Need to Know: December 11, 2020


You might have heard: The Correspondent was widely criticized for not opening a newsroom in the U.S. after an enormous crowdfunding campaign to do so (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: The Correspondent will stop publishing at the end of the year (The Correspondent)

The Correspondent, the heavily promoted English-language sister site to the Netherlands’ De Correspondent, will shut down at the end of 2020. In a letter to members, founders Rob Wijnberg and Ernst-Jan Pfauth explained that the site had become financially unviable due to a “marked increase in membership cancellations.” They also said that the coronavirus pandemic created a need for more immediate service journalism — i.e., “Will my kid’s school be open tomorrow?” — and not the long-form, transnational reporting that the site specialized in. “While essential, this is not the kind of journalism we were set up to do,” they wrote.

+ Related: On Twitter, many criticized the site’s rollout and financial management, calling it “a dishonest grift from the beginning,” a “bait and switch,” “bunko artists,” and “at best a shit show and at worst a scam.” (Twitter, @alexkotch, @ckrewson, @froomkin, @bmorrissey)

+ Noted: The International Federation of Journalists says 42 journalists and media workers were killed while doing their jobs in 2020 (AP); Gannett will outsource 485 business-side jobs to India (Poynter); Brave browser-maker launches privacy-friendly news reader (Ars Technica)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Minding the knowledge gap on the COVID-19 vaccine, the efficacy of social media labels, and the stubbornness of claims that some politicians wear wires during debates. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.  


This weekend, The City is hosting a three-day online event to honor the memories of New Yorkers lost to COVID-19 (The City)

Since May, the New York City-based news site The City has been memorializing New Yorkers who have died from COVID-19 in its “Missing Them” project. This weekend, the site will host a three-day virtual memorial event for the nearly 25,000 New Yorkers who have died from the virus. The site has invited family and friends of the deceased to share some words in honor, with the goal of creating “avenues of connection” and bringing comfort to those in mourning. The event will also feature readings, workshops, music and video tributes.


Investigation reveals pro-Indian disinformation campaign that used hundreds of fake media outlets (BBC)

The EU DisinfoLab has published an extensive report documenting a 15-year global disinformation campaign that aimed to discredit Pakistan and promote Indian interests. Last year, the lab discovered hundreds of pro-Indian websites around the world that were owned by the same Delhi-based holding organization. The news sites would quote and republish each other’s articles, creating layers of fake information that were difficult to trace. The primary goal appears to be to influence European Union officials. It’s unclear whether the campaign is affiliated with the Indian government.


Google News Initiative is creating a global vaccine media hub (Twitter, @Mantzarlis)

As part of its broader work on fighting pandemic misinformation, the Google News Initiative is creating a COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub. According to Alexios Mantzarlis, the news and information credibility lead at Google, the hub will provide journalists with access to scientific expertise and round-the-clock updates on the vaccine. The initiative involves media centers and public health experts from around the world, and content will be made available in seven languages. Google is also funding more research on the best ways to counteract misinformation about vaccines.


Journalism organizations are asking for frontline journalists to get vaccinated ahead of the general population (Quill)

More than a dozen journalism organizations have asked the CDC to allow frontline journalists to receive the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the general population. The request applies in particular to field reporters covering public events like rallies and protests, as well as those covering the pandemic directly. The groups requested the journalists be in the second-wave group of vaccine recipients, behind health care workers and frontline workers. Their letter asks the CDC to look at the essential work of journalists, which “cannot be performed without physically engaging in the communities they serve, regardless of the risk.”


How DC-area newsrooms plan to celebrate the holidays during the pandemic (Washingtonian)

In normal years, Christmas parties can be major social events for news publications in D.C. This year, media outlets are spending their festive funds elsewhere. Some have shifted their festivities online, hosting virtual parties with gift-giving and trivia contests. Others have given bonuses and gifts to employees, while many are donating to charity. Some have extensive schedules for their shindigs, including Slate’s team-based talent show, NPR’s four-and-a-half hour event (which concludes with a dance party), and radio station WTOP’s week-long itinerary of holiday activities.


+ Why advice columns have become a safe bet in an otherwise precarious media landscape (Study Hall)

+ Zeynep Tufekci is inviting guest columnists to write counter arguments to her essays (Substack, Insight)

+ Can Substack CEO Chris Best build a new model for journalism? (The Verge)

+ 3 ways the nonprofit newsroom PublicSource is becoming more sustainable (Medium, LION Publishers)