Need to Know: August 4, 2021


You might have heard: PA Post merges with Spotlight PA to create largest statewide news organization in Pennsylvania (The Lenfest Institute)

But did you know: How Hearst is conquering Connecticut with the latest in a growing roster of statewide networks (Poynter) 

Earlier this summer, Hearst announced that it would pool the resources of its 22 publications across the state of Connecticut into a new digital site, It’s the culmination of 15 years of Hearst’s investments in news outlets across the state, and reflects a larger national trend of chains and big municipal newspapers focusing on statewide coverage. The larger coverage area will benefit beats like investigative journalism and sports; the latter is dominated in the state by the University of Connecticut. The new site has a freemium model, and executives say the focus is on building a paid subscriber base. 

+ Noted: Knight Foundation announces Jim Brady as VP/Journalism and Heidi Barker as VP/Communications and Chief DEI Officer (Knight Foundation); Daisy Veerasingham named president and CEO of The Associated Press (AP); CNN anchor Chris Cuomo took part in strategy calls advising his brother, the New York governor, on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations (The Washington Post); White House back-channeling with networks on Covid coverage amid concern that alarmed coverage may harm the vaccine campaign  (Politico) 


Trust Tip: Stop journalismsplaining (Trusting News)

Journalists need to be proactive in explaining their reporting, writes Lynn Walsh, but without falling into industry jargon or becoming defensive. They should begin by deciding what to explain about the reporting process — not every story will need an explanation, and some things will make more sense to explain in one story compared to another. Think about the assumptions your users make about your work, says Walsh, and try to address them in clear, simple language. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


Austin newsroom explains ‘fake news’ as part of media literacy series (KVUE) 

As part of a new series on media literacy, Austin-based TV station KVUE is helping viewers understand what “fake news” is, and what it isn’t. Gina Masullo of the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin explains that the term fake news can refer to everything from a completely fabricated story to an article with a perceived bias to a work of parody. But, she explains, journalists at news organizations are held to high standards of ethical and factual standards, and failing to uphold those standards is grounds for termination. Masullo discourages audiences from applying the term “fake news” to criticism of favored politicians or public figures. 

+ Earlier: How to build media literacy into your stories (American Press Institute)


Venezuelan journalists are delivering the morning news on buses (AP) 

As the Venezuelan government cracks down on press freedom in the country, journalists are turning to non-traditional forms of distribution to get news out to the public. Juan Pablo Lares has taken to “hosting” El Bus TV Capitolio, in which he reads a scripted newscast on a morning bus while a colleague holds a cardboard frame around his face to mimic a television. “This newscast is a way to overcome censorship and misinformation in Venezuela,” he told bus riders. Other journalists are giving away free newspapers and encouraging readers to pass them on to others, while some simply walk into neighborhoods and read the news for pedestrians and residents who lean out their windows. 


Fostering a culture of belonging in the hybrid workplace (Harvard Business Review) 

Research has shown that employees who feel like they belong to part of a team tend to perform better and enjoy their work more, while employees who don’t feel like they belong are more likely to burnout and underperform. As work becomes more hybrid, companies need to take extra steps to ensure that employees feel connected. One key element is making sure that after prioritizing diversity, companies build a culture of inclusiveness that ensures that instead of requiring people to “fit in,” everyone is able to see how their unique talents add to the team. Organizations also need to introduce a social element to work, even when employees are, by necessity or choice, not in the same place. And companies need to be comfortable with the office’s culture evolving, even if it means big changes. 


Media profits can’t come at the expense of Latinx and immigrant lives (Prism)

Two years after a mass shooting in El Paso that killed 23 people and specifically targeted the Latinx community, Jessica J. González argues that social media platforms and media companies continue to accept “white supremacy as the cost of doing business.” She writes that media companies that give voice to anti-immigrant lies and other forms of racist hate, such as the conglomerates that aired Rush Limbaugh’s radio show for decades, help to spread “messages of hate from coast to coast.” And in the run-up to the 2020 election, some local broadcasters ran anti-immigrant ads that were designed to scare white voters. González argues that media companies need to be held responsible along with social media companies for the damage that they do. 


The outing of a priest shines light on the power — and partisanship — of Catholic media in the U.S. (Nieman Lab)

A July article in The Pillar, a Substack newsletter founded earlier this year by former staffers at Catholic News Agency, alleged that Catholic priest Jeffrey Burrill used the hookup app Grindr and had visited gay bars, leading to Burrill’s resignation. Peter Cajka writes that Catholic media, while less prominent than Evangelical Christian media, has its own ecosystem, ranging from global publications to diocesan newsletters. And these news outlets, like the rest of the media, have become more drawn into cultural issues, taking sides that endear them to some Catholics while angering others. Cajka says that this can have detrimental effects on the work done by these outlets. He argues that The Pillar’s implication that celibacy requirements for priests may lead to abuse is problematic in the sense that it links homosexuality and pedophilia.