Need to Know: Jan. 27, 2021


You might have heard: Yesterday Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron announced his intention to retire at the end of February (Washington Post)

But did you know: Many of the biggest news outlets in the U.S. are — or will be — looking for new leadership (Axios)

In addition to The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, HuffPost and Wired are all looking for new editors, and soon The New York Times will be, too. TV newsrooms including NBC and Fox have also experienced recent leadership shakeups, and CNN may be looking to replace Jeff Zucker soon. “The new hires will reflect a new generation — one that’s addicted to technology, demands accountability and expects diversity to be a priority,” writes Sara Fischer. The change in news leadership — with more women, minorities and technologists coming to the fore — comes as trust in traditional media is at an all-time low in America.

+ Noted: Applications to become a Report for America corps member are due Sunday (Report for America)


Trust Tip: Build news literacy into your journalism (Trusting News)

Journalists don’t just have to put accurate information out into the world and hope their audiences recognize it as such. They can do things to help readers navigate information online, like being more transparent about their reporting process and how they verify information; clearly distinguishing between news and opinion content (especially on social media); and giving readers tips — like this or this — to decipher good information from bad information. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.

+ Earlier: How to build news literacy elements into nine story types (American Press Institute)


If you cite a preprint study, tell your audience it hasn’t been peer-reviewed (Journalist’s Resource)

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an explosion in related preprint studies — studies that are circulated in online medical communities before undergoing peer review. These studies are frequently cited by news outlets; however, journalists often neglect to mention that their findings are preliminary and have not yet been evaluated by independent researchers (the process of peer review). Journalists should be very clear when citing preprint studies, describing them as “articles that have not yet been through peer review,” says researcher Alice Fleerackers, and they should be more discerning about reporting on them in the first place.


Why Denmark’s biggest news site cut reliance on Google’s tech (Digiday)

Three weeks ago, Ekstra Bladet, Denmark’s biggest news site with 500 million page views per month, said goodbye to Google Analytics in favor of a homegrown alternative called Longboat. The breakup has immediate benefits: Ekstra Bladet is now in full control of the entire data flow around its site, meaning execs can wrangle it all much easier. Plus, “Having full ownership over our data is giving us leverage with major advertisers who like the fact that we’re not reliant on another vendor when it comes to our web analytics and can offer complete transparency,” said Thomas Lue Lytzen, head of product development and insights for ad sales and tech. German publisher Axel Springer transitioned its ad tech stack from Google to AppNexus two years ago, and a senior executive said he hoped the move showed others that “there is some life and independence around Google technology.”


How a project is training incarcerated people to become journalists (Poynter)

The Prison Journalism Project launched in 2020 amid a pandemic that was — and continues — threatening incarcerated people. Its participants, who serve as correspondents in prisons, are trained in journalistic practices and occasionally have their work published in mainstream publications. Marcus Henderson, who is incarcerated, the editor-in-chief of the San Quentin News and an editorial associate at the Prison Journalism Project, says that journalism training is “rehabilitating” for his peers, giving them a sense of agency and the power to reach people beyond prison walls.


How much do we need to know about domestic terrorists? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Comparing the coverage of serious crimes in the United States to similar coverage in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy, researchers found extremely different approaches. In the Netherlands, for example, most mainstream news outlets don’t identify the people charged, or in some cases convicted, of serious crimes, considering it unethical for reasons like the accused’s family, who might be innocent and would be harmed through recognition, and in the case the individual is eventually able to rejoin society once they have paid for the crime. Americans, meanwhile, put a greater value on transparency and the public’s right to know. While one approach isn’t necessarily better or more ethical, writes Maggie Jones Patterson, no journalistic practice should be written in stone, and they’re always worth reexamination.


Newsletters are growing up and leaving the coop (Axios)

After journalists began flocking to the newsletter platform Substack last year, a handful are finding success — so much so that they’re beginning to leave Substack to build their own full-fledged media companies. That list includes Defector Media, A Media Operator, The Generalist, and Fintech Today. Meanwhile they’re experimenting with how newsletter businesses are structured and how their writers are compensated. One fledgling company, Every (formerly Everything Bundle), keeps writers anonymous but lets them eventually build their own newsletters as part of the bundle for paying subscribers.