Need to Know: January 12, 2022


You might have heard:  Darnella Frazier, the teen who filmed George Floyd’s murder, awarded a Pulitzer citation (The Washington Post) 

But did you know: Study finds that racial justice protests influenced local news reporting (Media, Inequality, and Change Center) 

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd inspired protests against police brutality and systemic racism across the country. That activism influenced the way local newspapers have since covered police and crime, leading to more inclusive sourcing and less dehumanizing language, according to a new study from the Media, Inequality and Change Center. But local crime stories still rely heavily on police narratives, often mentioning threatening behavior by suspects but not touching on violence by police officers. And coverage of police protests often focused more on threats to property than police violence against protestors. 

+ Noted: The Associated Press is starting its own NFT marketplace for photojournalism (The Verge); American Journalism Project announces grants to four nonprofit news organizations (American Journalism Project); Spotify shuts down its namesake podcast studio (The Verge); Center for Cooperative Media announces its 2022 Collaborative Journalism Summit in Chicago (Twitter, @CenterCoopMedia)


API welcomes Michael Bolden as its new executive director and CEO

The American Press Institute has named Michael D. Bolden as its new executive director and chief executive officer. Bolden, currently the director of culture and operations at the San Francisco Chronicle and a member of the newsroom’s executive leadership team, will begin in his new role with API by Feb. 14. “It is the privilege of my lifetime to join the enterprising team at the American Press Institute, who work at the forefront of guiding news organizations through constant change,” said Bolden. “In this time of misinformation and uncertainty, our communities, especially those that have been dispossessed and disregarded, need us more than ever. I look forward to partnering with our visionary board, our funders, newsrooms across the industry, and concerned people everywhere to meet the needs of our audiences, lift trust in the media and help journalism thrive.”

+ In a Medium post, Bolden, who has also served as a journalism lecturer at Stanford University and managing director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, called the API post “a chance to distill what I have learned over many years into this work and help the industry on a broad scale.” (Medium, Michael Bolden) 


How a Colorado alt-weekly shifted coverage of homelessness (The Whole Story) 

When the pandemic hit, Boulder Weekly began a series on homelessness solutions, with help from the economic mobility initiative at the Solutions Journalism Network. The series focused on successful programs from across the country, such as regulated urban campgrounds and policies that provide interim services for those awaiting homes. The series later became a podcast which was broadcast on local community radio. Contributing editor Angela K. Evans writes that while it’s unclear yet whether the paper’s work will have any impact on local funding, their stories were crucially successful in engaging “sources normally reluctant to speak to the press by explaining our solutions approach.” The series also built momentum to focus on more solutions-focused reporting; Boulder Weekly is now working on a series about affordable housing. 

+ The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is developing a “citizens agenda” ahead of the mayoral election, asking readers what they want to hear candidates talk about (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)  


The Italian website that went from gossip to award-winning scoops (The Guardian) 

In the early 2000s, Fanpage was an Italian Facebook group focused on general news, videos and gossip. But over the years, the news site pivoted to investigative journalism, exposing “corruption and criminality” among Italian elites. The team is staffed with reporters who can spend up to two years working undercover with hidden cameras, exposing scandals about the Catholic Church, politicians, businessmen and criminals. The outlet has appealed to a young audience who are not interested in day-to-day news coverage by expanding beyond its Facebook origins and investing heavily in its YouTube and TikTok presences. 


The pandemic has made people more science literate (Wired) 

Even as misinformation and conspiracy theories have spread during the pandemic, science literacy has spread throughout much of the population. Researchers have found that more people have an understanding of how science works, and that comprehension leads to more support for science funding and community health measures. Teenagers and children in particular have absorbed complex scientific ideas during the pandemic, from the contagiousness of the disease to how mRNA vaccines differ from other shots. And a higher percentage of Americans now have a “great deal” of trust in scientists than before the pandemic. 


Missouri governor’s attack on the media is ridiculous, but serious nonetheless (The Washington Post)  

When St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Josh Renaud discovered that Missouri’s publicly available web pages accidentally revealed the Social Security numbers of more than 100,000 public school teachers, he alerted the state. Instead of giving Renaud recognition for noticing the error, Gov. Mike Parson announced that he was opening an investigation into Renaud for “hacking.” The accusation “may seem like the comical folly of a thin-skinned, technologically clueless politician,”  writes William H. Freivogel, but the idea of a politician pursuing a journalist for reporting public information is a serious threat to First Amendment rights. “The case is a sign of what happens when the press becomes fair game as, in [former President] Trump’s words, the ‘enemy of the people.’” 


New research shows how news coverage influences countries’ emergency aid budgets (Nieman Lab) 

Media coverage can have a significant effect on the amount of humanitarian aid that is directed toward a crisis, new research shows. News attention leads to public pressure on elected officials and civil organizations, who in turn influence government agencies to distribute funding. The biggest shifts in public aid came after coverage from national — not international — news organizations of a sudden, unexpected crisis, which force government officials to act quickly. News coverage has less of an effect on budgeting for ongoing crises; in some cases, governments were more likely to give aid to those suffering from long-term catastrophes because they presume other countries will donate less due to the lack of news coverage.