Need to Know: Jan. 21, 2021


You might have heard: Some media critics have suggested the press have a “cold-turkey” breakup with former President Trump (The Washington Post)

But did you know: Why ignoring Trump post-Presidency could backfire (Poynter)

A wholesale ban on including Trump’s statements in news stories could reinforce the belief among his supporters that he was the victim of unfair media coverage, writes Kelly McBride. But there are tactics for covering Trump wisely in the aftermath of his departure from the White House. Every story that quotes Trump should state the journalistic mission, McBride suggests: “We’re quoting Trump because __.” This can force news outlets to reconsider when they’re publishing mainly for the outrage factor. In the same vein, news outlets should be wary of coverage instigated solely by Trump. Finally, McBride says, journalists should avoid quoting him in headlines.

+ Noted: Election SOS is hosting a free webinar today at 1 p.m. ET on “journalism and accountability after the Capitol riots” (Eventbrite)


How collaborating helped two Idaho publishers engage Latino audiences

Sami Edge, a reporter for Idaho Education News and an API 2019-20 Community Listening Fellow, had an ambitious project in mind: Hold listening sessions with Latino students and their families to understand their thoughts on the state’s education system, and then build a reporting series based on their input. But organizing the listening sessions was daunting. So Edge paired up with Nicole Foy, an investigative reporter for the Idaho Statesman who covers Latino affairs and had already built relationships with Latino communities across the state. Together they launched the Latino Listening Project; holding in-person and virtual events with students and other stakeholders, establishing a Spanish-language text service for parents, hosting Facebook Live Q&As, publishing six stories, and enabling students to speak directly with Idaho Gov. Brad Little about education policies.


Keeping injustice the focus across all beats (Digiday)

Going into 2021, many local publishers say they will focus on how dramatic national stories, like social and racial injustice, play out at the local level. While Gannett has pledged to hire or reassign 60 editorial positions to the coverage of race and equality, few small publishers can afford an investment like that. The Hartford Courant’s publisher and editor-in-chief Andrew Julien says that rather than hiring a team of reporters, focusing on injustice has become “a lens through which we have to evaluate the entirety of our coverage.” To do that, he said all stories in the daily editorial budget have to include a line about how the story contextualizes the topic of injustice to ensure it is top of mind for reporters.

+ Gather, a network of community-minded journalists, releases a guide to researching and listening to a community (Gather)


Why some publishers are launching standalone audio platforms (Twipe)

Last fall a handful of European publishers began releasing their own audio platforms, including the Netherlands’ NRC and De Correspondent. De Correspondent marketed the platform to its audience by telling them they could be masters of their own “audio destiny” and avoid the privacy concerns that come with third-party platforms. It also explained the risk relying on other platforms brings for publishers. NRC’s platform carries its own content as well as podcasts from other publishers, and is beginning to test subscriber-only audio content.


Setting goals for work in 2021: Is it worth the trouble? (Welcome to the Jungle)

With so much disruption in the year behind and uncertainty in the year ahead, it may seem pointless to set goals for 2021, writes Penelope Jones. But we only need to rethink the goals we’re setting — arbitrary, narrowly defined goals could be setting us up to fail in the year ahead. Instead, we should be asking “What did I learn in 2020 that changed how I think about work and that will help define my relationship with work in this next phase?” If work-life balance is more important to you than you had previously realized, make balance a theme for 2021 instead of trying to hit an arbitrary list of punishing targets, Jones says.


‘The media had a role to play in the rise of Trump. It’s time to hold ourselves accountable.’ (The Washington Post)

By giving so much oxygen to former President Trump’s racism and lies, writes Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah, the media played a key role not only in his rise to power, but the emboldenment of white supremacist groups. Yet “There have been no major efforts as an industry to systematically examine the role we played in America’s journey to the brink … I am reminded that, in America, White racism against minorities is titillating, not disqualifying — because it is profitable.” The media can’t rest in complacency with the election of President Biden, Attiah adds, but continue with an agenda of “uncompromising antiracism.”


TV news outlets overrepresent extreme partisans in Congress (Journalist’s Resource)

Major network and cable TV news outlets have given the most airtime to members of Congress with the most extreme views, a new study has found, which gives the perception Congress is more polarized than it actually is and could continue incentivizing extreme politics. “Just as [journalists] might strive to ensure that they select members who are representative in terms of race, ethnicity, geography, and gender, they should also be mindful of trying to represent the range of views on either side of the aisle,” said Johanna Dunaway, a co-author of the study. When reporting on members of Congress, include local context such as what the House member or U.S. senator has done for voters back home, added Joshua P. Darr, another author of the study. Darr recommended that national TV news programs should feature local journalists to report out their stories.