Need to Know: December 1, 2020


You might have heard: Ways to get your COVID-19 reporting to those who need it (American Press Institute) 

But did you know: Radio hosts were among the first who could explain COVID-19 to Indigenous Mexican farmworkers in US (CNN)

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., Radio Indígena became a lifeline for Indigenous Mexican farmworkers in southern California who don’t speak Spanish or English as a first language. The hosts of the station regularly switch between Spanish and indigenous languages like Mixteco, Zapoteco and Purépecha. The station is run by the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, which provides aid to local farmworkers, some of whom only speak indigenous languages. The station originally began as a way to inform farmworkers about labor rights and health programs, and has expanded to covering immigrant rights, domestic violence prevention and indigenous history. Covering the pandemic has been a challenge in ancient languages like Mixteco, which doesn’t include modern medical terms in its vocabulary.


Cutting Print: Making it work when publishing days must go

Cutting print publishing days should be part of a carefully planned transition to digital — not a means of cutting costs to ensure immediate financial survival. Our strategy study explores how newspapers can chart a sustainable path forward by reducing expenses related to print publishing and delivery and building a digital presence better suited for modern reader habits. 


Mapping Black media across the country (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism)

Historically, “Black media” has referred to weekly newspapers, written by and for Black audiences in cities with a large Black population. Increasingly, that label also applies to niche start-ups, publications serving West Indian and African audiences, radio stations and more. As part of its Black Media Initiative, the Center for Community Media at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism has built a national database of nearly 300 media outlets that primarily serve Black audiences. The Center for Community Media is actively seeking other publications to feature, including in newer formats like podcasting and newsletters.


New Zealand news publisher apologizes to Indigenous community for past content (Stuff)

Stuff, a news publisher in New Zealand with dozens of papers and a popular news website, has apologized to the country’s Indigenous Māori people for past racist content. Over the last few months, a team of journalists investigated the company’s coverage, looking for incidents of biased coverage or the perpetuation of Māori stereotypes over the past 160 years. Mark Stevens, the editorial director, writes that coverage “ranged from racist to blinkered” and was rarely “fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori.” In a piece published in both English and Māori, Stevens writes that the paper has too often been written from a white perspective, and lays out plans for increasing diversity and Māori voices in both newsrooms and publications.

+ Facebook to pay UK media millions to license news stories (The Guardian)


Book publishers have huddled together in search of safety (The Atlantic)

The proposed merger of publishing giants Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House has raised antitrust issues, but it’s a sign that these publishers need to band together against an even bigger monopoly — Amazon. The online bookstore-turned-everything store sells 49% of all new books, and the site can make or break a title through its placement and promotion. Franklin Foer writes that the government’s antitrust focus should not be on the publishing houses, but on Amazon’s monopoly on all commerce.


The media refused to evolve and left an entire generation questioning the process of information (A Media Operator)

The best business model for news organizations has been a topic of debate in the industry for years. But Jacob Cohen Donnelly of Morning Brew and Jarrod Dicker of The Washington Post argue that it’s not the business model we need to be focused on. “The business model is fine,” they write. “It’s whether we matter that needs to be discussed.” Instead of blaming the model, news organizations need to focus on creating a product in which consumers can find clear value, and pay for, either with money or attention.


The local news anchor who has helped thousands of Americans get unemployment benefits (The Atlantic)

Since March, Anne McCloy, an anchor in Albany, has received thousands of requests from people trying to collect unemployment. It began when a man drove to the station, seeking help after being unable to contact the state unemployment office. When she brought the issue to the governor’s office, they asked her to forward along requests for help. By mid-November, she had forwarded about 3,500 requests, which were then sent to the Department of Labor for follow-up. “It almost feels like if I don’t do something about this, then I’m not doing my job,” McCloy said. “This could be the most important thing I ever do in my life.”

+ Earlier: A community-driven reporting flow that goes beyond “information needs” to address barriers to using that information (Medium, El Tímpano)