Need to Know: Jan. 27, 2020

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


You might have heard: Last year, the U.S. was ranked as a ‘problematic’ place for journalists (NPR)

But did you know: After contentious interview, Pompeo publicly accuses NPR journalist of lying to him (NPR)

Without providing evidence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly of lying to him twice while setting up a Friday interview that ended with the official berating the journalist in an expletive-laced conversation that she was prevented from recording. NPR played the full interview, and Kelly said on air that afterward, Pompeo summoned her to his private quarters, where he shouted at her and asked her to identify Ukraine on an unlabeled map. Pompeo later said in a statement that the conversation was off the record. However, during Kelly’s comments on the meeting, she maintained that one of his aides “did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed.”

+ Related: NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik said on Twitter: “Public officials don’t have to like reporters. They should respect our tens of millions of listeners & readers though – most of whom are US citizens they serve. Seeking to intimidate journalists doing their duty doesn’t serve the public one bit.” (Twitter, @davidfolkenflik)

+ Noted: The new Gannett now owns about 20 percent of all American daily newspapers (Nieman Lab); Report highlights a partisan divide in the news sources that Americans trust (Pew Research Center); ABC News to bolster streaming service with live programming (Associated Press); The BBC and actress Angelina Jolie are working on a show for teenagers that will focus on news literacy and how journalism is made (Press Gazette)


How the press and public can find common purpose

Journalism’s future depends on how Americans view its contribution to democracy and their communities. Our survey, conducted in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, examined several data points around this issue, including how Americans feel about the accountability role of the press and their own ability to question political leaders and improve their communities.  


Newspapers chase philanthropic grants to fill coverage gaps (Digiday)

As for-profit publications dip into revenue typically associated with nonprofit journalism, some media companies are increasing their commitment to this approach by creating positions dedicated to fundraising. Two months ago, McClatchy hired a community funding director, who will pursue funding for eight news labs and teach newsrooms how to raise funds for reporting projects from local philanthropies. At the Arizona Daily Star, editor Jill Jorden Spitz took the reins and began fundraising for reporting projects for her newsroom in 2016. “This felt like a way we could help bring money in, both to keep going but also [because] there was no way we could fund new positions or new projects,” she said.

+ Earlier: How, where and when to apply for journalism grant funding (News Media Alliance); How foundation funding impacts journalism (Media and Communication)

+ With a community fair, California’s CapRadio tests a new approach to local reporting (Current)


India restores some internet access in Kashmir after long shutdown (The New York Times)

On Saturday, the Indian government partially restored the internet in Kashmir, which has faced the world’s longest internet shutdown in a democracy since the communications blackout first began last August. Access to 301 websites was returned, including some international news sites, like The New York Times. However, many Indian publications and social media remain blocked, and foreign journalists also have been barred from visiting Kashmir. India undergoes more internet shutdowns than any other country in the world, with one legal advocacy group reporting 134 shutdowns just last year.

+ Turkish press authority cancels hundreds of journalists’ press cards (International Federation of Journalists); Malaysian rights group sues Singapore minister over ‘fake news’ directive (Reuters)


Google is backtracking on its controversial desktop search results redesign (The Verge)

This month, Google unveiled a new design for search results that makes advertisements appear deceptively similar to other information on the page. The change was perhaps the most dramatic in a long line of design choices that made paid content increasingly difficult to identify on the search engine.  On Friday, Google announced plans to rework the design, which the company said was an effort to align the appearances of mobile and desktop search.


The truth behind filter bubbles: Bursting some myths (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)

Reuters Institute research shows that out of those who get news online, two-thirds find it through a “side door,” like search engines, social media and other services that use algorithms. This could enable filter bubbles that isolate us from ideas we don’t agree with, thanks to personalized, algorithm-driven content. At the same time, Reuters researchers also found that when people use social media, they are exposed to more journalism and wind up consuming news from more sources than they would otherwise. Richard Fletcher writes that focusing on filter bubbles may distract us from deeper causes of polarization and could obscure other impacts from algorithms.


This New Hampshire bar will become a pop-up newsroom for the 2020 primary (Poynter)

One Manchester hotel is the choice spot for covering New Hampshire’s primaries, but DigBoston editor Chris Faraone said the space “is completely partitioned off for all the bigs.” So Faraone and the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ), where he is editorial director, came up with a solution during the 2016 primaries: Hole up in a bar across the street from the hotel with a tribe of fellow independent journalists. Next month, more than 20 reporters with BINJ will cover the Democratic Primary from the Shashkeen Pub’s unofficial newsroom, where the organization will also host primary-fueled events.

+ Earlier: Faraone explained how BINJ does pop-up newsrooms to get closer to its audiences

+ New media outlet covering the intersection of women and politics launches as 2020 election kicks off (The Washington Post)