Need to Know: August 3, 2020

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


You might have heard: During the pandemic, major events like the Olympics have been canceled (Business Insider)

But did you know: Reporters to be excluded from Trump nomination (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

In what will be the first Republican presidential nomination in history without reporters present, the event and other activities in Charlotte this month will be closed to journalists due to North Carolina’s crowd restrictions. The Republican National Committee also has reduced the number of attending delegates from 2,550 to 336, and is blocking alternate delegates from participating. Three days of the event were briefly scheduled for Jacksonville, Fla., before health concerns forced the RNC to cancel that part of the convention.

+ Noted: James Murdoch resigned from the News Corp. board on Friday due to editorial disagreements with the company (Hollywood Reporter); The Washington Post released its demographic information for the first time, showing the staff is 57% white and has lost Black employees since 2015 (Nieman Lab)


Apply by today’s deadline to improve your 2020 elections coverage with API’s Metrics for News

We’re accepting applications for free access to an analytics tool to help publishers track and improve their 2020 elections coverage based on audience needs and engagement. The 60 newsrooms that are selected will receive access through November, along with training, coaching calls and other resources. The deadline to apply is tonight at 11:59 p.m. EST, and you can send any questions you may have to


Capturing racial justice protests with data (

Some journalists are using data to shed light on narratives that have been ignored or misunderstood. A New York Times analysis found that police in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died in custody, were seven times more likely to use force against Black people compared to whites. As the response to Floyd’s death became a movement, data analyst Alex Smith created a map showing where Black Lives Matter protests happened in cities around the world. Smith identified the 4,352 locations on his map through a mix of sources, including web scraping, Google, social media, Reddit, Wikipedia and tips. 

+ 5 ideas for covering the coronavirus’ impact on people of color and the poor (Poynter)


Deleted Biden video sets off a crisis at Voice of America (Politico)

United States-funded Voice of America has a news service for Urdu speakers in Pakistan, India and other countries. Last month, Voice of America officials removed a story and video from a left-leaning 501(c)(4) about a Joe Biden event geared toward Muslim Americans. The network leaders determined the content broke its editorial standards and as of last week were considering suspending four contractors who played a role in running the content. The video was flagged to U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack, who fired the leaders of Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe and two other outlets soon after taking the post in June.

+ Related: With their visas in limbo, Voice of America journalists worry they’ll have to leave the United States (The Washington Post)

+ The Indian government arrested, assaulted or filed police complaints against more than 50 journalists (The Guardian)


How the Department of Homeland Security can still arrest journalists in Portland (The Nation)

After a lawsuit alleged federal law enforcement agencies were targeting journalists at Portland protests, a judge issued an order temporarily blocking the officers from arresting, threatening to arrest or using force against journalists. In response to the order, the DHS advised its employees on how to arrest and use crowd suppressants against journalists without being held legally liable, according to a copy of the instructions obtained by The Nation. For instance, the guidance said officers wouldn’t be liable for using tear gas and other crowd control tactics against journalists if they weren’t the intended target.

+ On average, BuzzFeed is making a 25% commission on products sold through its new shopping site (The Wall Street Journal); Knight Institute sued the president for continuing to block Twitter critics (Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University)


Why The New York Times needs to do more to help save local news (Nieman Lab)

Joshua Benton makes this argument in an open letter to Meredith Kopit Levien, who was named CEO of New York Times Co. last month. The New York Times and Washington Post control half of the nation’s digital news subscriptions, with the Times scoring more digital subscribers than every local newspaper combined. Benton suggests the Times could bundle subscriptions with local publications as an incentive to subscribers, as well as share resources like data and technology. 


How The Conversation is turning 100 million pageviews into trust in experts (Media Voices Podcast)

For the last few years, Chris Waiting, CEO of The Conversation UK, which publishes the work of academics and researchers, was frustrated that the public wasn’t seeking out experts. During the pandemic, that changed as the site peaked with 100 million pageviews in March before settling at 70 million. “Nobody knew what was going on,” Waiting said. “So the public was just really hungry to have experts not only explain the current moment, but to put it in context.” The Conversation also has seen growth with its newsletter, which has 72,000 subscribers, a third of whom open the email every day.

+ How Conexión Migrante became a switchboard for Latino migrants in the U.S. (The Membership Puzzle Project)