Need to Know: August 19, 2020


You might have heard: News organizations built new ways to inform (and comfort) kids about coronavirus (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: NowThis launches kids brand to reach children of millennials (Axios)

NowThis, Group Nine’s video-focused news brand, is launching a new vertical aimed at the children of millennials called NowThis Kids. Aimed at ages six to 11, the brand will begin as a YouTube channel, podcast and newsletter. Videos will be hosted by 13-year-old Naomi Wadler, who led a walk-out of her school focused on gun violence against Black women. The vertical will be sponsored by Cheerios, and comes a year after Group Nine’s animal brand, The Dodo, launched a children’s vertical. The programming is designed for children who will be remote learning in the fall, and whose parents want them to keep up with current events and social issues in an age-appropriate manner.

+ Noted: Tow Center has launched this survey about the health and future of local newspapers in the U.S. (Medium, Damian Radcliffe); Chalkbeat’s newsroom staff forms a union (Chalkbeat); Motherboard launches The Mail, a limited-run newsletter and zine about the U.S. Postal Service (Substack, The Mail); Outlier Media is launching an SMS-based information needs assessment for Newark residents (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)


Trust tip: Explain how political advertising works (Trusting News)

In this election year, many local news organizations will be airing political ads, but viewers may not understand how political advertising works. Some may wonder if they serve as an endorsement of a candidate, or if the outlet has any say in the content of the ads. It’s important to be clear with your audience about rules related to these ads — for instance, FCC regulations that govern broadcast television — and details that readers may find interesting, like the amount of money spent on each ad. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.

+ This Friday at noon CT, Trusting News is holding a free 15-minute webinar on simple actions newsrooms can take to build credibility around their election coverage. Sign up here. (Trusting News)


How to help your journalists improve their remote interviews (International Journalists’ Network)

With the coronavirus keeping journalists socially distanced from their sources, Damian Radcliffe offers nine tips for journalists getting used to doing remote interviews. Preparing the technical side of an interview is key — test your recording app, check the Wi-Fi, and decide ahead of time whether you and your source will be on- or off-camera for a video interview. Be sure to get consent before recording, and ensure that your digital files have backups (and backups of your backups). And even if your recording was primarily intended for a written piece, using snippets of audio can boost engagement on social media.

+ What journalists should say to improve online discussions (Taylor & Francis Online)


Canadian broadcaster using pop-up journalism as a lower-budget approach to local news (Reuters Institute)

Since 2018, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation has been experimenting with one-person “pop-up” news bureaus to cover smaller, underserved communities. The company provides a multimedia journalist with all the tools to run a bureau in a remote area for up to six months. Livia Manywounds ran a pop-up bureau for Tsuut’ina First Nation, of which she is a member. She said viewers belonging to the Indigenous group soon filled her inbox with tips and leads, as did viewers belonging to other First Nation communities near Calgary. Her success came when she saw CBC Calgary covering a First Nations election with a similar style and depth of a standard municipal election.


How the domestic aesthetics of Instagram repackage QAnon for the masses (The Atlantic)

As QAnon has spread widely on the internet, new adherents to the conspiracy theory are using Instagram’s picture-perfect lifestyle aesthetic as an attractive background for their message. Influencers, mostly women, who became known for makeup tutorials and sponsored fashion posts are diving into the QAnon conspiracy on Instagram, spreading claims about the “deep state” and media distrust on pink and peach slides. Many are not fully versed in the details of QAnon, writes Kaitlyn Tiffany, but were drawn to its horrific (but unfounded) stories of child trafficking, which were spread by parenting bloggers. Experts say that the platform’s influencers have cultivated a specific blend of aspirational and authentic, giving them credibility with their followers.


Gen Z is not the COVID problem: Constantly highlighting young people’s mistakes is counterproductive (New York Daily News)

Coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has often focused on young people who are flaunting safety precautions, but Hannah Lang, a student at Dartmouth College, says that the focus on their behavior has been unfair. Not only does it demonize a younger generation, but studies have shown that reporting on dangerous behavior can normalize and even encourage that same behavior. Lang argues that it is important to highlight young adults like her, who have spent the pandemic trying to help others and stop the spread of the virus.


How whiteness dilutes voices of color at public radio stations (The American Prospect)

Public radio has become synonymous with a certain audience — older, college-educated, middle-to-upper class, white. Journalists of color who have worked at various public radio stations across the country say that focusing on this target audience often restricts the stories that can be told about race. Many said they were told that their audience wouldn’t “get” stories that didn’t follow the prescribed narrative — either quirky stories about white people, or uplifting stories about people of color. Others said that strong accents were given limited airtime. In the end, many ended up leaving public radio.