Need to Know: February 9, 2021


You might have heard: Local news is more trusted than national news (Knight Foundation) 

But did you know: Biden is making a heavily local media push for his coronavirus rescue package (The Washington Post) 

As President Biden moves forward with his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package, his team is turning to local media outlets to discuss and promote the bill, which has broad public support but faces resistance from Republican lawmakers. Media interviews have included specialized publications like Parents Magazine, Spanish-language outlets and dozens of local news outlets. His team cited research that local news outlets are more trusted than national outlets, saying that they hope to “reach communities where they are.” The Washington Post reports that senior administration officials and allies have done more than 30 local television interviews, alongside 100 national television, radio and podcast interviews. 

+ Noted: WordPress VIP acquiring content analytics company (Axios); Louisiana attorney general sues The Advocate and The Times-Picayune reporter over public-records request (The Advocate); USA Today launches daily texting briefs (Twitter, @USATODAY)  


Thank you to these 2020 collaborators for strengthening journalism 

API is grateful to have worked with a broad group of talented and thoughtful collaborators in 2020, and we wanted to take a moment to thank them for their hard work and commitment to advancing audience-centered journalism. “If fact-based journalism is to survive and serve democracy, it will owe much to the expertise, dedication, insight, leadership and passion of those people like these,” writes Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel.


Vaccine story translation project reaches marginalized communities in New Jersey (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media) 

With states across the country struggling with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, communities of color are lagging behind white Americans in vaccination rates. In December, the Center for Cooperative Media and teamed up to translate vaccine-related content for use by ethnic media outlets across the state. The story focused on the status of the vaccine rollout, who is eligible for the vaccine and how an eligible person can sign up for an appointment. By the end of January, the story was translated into nine languages, including Spanish, Korean and Turkish, and ethnic media outlets said that they received feedback from residents requesting more information about the vaccine rollout. 

+ Earlier: 7 ways to get your COVID-19 reporting to those who need it (American Press Institute)


How a Spanish ‘army for truth’ is tackling misinformation online (Reuters Institute) 

In a new report, Rebecca Skippage of the BBC investigates how public service media around the world is fighting misinformation. She argues that the “top down” model of many public service broadcasters is insufficient to battle false information that is spread user-to-user online. In Spain, fact-checking outlet Maldita has taken a proactive approach to debunking falsehoods, encouraging readers to send in tips about possible disinformation, then pushing their resulting fact-checks on their own website and social media platforms as well as to television and radio partners. The site also hosts live Q&As and regularly posts media literacy pieces. Maldita has attracted a multigenerational audience, including a number of users over 55 who enjoy its upbeat, practical style.

+ Earlier: How Maldita’s light-hearted survey with informal language and emojis inspired over 2500 people to offer their skills and time to help with fact-checking (Engaged Journalism Accelerator)


Facebook says it plans to remove posts with false vaccine claims (The New York Times)

Facebook has announced that it will remove all posts with false vaccine claims, including assertions that vaccines cause autism. The platform has updated its policies many times during the pandemic, banning false ads about vaccines in October and removing debunked health posts in December. The new move will not just target misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, but all false claims about vaccines. Unlike past regulation, these rules target unpaid posts on personal pages and in groups in particular. The change comes after Facebook’s oversight board found that its standards for health-related misinformation were “inappropriately vague.”

+ Mark Cuban is co-founding a podcast app where hosts can talk to fans live and monetize their conversations (The Verge)


‘Australian media code is thoughtful, brave and might save journalism’ (Toronto Star) 

David Chavern of the News Media Alliance writes that Australia’s proposed code, which would charge Google and Facebook for using news content, has the potential to create a sustainable model for professional journalism. He compares this move with existing laws that require writers of music to receive royalties for performances of their work, or the ability of broadcasters to recoup fees from cable companies when airing old television shows. Because the tech companies receive a huge percentage of the advertising revenue related to every article, while also collecting valuable data about readers, Chavern argues that it is nearly impossible for online news outlets to be fairly compensated for their work without government intervention. 


Out of the ashes left by Alden Global Capital, a community saves its news (Institute for Nonprofit News)

In 2020, Alden Global Capital bought The Eden Prairie News, a local newspaper covering the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. Two months later, the paper closed. Since then, dozens of volunteers have created Eden Prairie Local News, an online nonprofit news source covering the region. Volunteers are producing the news site, serving on its board and building community support, all while maintaining their day jobs. The goal, with the help of donors and advertisers, is to switch from an all-volunteer model to a hybrid team led by paid staffers.