Need to Know: January 21, 2022


Across the country, investors and philanthropists were betting big on nonprofit news. In Chicago, the board of public radio station WBEZ approved the acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times, a big step towards creating one of the country’s largest nonprofit news outlets. In Houston, philanthropists have invested more than $20 million in a brand-new newsroom, which will focus on helping underserved communities navigate the city’s bureaucracy. Nonprofit network States Newsroom announced the launch of its latest state-capital news outlet, The Nebraska Examiner, while the tech-focused nonprofit The Markup reported $6.8 million in revenue in 2021. (Chicago Sun-Times, Columbia Journalism Review, 3NewsNow, Axios) 


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

Distrust in political, media and business leaders sweeps the globe. Two-thirds (67%) of people around the world think that journalists are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations,” according to Edelman’s new 2022 global “Trust Barometer,” a survey of 35,000 respondents across 28 countries. They also believe that the media is sensationalizing the news for financial reasons. (Axios) 

‘We’ve spent two years studying readers’ and listeners’ needs of The Atlantic.’ Emily Goligoski, executive director of the audience research team, explains how editors reflect on why subscribers turn to The Atlantic before they build new products and reach out to prospective readers. (Medium, Building the Atlantic)  

It’s time for a new contract between journalists and public contributors. Here’s a proposed 11-point code of conduct. The rules are designed to help those who contribute their stories to the media, mostly in the form of interviews with journalists. Tenets for journalists include actively affirming consent, walking interviewees through the news-making process and giving advice about the possible impacts of being featured in the news. (The Reuters Institute)   


Keeping opinion local: The benefits of cutting national politics from opinion sections

After a local newspaper dropped national politics from its opinion section, researchers found that polarization in the community spread more slowly. The newspaper also experienced a surge in letters to the editor from local contributors on local topics, including transportation, arts and culture, and online readership of the opinion section doubled. We spoke with one of the researchers about the implications of the study and considerations for other news outlets that are considering abandoning national opinion content. 


+ The Capital Gazette’s reporters were called journalism heroes. Then the buyouts came. (The Washington Post) 

+ ​Eastern Europe tests new forms of media censorship: Serbia, Poland and Hungary are deploying highly effective tools to skew public opinion (The New York Times) 

+ Shams vs. the ‘Woj bomb’: Sports reporters are duking it out for scoops on Twitter, and their value is soaring (CNBC)

+ How secure are journalists’ favorite transcription tools? (Freedom of the Press Foundation)