Need to Know: December 6, 2022


You might have heard: Most Americans have never spoken with a local journalist (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Survey suggests people don’t trust news industry because they don’t understand it (Press Gazette) 

According to a new survey from British press regulator Impress, low levels of trust in the media are correlated with a lack of knowledge about how the media works. Nearly half (49%) of the respondents said they trusted the news media, but only 39% said that they trusted journalists. At least half of respondents said that they did not know how journalists choose what stories to cover or how to cover them, and didn’t know how media in the UK is regulated. “Reader priorities were thought to be far less important to news media than the views of owners and news organisations’ own political agendas,” writes Aisha Majid. 

+ Noted: Washington Post lays off Pulitzer-winning dance critic in spate of cuts (The Washington Post) 


Better News podcast: Salt Lake Tribune finds new audience, revenue stream from Mormon Land beat

The Salt Lake Tribune has been covering the Utah community for 151 years. Ever since the newspaper shifted to a nonprofit model three years ago, it’s been looking for innovative ways to identify new audiences and turn print subscribers into digital subscribers.

One area of success for the Tribune is its unique reporting on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, exemplified by the work of managing editor David Noyce and senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack. The duo produce a weekly podcast and newsletter under the Tribune’s Mormon Land mini-brand.

Better News recently published a study written by Danyelle White, the Tribune’s vice president of strategic initiatives and community engagement, and digital media manager Eve Rickles-Young. They talk to Better News podcast host Michael O’Connell about how the Mormon Land beat identified a national audience that is financially supporting their work through Patreon.

How should journalists talk about polarizing statements by politicians? We tested it. (Medium, Trusting News)

Journalists face a real bind when politicians make false claims about election integrity. Simply passing on false claims to readers feels wrong, but headlines laden with judgmental language and colorful adjectives may turn off the very readers who need to read the story and see the claim debunked. If journalists lose readers to social media and partisan news because of their stridently “pro-democracy” headlines, it may ironically be the case that headlines with a softer touch are a necessary compromise for journalists looking to debunk these claims. In other words, we found preliminary evidence supporting a much older truism: neutrality sells.


Al Día, Philly’s Latino newspaper, is adding staff and retooling for the digital age as it plans to go national (The Philadelphia Inquirer) 

Al Día News Media, a bilingual news outlet in Philadelphia, was founded 30 years ago, but it is still thriving today. Though the weekly glossy magazine still draws readers and advertisers, the publication is increasingly focused on its digital output, which has begun attracting more followers outside of Philadelphia. The outlet’s director of business development, Martin Alfaro, says that as the Latino population itself grows more diverse within the United States, there are more stories to tell that will appeal to a new generation of readers. 


How people around the world get their climate news (Reuters Institute) 

An online survey of news consumers from Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Pakistan, the U.K. and the U.S. found that nearly half of respondents had engaged with some news or information about climate change in the previous week. And about half of respondents said that they trusted the news media as a source of information about climate change. Those who consume information about climate change frequently are most likely to say that it is empowering to do. The vast majority of respondents around the world are at least somewhat worried about the impacts of climate change. 


Astra Magazine had creative freedom and a budget. It wasn’t enough. (The New York Times) 

The literary journal Astra Magazine was started in 2021 as a prestige publication to support Astra Publishing House, the U.S. branch of Chinese publishing company Thinkingdom Media Group. It was given healthy financial support to promote translated literature in the English-speaking world; its first two issues sold well. But the magazine has folded anyway, citing business interests. It’s a sign that even deep pockets aren’t enough to keep alive literary magazines, which have slowly faded from the media landscape.  


Survey finds noncommercial radio stations outpace commercial counterparts in newsroom diversity (Current) 

A new study has found that while radio newsrooms are becoming more racially diverse, noncommercial media is leading the way. In noncommercial radio newsrooms, 75% of staff was white, compared to 92% of staff in commercial stations. And 64% of noncommercial radio stations had some staffers of color, compared to only 12% of commercial newsrooms. The RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University Survey, conducted at the end of 2021, also found that 83% of noncommercial radio newsrooms had women on staff, compared to only 40% of commercial radio stations.