Need to Know: January 28, 2021


You might have heard: Americans’ trust in media hits an all-time low (Axios) 

But did you know: More information about a news outlet allows readers to assess the publication’s trustworthiness (Center for Media Engagement)

News audiences around the world struggle to determine which online news sources are reputable. A new study from the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin finds that the best way for readers to gauge the trustworthiness of a news outlet is to see a brief description of the publication in their Google search. The study, which took place in the U.S., Germany and Brazil, found that descriptions that boosted the outlet’s reputation increased trust, while a description that indicated the site had often peddled in misinformation decreased trust. The study also found that participants rated “having a verified corrections policy” as one of the most important factors that would build their trust in a news outlet.

+ Noted: LMA’s NewsFuel to oversee well-known journalism grants directory developed at Raleigh News & Observer (Local Media Association); Facebook plans to reduce political content in the News Feed (CNN)


A new chapter for the press: 5 ideas for moving forward after Trump

API Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel launches a new column, in partnership with the Poynter Institute, that will cover the press and politics, culture and media ethics, technology and the search for sustainability for news. In his first column, he examines how journalists should adjust to a new presidential administration while not losing sight of the biggest story of our lifetimes: the coronavirus pandemic.


How 10 Tampa Bay took investigative news from broadcast to YouTube (Poynter)

Local broadcaster 10 Tampa Bay was looking for a way to bring in a younger audience, and that meant pushing their video content onto social platforms. But the station’s Facebook and YouTube clips were mostly reaching an older audience, so the station created “The Deeper Dive,” a youth-oriented channel that produced original reports about issues affecting Florida residents during the pandemic. The videos, hosted by reporter Jenna Bourne, were more casual than television broadcasts, with simpler graphics and fewer jump cuts. The station has gotten good feedback about the news videos, and the newsrooms plans to continue with social video on various platforms.

+ Earlier: Looking to reach a younger audience on social media, public TV network UNC-TV scaled back its broadcast content to free up resourcesfor shorter, digital media-friendly productions (Better News)

+ Gather has compiled a list of 2021 journalism conferences (Gather)


‘Citizens’ ombudsman’ is pushing back against the politicization of Brazilian public media (Public Media Alliance)

In recent years, Brazilian public broadcaster Empresa Brasil de Comunicação has suffered from government interference, which has limited its editorial autonomy. Now, a new initiative called Ouvidoria Cidadã, or citizens’ ombudsman, is highlighting good work done by EBC while pushing back against the politicization of the broadcaster. The ombudsman publishes regular reports reviewing EBC content, calling out broadcasts that don’t uphold the standards of public media, and spotlighting work that “promote[s] the public debate of ideas and the circulation of information.


Researchers are embracing visual tools to give fair credit for work on papers (Nature Index)

As academic papers are increasingly the result of large, multidisciplinary teams, researchers are finding innovative ways of crediting everyone involved in the production of a paper. Alongside the author contributor section, which offers detailed breakdowns of every person’s involvement, researchers are now including visual matrices that lay out how different participants were involved in the process. Some are simply black-and-white charts, while others use colors to indicate the level of involvement of each person in each particular task. Part of the goal is to incentivize these large-group studies for early-career researchers, who may otherwise feel that their work goes unnoticed.


Can Nextdoor replace the small-town paper? (Medium, One Zero)

Nextdoor, the neighborhood social media platform, is increasingly becoming a source of local news in many communities. But due to the decentralized nature of the platform, it can be difficult to combat the spread of misinformation, and because it caters to the well-off — one paper described it as a “digitally gated community” — and posts are often biased against the less affluent. Volunteer moderators only have a few options for handling untrue content, and there is no adjudicator — or journalist — to provide context for facts and opinions that are shared. Nonetheless, public officials are turning to the platforms as a way of spreading information as local newspapers have diminished.

+ Earlier: With funding from the Google News Initiative, Wick Communications, which owns a chain of community newspapers, is experimenting with an app that can compete with Nextdoor (Local Media Association)


In Vermont, one hyperlocal newsroom aims to fill a void (Columbia Journalism Review)

When the Waterbury Record in Waterbury, Vermont shut down last spring, local journalism professor Lisa Scagliotti saw an opportunity to stop the town from becoming a news desert. The Waterbury Roundabout, launched with the help of her students, was a digital-only outlet focused on hyperlocal issues, like mail-in ballots for school budget votes. A weekly newsletter and attention from other regional outlets led to a partnership with the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, which was looking to reach more local communities with printed weeklies. That resulted in the Waterbury Reader, which features some stories from the Roundabout and is printed and delivered by the Times Argus.