Need to Know: January 25, 2022


You might have heard: More states say they’re teaching media literacy, but what that means varies (Education Week)

But did you know: Media literacy bill aims to make Delaware students better digital citizens (Delaware Public Media)

A media literacy bill aimed at helping children understand the digital landscape has passed the Delaware Senate. Democratic State Sen. Sarah McBride, the bill’s sponsor, says the goal is to help young people be more discerning about online information. The bill would create media literacy standards for schools, with a focus on helping students detect misinformation and understand how to seek out reliable sources. Some Republicans opposed the bill, citing concerns that biased viewpoints would be incorporated into the curriculum. McBride said that each school will develop its own lesson plans. The bill passed along party lines, and will move to the House.

+ Noted: Sarah Palin’s defamation trial against New York Times delayed by positive coronavirus test (The Washington Post); Julian Assange wins first stage of fight to overturn U.S. extradition decision at Supreme Court (Press Gazette); Andy Alford is The Texas Tribune’s next director of editorial recruitment, training and career development (Texas Tribune)


API welcomes Stephen Jefferson to its Metrics for News team

The American Press Institute is excited to announce that Stephen Jefferson has joined our team as Senior Applications Engineer. In his role, Jefferson will work with the team that manages API’s proprietary analytics tool Metrics for News and its new source diversity tracking tool Source Matters. Jefferson brings more than 15 years of experience developing technology for nonprofits and journalism.

+ Hearken, the Solutions Journalism Network, Trusting News, Poynter and Good Conflict are launching Democracy SOS, a fellowship that will support newsrooms committed to building understanding, trust and engagement; engendering hope rather than despair; and reducing polarization. (Trusting News)


How America Amplified’s project manager makes the case for bilingual content (Substack, Oigo)

When Paola Marizan started working in public media, she found there was a resistance to bilingual and Spanish-language content. She learned to make the case that, just as some content produced by public radio didn’t appeal to her, bilingual or Spanish content that wasn’t aimed at station managers was still worth producing. Marizan now works at America Amplified and helps other public radio stations create Spanish-language content specifically tailored for local communities.


New story agency shifts narratives away from harmful stereotypes about Africa (International Journalists’ Network)

In 2021, Africa No Filter, a nonprofit organization focused on amplifying African narratives, launched a digital story agency called bird, which focuses on the continent’s “beauty and promise” rather than old, harmful stereotypes, writes Agbaje Ayomide. The agency commissions and distributes positive stories to 20 content partners across the continent via a website that allows bird to track readership across partner sites and gauge the reach of a story. Africa No Filter also contributes to the African Arguments fellowship, which trains freelance journalists to produce high-quality journalism.


Google warns of ‘devastating’ impact if Australian court ruling on defamatory hyperlinks is upheld (The Guardian)

Google is arguing before Australia’s high court that a recent lower-court ruling could devastate its search engine results. George Defteros, a lawyer in Melbourne, sued the tech giant, arguing that search results which pointed to old newspaper articles about an arrest were defamatory, and in 2020, a court sided with Defteros. In an appeal, Google wrote that the ruling would make the company “liable as the publisher of any matter published on the web to which its search results provide a hyperlink,” and would require it to censor any website links that received any complaints, even when the link is “a matter of legitimate interest.”


News outlet should be investing in the child care beat (Columbia Journalism Review)

News coverage of child care was sparse before the pandemic, but shutdowns of workplaces, schools and daycares made child care a topic of everyday conversation. The nuances of the beat — licensing requirements in different states, the implications of local and federal policy, the vast spectrum of what constitutes “child care” — are too complex for a general assignment reporter to grasp quickly. Now news outlets should be dedicating reporters to the child care beat, argue Haley Swenson and Rebecca Gale of the Better Life Lab at New America.


If local journalism manages to survive, give Evan Smith some credit for it (The Washington Post)

When Evan Smith co-founded the Texas Tribune in 2009, digital nonprofit news outlets were still a novelty. Now, the Tribune has grown rapidly and proven the model as a viable source for local news, writes Margaret Sullivan.  She says that Smith, who announced he will step down from his role at The Tribune at the end of this year, is  “a promotional force of nature, energetic organizer, prodigious fundraiser, and lively onstage interviewer.” As new nonprofit outlets pop up around the country, Sullivan writes, they should follow the Tribune’s lead in focusing on watchdog reporting and accountability journalism.