Need to Know: April 6, 2020

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism 


You might have heard: Last year, The New York Times lost daily reporting manpower as a flurry of journalists went on leave to write books (Vanity Fair)

But did you know: Why The New York Times considers books — like podcasts and TV — ripe for expansion (Nieman Lab)

Alongside The New York Times’ forays into film, TV and podcasting, its book development team is growing, with plans to transform more of the paper’s reporting into books. With some books, the goal is building the Times brand and nudging readers to become subscribers. That was the idea behind a free ebook collection of the newspaper’s coronavirus stories that the Times directly published last month. The Times, Wall Street Journal and other news outlets have previously offered ebooks as a perk for premium subscribers.

+ Noted: A GoFundMe has raised about $37,000 for furloughed and laid-off journalists (GoFundMe); Bustle Digital shut down The Outline and laid off 24 workers (Variety); 22 Plain Dealer newsroom staffers laid off (Cleveland Scene); G/O Media lays off 14 people (Adweek)


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How to diversify coronavirus coverage to ‘start taking off the layers of this onion’ (National Press Club Journalism Institute)

Latinos are less likely to have health insurance than Americans overall, and according to the Pew Research Center, they are more concerned about the impacts of COVID-19. How can newsrooms better engage Latino communities and make sure their stories are represented in their coverage? In Raleigh, N.C., The News and Observer and Spanish-language news nonprofit Enlace Latino NC collaborated on a story about how immigrant farmworkers are being impacted by the pandemic. The story is available in both English and Spanish. Reporter Rebecca Aguilar makes it a priority to speak with a diverse group of sources, whether connecting in person or by social media.

+ How Charlotte Agenda is dodging layoffs with annual advertising contracts (Twitter, @scottbrodbeck); A webinar on how to manage your news business during the pandemic (LION Publishers)


A fast-food chain is paying to take down 16 Canadian newspapers’ paywalls this month (Nieman Lab)

News-hungry Canadians will get free access to more than a dozen publications thanks to an unlikely source: A fried chicken chain. Postmedia is lifting its paywalls during April through a sponsorship from Mary Brown’s Chicken and Taters, which is also running a separate advertising campaign with the news company. This boost follows Postmedia’s first-quarter loss of $3 million from reduced advertising and circulation.

+ The Danish government may earmark €24 million for local news (EU Observer); New Zealand’s largest magazines shut down and laid off about 300 staffers (The New Zealand Herald)


Summer internships are getting canceled because of coronavirus (Teen Vogue)

Internships are linked to lower unemployment and higher wages down the line, and according to a 2017 Gallup study, students who had a job or internship were twice as likely to be employed after graduating. Students across the country planned to participate in internships and fellowships that were later canceled, causing some to file for unemployment benefits. In other cases, students are losing paid positions and opting for unpaid internships in hopes of gaining much-needed experience. One young adult told Teen Vogue, “I fear that this situation will greatly impact the college class of 2020 as it relates to career security and financial stability.”

+ An unintended consequence of user-centered design is that it misses broader societies and systems (Medium, Alexis Lloyd)


Tribune Publishing tells reporter with COVID-19 symptoms to use PTO  (Twitter, @JessicaVillag)

After Chicago Tribune reporter Jessica Villagomez developed COVID-19 symptoms, her doctor’s office told her she was ineligible to be tested for the illness. Then she faced another challenge: Tribune Publishing policy said she would have to use PTO in order to be paid for her sick days. A Tribune Publishing human resources representative told Villagomez that her only option was to use five PTO days and apply for short-term disability benefits. The situation received criticism from other journalists, including Villagomez’s colleague, Rex Huppke, who said, “We’ve got reporters risking their health on the front lines of a pandemic. Doing the right thing shouldn’t be hard.”

+ The Cuomo Brothers Show: Should the journalism-ethics police shut it down? (The Washington Post)


Meet me under the stars (online): Teen Vogue creates virtual prom for students staying home (Adweek)

News outlets are adapting to mass cancellations with virtual events, like concerts. Teen Vogue plans to hold two events on Zoom – a prom and a graduation ceremony – for students after their schools canceled these annual rites of passage. Teen Vogue editor in chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner will host next month’s virtual prom, which the publication says will have cameos from yet-to-be-announced celebrities and “epic thematic backdrops.”

+ When watching NBA stars play video games is the only show in town (ESPN); Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez of the San Francisco Examiner: “The hardest part is not a furlough of pay. The hardest part is the furlough of mission.”