Need to Know: January 18, 2022


You might have heard: Study finds that racial justice protests influenced local news reporting (Media, Inequality, and Change Center) 

But did you know: Major media outlets can’t stop describing police violence as ‘officer-involved’ incidents (HuffPost) 

In the summer of 2020, the Associated Press Stylebook recommended that journalists stop using “vague jargon” to describe police violence, and instead use clear and specific language. Nonetheless, media outlets continue to refer to shootings by police officers as passive “officer-involved” incidents, according to an analysis by The Garrison Project and HuffPost. While there was a dip in this type of language immediately after the new AP rule, the use of these phrases rose again in 2021, and the use of active language, such as “police shot” or “police killed,” was significantly lower than passive phrases. The term “officer-involved shooting” was introduced to newspapers after the Los Angeles Police Department began using it in the 1970s. 

+ Noted: DirecTV to sever ties with OAN and drop the right-wing conspiracy channel later this year (CNN); BBC’s license fee to be abolished in 2027 and funding frozen (The Guardian); Google misled publishers and advertisers, unredacted lawsuit alleges (Wall Street Journal); The Center for Community Media announces the Black Media Product Strategy program, a new initiative to preserve, sustain, and grow Black media (Twitter, @NewmarkJPlus) 


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It’s time for a new contract between journalists and public contributors: Here’s a proposed 11 point-code of conduct (Reuters Institute) 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, stories about the devastation of COVID-19 have been a staple in the news media. Public contributors — members of the general public who are sharing personal tales with journalists — are often unprepared for “the processes and emotions of being part of the news cycle,” writes Alex Murray. He suggests a code to dictate discussions between journalists and these contributors to ensure trust and transparency. This contract would include explaining the news-making process to interviewees, being careful to respect their space and needs, and giving advice on how to handle being in the public eye. 


How British newspapers are taking advantage of print and digital advertising spaces (International News Media Association) 

Newspapers in the U.K. have put together high-quality multimedia campaigns that have attracted big advertisers who are looking for something more effective than programmatic digital advertising, writes Lewis Boulton. The Sun devoted both its homepage and the front page of its print paper to a dramatic ad for a digital streaming service. The Evening Standard’s ads for the Movember campaign were striking in black and white both online and offline, and were paired with digital paid content. Several papers have also worked together to distribute consistent health information related to COVID-19.  


Researchers debate how best to counter false narratives — and racial stereotypes — in the Latinx community (The New Yorker) 

Disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines has been prominent on Spanish-language closed social networks like WhatsApp, but much of the coverage of this misinformation implies that the Latinx community is “more gullible than the rest of the country,” writes Graciela Mochkofsky. This can, in turn, lead to the idea “that an ‘external’ intervention is needed to rescue these communities,” she writes. Instead of fact-checkers trying to monitor discourse on closed networks, she says a more effective tool for those fighting disinformation is to distribute good information on these platforms and build a level of trust with the community. 

+ Related: Conservatives with “low levels of conscientiousness and an appetite for chaos” are most likely to spread fake news (Politico) 


Entrepreneurial spirit is sweeping the journalism industry. Too bad the promotional language is so clichéd. (Politico) 

Many journalism start-ups are full of more “well-grooved cliches” than actual new ideas, says Jack Shafer. Grid News, a new publication that promises to provide something other than “updates on relentless crises,” is similar to the premise behind Vox Cards, one of the core ideas behind Vox when it launched in 2014. Another new entry, Puck News, says it is “a brand focused on the inside conversation,” while Ben Smith and Justin Smith’s new unnamed media outlet will be different than the traditional editorial institutions that they say have become “almost paralyzed.” Shafer argues that these publications rarely invent anything new or live up to their own hype. 

+ Related: Quiz! Which new media company with an innovative solution for fixing the news industry said this? (Defector) 


ABC News is still hiding from its botched COVID story (Press Run) 

Last week, Good Morning America ran an interview with CDC head Rochelle Walensky which was edited in a way that gave the incorrect impression that she said 75% of all COVID deaths occurred in people with at least four comorbidities. (She actually said that 75% of fully vaccinated people who died of COVID suffered from such comorbidities.) Anti-vaxxers and others who have downplayed the pandemic seized on the incorrect clip, writes Eric Boehlert, and spread it so widely that Twitter eventually blocked it from being shared. But ABC News has not apologized for the mistake, giving the impression that “news outlets are more committed to riding out controversies instead of addressing them.”