Need to Know: Dec. 13, 2019


You might have heard: Nearly three-quarters of Republicans say the news media don’t understand people like them (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: How much someone approves of President Trump is directly correlated to how much they trust the media (Pew Research Center)

A survey from the Pew Research Center shows that “highly engaged partisans” tend to have either very low or very high opinions of journalists’ ethics — depending on which side of the political aisle they’re on. Democrats and Republicans who consider themselves more moderate and less politically aware tend to have more confidence and trust in journalists. According to the survey, 31% Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say journalists have very low ethical standards, roughly six times the 5% of Democrats and Democratic leaners who say this. Overall, there is a 46 percentage point gap between all Democrats and Republicans (including those who lean to each party) in whether they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence that journalists will act in the best interests of the public.

+ Noted: RJI is seeking project ideas for its flexible fellowship program (Reynolds Journalism Institute); NPR updates its member fee model, tying it to stations’ donor revenue (Current)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Anti-vaxxers are adopting new tactics, fact-checkers in India set guidelines for self-care, and a new tool from CrowdTangle lets users search for posts across Facebook, Instagram and Reddit. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


How much are you investing in subscriber retention versus acquisition? (Twipe)

“There is a growing industry consensus that publishers should invest 3-10x more on [subscriber] engagement than acquisition,” writes Mary-Katharine Phillips. Yet a survey from INMA found that 59% of publishers spend less on engagement than they do on acquisition. Since research has shown that it’s more expensive to acquire new subscribers than to retain existing ones, spending more on retention and engagement could save money (and drive more revenue) in the long run.

+ 7 things to consider before adopting AI in your news organization (Polis)


Want to search for hidden connections between companies? Meet Sinapsis (Poynter)

Animal Politico, the largest fact-checking organization in Mexico, has launched a new tool that makes it easier for fact-checkers to extract and analyze data on private companies, letting them trace connections that could reveal corrupt activities. “[Sinapsis] helps us detect alliances and ‘coincidences’ (in large databases), the kind of information that is usually essential to reach conclusions,” said Yosune Chamizo, information designer at Animal Politico. Animal Politico has created a public Telegram group for Sinapsis users and those who want access to the tool or find out more about how it works.

+ Earlier: Peruvian investigative site Ojo Público develops algorithm to track possible acts of corruption (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)


Tackling math anxiety in journalism students (

A lot of journalism students — and a lot of journalists — lack the confidence and willingness to engage with numbers, a reluctance that could hold back the field as data literacy becomes increasingly important to good reporting. So how can journalism educators help their students overcome math anxiety? The first thing they can do is talk about it with students, says Kayt Davies. Math anxiety can make many students hesitate to ask questions in class, causing them to fall even further behind. Encouraging students to discuss it with them lets educators identify who may need the most help — or confidence-boosting.


Why the tired trope of the sexualized female journalist persists in movies such as ‘Richard Jewell’ (Boston Globe)

In television and the movies, female journalists are typically portrayed as unethical or incompetent, trading sex for tips or being forced to choose between love and their careers. But reality doesn’t line up with Hollywood’s portrayal. “I have known of one journalist who slept with her sources. One. Out of thousands,” said Kelly McBride, a senior vice president at the Poynter Institute. ”It’s so rare, it’s nonexistent.” But the trope reflects a broader sexist stereotype of women in the professional world, experts say — namely, that for a woman to achieve any kind of power or prestige, she must rely on something other than her own hard work and talent.


This is how Report for America ended up funding a community Wikipedia editor (!) at a library (!!) (Nieman Lab)

The Wikipedia editor will be based a few days each week at public libraries in Charlotte, N.C., where they will research and write up under-covered topics from the libraries’ archives for Wikipedia articles that are relevant to the Charlotte area. “If you look at the community in terms of the info-needs community, not in terms of the journalism needs, what are the ways in which a community gets its civically important info? The honest answer is that important players are Wikipedia and the library,” said Steven Waldman, cofounder of RFA. “We’re not saying we’ll have Wikipedia volunteers — that’s where we say we need professional journalists to do the reporting where there are reporting gaps.” If the experiment is successful, Waldman added, “It could become a model that could spread across the country and scale in a dramatic way that could make a big dent on the gaps of information.”


+ Change out of your mourning clothes — local news isn’t dying, writes Kristen Hare. Okay, maybe local newspapers owned by hedge funds and corporations are dying. But independently-owned local news, in many cases, is thriving. Local online news, in many cases, is thriving. Public radio is doing well for itself. So is local broadcast news. “Local news is changing,” writes Hare. “It’s rough. But it is not death.”

+ A new guide for telling powerful and inclusive stories with underserved communities (Engaged Journalism Accelerator)

+ The Athletic wants to be the “sports page for the world” (WAN-IFRA)