Need to Know: January 28, 2022


More than one-third of Americans (37%) are paying very close attention to COVID-19 news, a rise from 31% last spring but still not near the high of 51% from the beginning of the pandemic. A partisan split between attention to pandemic news has remained fairly consistent since the summer of 2020; currently, 45% of Democrats say they pay close attention to pandemic news, compared with 30% of Republicans. (Pew Research Center)

Hearst Newspapers is planning its largest digital expansion ever — a shared development hub that will include product and data specialists as well as interactive graphic artists. The goal will be to help Hearst’s papers across the country benefit from data journalism products developed by a San Francisco-based team. The company finished 2021 with a 50% growth in digital subscriptions from the year before. (Poynter) 


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

Media literacy bill aims to make Delaware students better digital citizens. The bill, which has passed the State Senate and will now go to the House, will create media literacy standards for schools. The aim is to help students assess the reliability of a source and identify misinformation. (Delaware Public Radio)  

Pigeon 605 is delivering personalized local news to residents in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Users “adopt” a bird who “delivers” stories based on the users’ preferences. The site is profitable largely due to advertising and sponsored content. (Nieman Lab)  

Colorado Media Project announces $1 million in grants to strengthen and advance equity in local news. The awards are part of the project’s commitment to making the state’s media “more sustainable, collaborative, inclusive, and accountable.” (Colorado Media Project)



Protect your staff from online abuse with a formal policy and a response plan (Better News)

Online abuse is one of the largest threats that journalists face. To protect its staff, The Seattle Times created a clear policy to deal with incidents of online abuse, with help from the International Women’s Media Foundation.  The Times also created a centralized folder where employees could document the abuse, which simplified the process of gathering evidence and allowed the paper to monitor repeat offenders. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole. 


+ They were reporters in Hong Kong. Now they drive cabs and sell fried chicken. (Vice) 

+ Your newspaper’s not making money? Make it permanent as a nonprofit! (Politico) 

+ Professor Barbie Zelizer argues that journalism needs a major transformation in order to survive as an essential pillar of our democracy. (Annenberg School of Communication) 

+ An obit gets honest and goes viral: The son of a bawdy woman talks about writing an irreverent obituary to match his mom’s irreverent life (Nieman Storyboard)