Need to Know: Feb. 12, 2020


You might have heard: In Houston, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office praises the Houston Chronicle’s decision to longer post mugshot galleries. “I’m hopeful that other media outlets and law enforcement agencies will follow your lead and rethink the practice of publicly shaming arrested people who haven’t been convicted of a crime,” wrote spokesman Jason Spencer. (Twitter, @JSpencer_HCSO)

But did you know: More newsrooms are rethinking the mugshot (The Marshall Project)

Online mugshot galleries once drew readers like a magnet, generating page views and ad dollars for newspapers. But now, more publishers are beginning to consider the impact of mugshots on the subjects’ lives, the distorted view mugshot galleries can give readers of crime in their area, and the negative stereotypes they can perpetuate. One after the other, newsrooms are announcing their intention not to post mugshots of people who have been arrested but not convicted, and who are still presumed innocent under law (although some are making public safety exceptions).

+ Noted: Defense Department proposes cutting funding to long-running military newspaper Stars and Stripes (CNN); Siri will now answer your election questions (TechCrunch); Deadline to apply for Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media is Friday, Feb. 14 (Poynter)


Trust Tip: Share your history, mission and values (Trusting News)

Sharing your mission and values doesn’t simply mean making sweeping statements like “holding power to account” or “finding the truth,” writes Lynn Walsh. It means breaking down those values to show how they figure in day-to-day editorial decisions. This week’s edition of Trust Tips offers examples of strong mission and values statements from two newsrooms. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


How VTDigger created self-service portals to better connect its readers and boost revenue (Lenfest Institute)

In early 2019, armed with a $50,000 grant from the Lenfest Institute, VTDigger created self-serve portals for obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, press releases and real estate listings. The self-service model not only frees up the staff’s time, it should also bring in some revenue — in 2020, obits and press releases will be published for a fee. VTDigger also plans to launch a classified ads section that will focus especially on jobs, as hiring has proven to be a challenge in the state and posting jobs in print papers is increasingly expensive and ineffective.

+ A crowdsourced look at the email service providers used by various publishers


Lebanon’s financial crisis leaves its envied media industry in freefall (The Guardian)

In the past three months, a long-predicted financial collapse has threatened the survival of Lebanese media, once seen as the most robust in the region. Long-running newspapers and radio stations have closed or cut back, sending a wave of journalists to look abroad for opportunities. “We are facing an unprecedented media crisis in Lebanon,” said Nabil Bou Monsef, deputy editor-in-chief of An-Nahar newspaper. “Beirut has always been the hub for foreign and regional journalists to reside in for its strategic location and freedom of speech … It is unacceptable that this financial crisis is crushing almost 85 years of journalism,” since the country’s post-war independence.

+ Patreon is adding new features for creators in Europe (The Verge); No, Rupert Murdoch’s daughter is not a front-runner to become the next director-general of the BBC (The Guardian)


Conservatives and liberals see the world as zero-sum — when it suits them (Journalist’s Resource)

A new study shows that conservatives and liberals often think in zero-sum terms — a black-and-white view of the world where there are only winners and losers. In the U.S., political leaders on both sides have been known to push zero-sum narratives when it suits their agenda. The media tends to reflect those narratives, which has a polarizing impact on audiences. Doing more nuanced reporting, and avoiding a zero-sum framing of policy issues, could reverse that effect. “Zero-sum rhetoric blinds us to solutions,” says the study’s co-author Shai Davidai. “It’s much easier to say, ‘It’s us versus them,’ than thinking, ‘It’s us and them.’”


Google is paying The Young Turks to launch a YouTube course on digital-first local news (Axios)

The Young Turks, one the largest progressive digital publishers on YouTube, is receiving funding from Google to create the “TYT Academy.” The academy will have two course tracks: journalism tactics and responsibilities, and best practices for online video production across a variety of platforms. However, the fact that TYT is clearly partisan is raising eyebrows. “Google giving money to The Young Turks to train community reporters … where is the line going in terms of independent vs party political?” wrote Guardian columnist Emily Bell. CJR’s Jon Allsop added, “Make that ‘a partisan publisher whose creator is currently running for Congress’ and it’s stranger still.”


Why the podcast gold rush is slowing down for some publishers (Digiday)

Facing increased competition for listeners and ad dollars, smaller publishers that have been experimenting with podcasting are beginning to rethink their investment, writes Max Willens. A source at McClatchy, for example, said the publisher had to dissuade one of its newspapers from making a show in the style of The New York Times’s “The Daily” because it would have required extensive resources. Podcasting used to be relatively low-cost in terms of production — but the increasingly crowded landscape has upped quality standards. “It’s no longer just, ‘Grab a mic and interview some people,’” said Stephanie Beran Sanderson, director of strategy at the audio agency Wordsworth & Booth. “The interview was a go-to idea because it’s so simple. But the problem with that is that [format] is incredibly saturated.”

+ Related: Luminary’s global expansion could heat up the podcast subscription wars (Axios); Spotify pays $250 million for Ringer in podcasting drive (Bloomberg)