Need to Know: April 6, 2021

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Poor Americans are the country’s most charitable demographic (Philanthropy News Digest) 

But did you know: Even in areas without deep pockets, Main Street America shows up to support local news (Poynter)

As part of its goal of making local news more sustainable, Report for America has focused on helping newsrooms raise support from their communities. In examining its own data about fundraising, Report for America discovered that under-resourced communities gave just as much money to local news organizations as wealthier areas. Overall, individual donors made up nearly half of the money earned by all of Report for America’s partners news organizations, and the vast majority of those donors gave less than $100. Often, these donations are tied to a specific reporter, showing how local news organizations that are deeply embedded in a community will draw funding, even in less affluent areas. 

+ Noted: Tribune Co. is seriously evaluating the new acquisition bid it received as an alternative to Alden Global Capital’s (New York Times); How a group of Baltimore Sun reporters sparked the effort to find an alternative buyer for Tribune (Washington Post); South Carolina’s Post and Courier’s parent to split into 3 separate companies (The Post and Courier)

API UPDATE

Webinar: Tackling misinformation — Lessons from 2020 for 2021

From the pandemic to the election, 2020 was rife with false claims and distorted narratives. How can newsrooms make the best use of their resources to respond to misinformation moving forward? On Friday, April 16 at noon ET, API and the News Leaders Association will host a discussion with journalists from the Detroit Free Press, Black Girl Media, Documented and Associated Press to share tools and strategies for covering misinformation. Learn more and register.

+ Related: ‘How will we target and fight the most prevalent misinformation in our communities?’ and 6 other questions to help local media rebound in 2021 

TRY THIS AT HOME

How Reveal is taking action on diversity, equity and inclusion (Medium, INNsights) 

In 2020, a study from the Institute for Nonprofit News found that nonprofit newsrooms are more diverse than traditional newsrooms. And in a new case study, INN has delved deep into Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, which created a DEI plan last year that included revising its hiring practices. After journalists of color delivered a letter to executives about workplace practices last summer, the newsroom implemented wide-ranging changes to recruiting and onboarding processes, performance reviews and training requirements for everyone on staff. The outlet also redesigned its title, pay and promotion structure to standardize raises and give a more clear cut path for advancement. 

OFFSHORE

How the Panama Papers are still having a big impact after five years (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)  

It’s been five years since more than 100 media outlets around the world collaborated on the release of the “Panama Papers” records from the offshore financial system, and the effects of the massive investigation are still being felt. In March alone, 300 articles in 14 languages referenced the Panama Papers in stories about investigations and reforms. The collaborative nature of the investigation — more than 370 journalists from 76 news organizations worked in secret for more than a year — was a milestone for journalism. Jóhannes Kr. Kristjánsson, an Icelandic journalist who worked on the project, said that this type of cross-border work can have a huge impact on promoting democracy and helping spread information in countries with poor human rights and press freedom records.  

OFFBEAT

In a Pennsylvania town, a Facebook group fills the local news void with fear (NBC News) 

In Beaver County, Pennsylvania, roughly one-quarter of the county’s population is a member of the public Facebook group The News Alerts of Beaver County. Rumors and conjecture spread fast in the group. After a recent rumor about a criminal on the loose began spreading in Chippewa Township, moderators couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of posts that flooded the group in less than an hour. The Facebook group has become a primary source of breaking news since the area’s local newspaper, The Beaver County Times, was decimated following a sale to GateHouse Media. This group’s sole moderator says she spends six hours every day monitoring and administering the group. 

UP FOR DEBATE

Why being ‘anti-media’ is less about the press and more about the GOP identity (Five Thirty Eight) 

Trust in the media has been falling among Republicans for decades, hitting an all time low of 10% in 2020, according to data from Gallup. But the partisan divide of news consumption — where most Republicans don’t trust any news except for expressly conservative outlets like Fox News — has made being opposed to “the media” a part of Republican identity in a new way, writes Meredith Conroy. A study of social media found that users of the term “fake news” were attempting to create a common community, brought together by a shared enemy. This is particularly true of fans of former President Trump, for whom anti-media sentiment is used to distinguish themselves from everyone else, including mainstream Republicans. This means that “distrust has shifted from an attitude about the institution itself to a credential of conservatism,” writes Conroy. 

SHAREABLE

‘Exhaustion around the pandemic’: Parenting publishers find value in a break from COVID coverage (Digiday)

When the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, publishers focused on parenting drew in a surge in readership as families looked for guidance on how to cope with the new world of work and school from home. Now, those publishers say they’re moved away from discussing COVID-19 outright as pandemic life has become everyday reality. The shift began last year, as audiences wanted a break from wall-to-wall coronavirus coverage. Now, advertisers have also begun looking past the pandemic, with the focus expected to shift towards travel, food and finance.