for dissenting voices. More political curiosity. A greater focus on ignored social issues,” says Jones. “This matters. The media is a crucial pillar of democracy … it is going to have to change.”
In a world awash in questionable information, libraries are commonly trusted sources. We need to honor, preserve, and protect that trust — and to be aware of the people who haven’t found trust in us yet, writes Laurie Putnam. There are useful lessons to learn from a profession that’s seriously examining its own trust factors: journalism. Librarians can learn these things from journalism research: The significance of being local, the need to listen carefully, the importance of working transparently, and the value of knowing and living up to our standards.
Just about any correspondent covering the White House today will tell you that the kind of tension and animus that exists between the press corps and the Trump administration is something new and different, writes Ted Johnson. Most reporters share a sense that covering Trump is a challenge like no other, at a time when political journalists and the First Amendment are under siege. It isn’t quite enough with this White House to report the news as they always have, as reporters are subjected to much greater scrutiny and demands. The stakes are higher and the criticisms more extreme, the attacks often personal. “I actively get death threats just for asking a question,” April Ryan says. “I have law enforcement on speed dial.”
Library-trained researcher Alice Crites has been a part of a half-dozen Pulitzer teams. Her latest was announced last week, for an investigation of Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The year before, she worked with David Fahrenthold on the Post’s Pulitzer-winning investigation of Donald Trump’s charitable giving. Crites, along with editorial research colleagues, has been at the backbone of Washington Post national, political and national security investigations in recent years.
+ Wellness apps, but for news: Can Neva Labs build a news reading experience that feels healthy? (Nieman Lab); How the Border Patrol faked statistics citing a 73 percent rise in assaults against agents (The Intercept)