Need to Know: January 22, 2021


You might have heard: Trump’s “enemy of the people” smear will have long-lasting effects (CNN) 

But did you know: Fewer than half of Americans now say they trust traditional media (Axios)

According to a new study from Edelman, only 46% of Americans say they trust traditional media. That’s down from 59% in 2018. Most Americans (56%) agreed that the press is “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations,” while 58% think that most news outlets are more concerned with pushing “an ideology or political position than with informing the public.” Numbers for trust declined for both Democrats and Republicans between the November election and December, with a 3-point drop for Biden voters and a 15-point drop for Trump voters. But those numbers are echoed around the world, and, increasingly, distrust of the media is becoming “an article of faith” that is core to people’s personal identity.

+ Earlier: Journalists, let’s talk about the 90% of Republicans who don’t trust us (Trusting News)

+ Noted: Head of VOA steps down following request from President Biden (VOA); International Fact-Checking Network nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (Poynter); Facebook Oversight Board accepts case on former President Trump’s indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram (Oversight Board)


Make the transition from advertising to reader revenue

In our report “What it takes to shift a news organization to reader revenue,” we examine the critical elements that must be in place to build and maintain a successful subscription program. Find out what you’re doing — or not doing — that could be hindering reader revenue.


How Grist is broadening its reach by focusing on the intersectionality of climate change (The Lenfest Institute)

Grist, the online-only publication focused on climate change, began in 1999, before climate change was considered a mainstream issue. Now, the publication is expanding its remit to look at how climate change intersects with other issues like immigration, race and the economy. To build its audience, Grist is targeting both readers whose primary focus is the environment with deeper coverage of climate issues, while attracting new “climate curious” readers by broadening the scope of its coverage. The outlet is also using partnerships, such as a video-sharing deal with The Weather Channel and co-publishing stories with the Miami Herald, to bring in a third audience that is not normally concerned about the environment but now sees how climate issues affect their community.

+ Journalism educators: These assignments can help students produce journalism with their community in mind (Journalism + Design)


The Engaged Journalism in Europe database presents a list of community-driven news organizations (Engaged Journalism Accelerator)

The Engaged Journalism Accelerator cultivates audience-centered journalism throughout Europe by connecting and supporting like-minded journalists. Its initial research found that many community-oriented news outlets weren’t aware of others doing similar work, sometimes even in their own city or country. The Engaged Journalism in Europe database lists news outlets from across Europe that involve their audience in at least one of five areas: ownership, reporting, distribution, impact or revenue. Information about each outlet include its revenue streams, costs for memberships or subscriptions and what role the community plays in the organization.

+ Google inks agreement in France on paying publishers for news reuse (TechCrunch)


Leaders: Never forget your power to make someone’s day (National Press Club Journalism Institute)

For many people, it doesn’t occur to them to compliment a colleague, employee or boss on their work. But Jill Geisler, Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago, says it’s important for managers in particular to show appreciation and praise for a job well done. When giving someone a big assignment, say directly that you believe in their ability to succeed. Take the time to write personalized recommendations for employees, and reach out to incoming employees to let them know how much you value their move to your team. When working remotely, it’s even more important for bosses to reach out with positivity. “There’s rarely a bad time to share a good message,” Geisler said. “If you think it, say it.” 


‘If voters aren’t listening, then what are we doing here?’: Iowa political site goes on hiatus (Columbia Journalism Review)

Pat Rynard started the left-leaning political website Iowa Starting Line in 2015 in hopes of balancing the online political coverage in the state. But in early January, the site went on hiatus, with Rynard saying that he felt like the journalism he was doing wasn’t having an impact. He said important journalism, such as a story uncovering massive failure during the pandemic, didn’t seem to change anything. And Rynard says his initial strategy, to write stories that would get picked up by larger outlets, no longer felt like it was getting the news to the people. “Now my concern is, if voters aren’t even reading it or watching those things, then you’ve got to figure out something different,” Rynard said. While he says he doesn’t have an answer, he thinks local news outlets need “a lot of new and more imaginative thinking.”


In New Hampshire, two foundations have invested in solutions-driven reporting to support local newsrooms (Medium, The Whole Story)

While more news organizations turn to philanthropy for funding, two New Hampshire foundations — the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation — took the initiative themselves to support solutions journalism in the state. The groups provided grants ranging from $5,000 to $130,000 to the New Hampshire Union Leader, The Laconia Daily Sun and the Granite State News Collaborative, covering all salaries and administrative costs for each project. For the Endowment for Health, solutions journalism offered a way to raise awareness about key issues surrounding aging without simply rehashing old problems. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation was looking to fight misconceptions surrounding the opioid epidemic, and highlight areas of progress. Both have seen that solutions journalism has impacted community awareness of public health issues.

+ Earlier: How the pandemic is reshaping grantmaking and what news organizations should know (American Press Institute)


+ 23 female political reporters go on the record about what it was really like covering Trump’s America (Elle)

+ “Disinformation can be a very lucrative business, especially if you’re good at it”: An interview with Harvard’s Joan Donovan (The Washington Post)

+ Bitcoin bull market sparks boom in crypto news media (Fortune)