Need to Know: December 7, 2022


You might have heard: Illinois now requires media literacy instruction in its high school curriculum (NPR)

But did you know: N.J. could become first state to enact media literacy curriculum for K-12 students (The Philadelphia Inquirer) 

A bipartisan bill passed in the New Jersey legislature last month would require all public schools in the state to teach media literacy. The bill would help librarians, teachers and media specialists develop standards and resources to guide students through deciphering online information. One teacher said that even when she assigned news articles to her students, they would often repeat misinformation that they had seen on social media in class discussions. This bill would be the first that implements media literacy starting in kindergarten. 

+ Noted: BuzzFeed slashes 12% of its workforce, citing ‘worsening macroeconomic conditions’ (CNN); Rupert Murdoch to be deposed in $1.6 billion defamation case against Fox (The Washington Post); GE buys out entire NYT print paper in historic first (Axios)   


API is hiring a Web Applications Engineer

The Web Applications Engineer is a member of the Product Strategy team at the American Press Institute. This team works at the intersection of journalism and product to help news organizations navigate the needs of being effective, successful digital organizations. This new role is crucial as API enters a new era, seeking to better address the urgency of the multiple crises in journalism and local news, from the erosion of public trust in the media to the dwindling of business revenue. API’s main office is located in Arlington, Virginia. We will consider remote candidates anywhere in the continental United States. 

Trust Tip: As Twitter changes, think about where your audience is — and be there (Trusting News)

There has been a lot of discussion and questions asked about the future of Twitter and what it means for journalists. Trusting News offers five suggestions for newsrooms: think about where your audience is and be there; explain changes in posting and engagement; explain why you’re leaving a platform; make sure people know how to get in touch with you; and ask your audience where they prefer to get information. 


A Los Angeles Times project uses puppets to tackle mental health concepts (Poynter) 

As part of a project for the 2021-2022 Los Angeles Times Fellowship class, Salma Loum launched a news show for children featuring puppets. The four episodes are focused on mental health, and feature two puppets — a palm tree/journalist named Palmy Nomanderson and a parrot reporter named Lora Jacaranda. The first two episodes focused on anxiety and homelessness; the next two will cover fear and grief. “When we’re young, we start building all these skill sets that we put in our toolbox: to talk about mental health, having all this communication open to being able to express our feelings, things like that,” said Loum. 


How Africa Uncensored attracts top talent (International News Media Association) 

When John-Allan Namu founded Africa Uncensored seven years ago, his first big challenge was finding the right team. The investigative news outlet, based in Nairobi, couldn’t offer the same job security as established brands, so it created a training program that helped attract budding talent. To avoid other organizations hiring away their journalists, Namu allows his staffers to freelance for other outlets as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work at Africa Uncensored. While his team produces quality journalism, Namu says he struggles to get his reporters to promote their own work online. 


The alternative-media industrial complex (Axios)

Elon Musk’s decision to hand over thousands of internal Twitter documents to right-wing journalist Matt Taibbi has sparked a conversation about what constitutes journalism. Fans of Taibbi, who alleged on Twitter that the files prove that the social media company’s liberal bias caused them to limit distribution of a story about Hunter Biden in 2020, have presented his work as investigative journalism. But others argue that there wasn’t much investigating, as Musk freely handed over the documents. “The platforms supporting this new ecosystem will serve anyone, including those in power, who distrusts the mainstream media,” writes Sara Fischer. 

+ Related: Ron DeSantis is building his own media (Semafor) 


More newspapers consider a pivot to postal delivery to cut costs and ease headaches (Poynter) 

For newspapers struggling with rising delivery costs, sending papers through the mail may seem like an obvious choice. As print subscriptions have fallen, maintaining regular delivery routes has become unsustainable in many areas. But using the post office also has its issues, especially for daily papers, which readers expect to arrive promptly in the morning. And while using the postal service has historically been cheaper than maintaining a fleet of carriers, some are worried that rising postal rates could eventually make mailing newspapers cost-prohibitive.