Need to Know: February 7, 2022

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism 


You might have heard: During the last few years, journalism organizations have been seeking revenue from new technology, like NFTs (Vanity Fair)

But did you know: Public media organizations look to cryptocurrency as new option for donors (Current)

In a bid to expand their sources of funding, some public radio and TV stations are accepting donations in cryptocurrency. In a Pew Research Center survey, just 16% of respondents said they had invested in, traded, or owned cryptocurrency, but other research suggests cryptocurrency donors are more generous and younger than average nonprofit donors. “Not only do we think it will engage a younger audience, but it might encourage a larger gift rather than a cash gift,” said Troy Davis, development director for North Dakota’s Prairie Public, which plans to accept cryptocurrency in the future.

+ Noted: California state senators propose public fund for journalism (The Hill); Google, Meta, and Amazon are on track to absorb more than half of all ad money in 2022 (Digiday); A cyberattack affecting The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other publications is believed to be linked to China (The Wall Street Journal)


Journalism managers are burned out. Is it time for a work redesign?

Journalism has a long history of inducing stress and burnout in workers. Here are several suggestions for improving newsroom workflows and workloads so that the jobs are more sustainable — and the people in them healthier and happier. “Local journalism can’t be saved on the backs of overworked leaders whose careers are breaking them,” writes Jane Elizabeth. “It’s time to create a change in the bad bones in journalism’s historic work structure.”


How journalists can build trust with their sources (International Journalists’ Network)

Trust between journalists and their sources leads to better information and news stories, says freelance reporter Jennifer Sizeland, and it’s important to consider those relationships leading up to publication. If the angle of the story changes after first speaking with a source, Sizeland suggests telling them about the shift so that they aren’t blindsided. For stories that take longer, she also recommends checking in with sources for developments and to see how they’re doing. “Even though you have creative control,” Sizeland writes, “it’s important to realize that if a story affects their life they may be making themselves vulnerable by speaking to you.”

+ The Arizona Republic created an internal tracker to log incidents of harassment and intimidation against its journalists (Source)


How reputation firms target news sites to clean up their clients’ digital pasts (Rest of World)

Reputation management companies like the Spanish firm Eliminalia remove or obscure articles from the internet by alleging false copyright claims and using fake legal notices, as detailed in an investigation from Rest of World. Documents viewed by Rest of World listed thousands of Eliminalia’s clients, including people across the world who have been accused of tax avoidance, drug trafficking, and other crimes. Its most frequent clients appeared to be politicians and businesspeople seeking to remove articles where they are under scrutiny. From 2015 to 2019, the company targeted 17,000 URLs for its clients, charging 2,500 euros or $2,800 for each link that was removed or de-indexed from search engine results.


How salary transparency can improve the hiring process and retention (Twitter, @jayomiko)

Jayo Miko Macasaquit, The 19th’s chief people officer, says that when employers don’t share how pay decisions are made, they risk losing staff to organizations that offer transparency and use fairer, data-driven hiring processes. Some hiring managers may be reluctant to practice salary transparency to “avoid the chaos” of staff discovering a new hire’s pay, which Macasaquit says is a moot issue if staff know they’re being paid fairly. When staffers discover they’ve been lowballed, “don’t be surprised when they lowball their effort,” Macasaquit says. “This is one of the first impressions you’re going to make and you’re using it to deepen that chasm of mistrust.”

+ Related: The 19th gives its new hires “user guides” that share preferences for things like how they work best, what motivates them, and communication styles (Twitter, @jazzmyth)


Getting personal about climate change made me a better reporter (Los Angeles Times)

While covering energy for the Los Angeles Times, Sammy Roth has written about his own climate despair, how he copes with it, and his hope for solutions. Rather than using a neutral “newspaper voice” while covering climate change, Roth writes that journalists “need to get comfortable decrying the horrors of the climate crisis and demanding solutions.” He says that climate coverage has a responsibility to report stories that prompt action through accountability journalism and plain language. “Anyone who reads my stories knows I’m biased toward climate solutions, and my reporting flows from that,” Roth writes, adding that his transparency on his viewpoints has led readers to become subscribers.

+ Related: How The Boston Globe is incorporating climate coverage across its newsroom (World Association of News Publishers)


Is there a market for saving local news? (The New Yorker)

A 2020 study on news deserts from the University of North Carolina found that during the past 15 years, the United States lost 2,100 newspapers, a decline that has been linked to increased government corruption and less civic engagement. Clare Malone writes that “not every place can sustain an outlet without major, and somewhat risky, investment,” which begs the question of which communities will be left with little or no local news. One solution has been opening digital news outlets around the country, an effort that has favored metropolitan areas and potentially neglected audiences in rural and underserved communities.