Need to Know: July 14, 2021

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: 83% of employers say remote work has been successful for their company (Fast Company) 

But did you know: News organizations are taking different approaches to how often employees will come back to the office (CNBC) 

Since March of 2020, the majority of the news industry has been working from home — for the most part, successfully. Now, as restrictions ease, newsrooms are debating how much employees need to be back in the office, if at all. Some, like Bloomberg, say that the goal is to have employees back full-time in the office, while The New York Times and The Financial Times say they will institute hybrid routines, with employees working some days in the office and some days from home. A few, like Quartz, are considering sticking with an all-remote workforce. 

+ Noted: Gannett will close printing operations of The Gazette newspaper in Cedar Rapids, impacting 34 full-time and eight part-time employees (AP News) 

API UPDATE

Journalism in the fog of ‘high conflict’: Q&A with Amanda Ripley  

Good conflict exists. There is also “high conflict,” as journalist Amanda Ripley defines it — a type of “us vs. them” conflict that ensnares individuals and groups, becoming “self-perpetuating and all-consuming, in which almost everyone ends up worse off.” In a new Q&A, API asks Ripley how the science and stories of how people have exited high conflict (captured in a new book of the same name) might apply to beats, news organizations and journalism’s reach in an age of social media. “Traditional journalism doesn’t work in a hyperpolarized country,” said Ripley, who also revisits her viral 2018 essay Complicating the Narratives and what she’d add to it three years later. 

+ Trust Tip: Examine key elements of your crime coverage, part two (Trusting News)

TRY THIS AT HOME

One year later, Chalkbeat reflects on its commitment to antiracism (Chalkbeat) 

Last summer, Chalkbeat announced that it was embracing antiracism as a core value, and focused on listening to communities of color about their experiences. One year in, co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Green reflects on the work that’s been done, including crowdsourced articles about racial injustice and community gatherings related to subjects like activism and violence. The outlet has also worked to increase diversity in its ranks; both its leadership team and board are at least 50% people of color. Green also writes about the work still to be done, including the publication of a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging dashboard this summer that will help track the site’s progress. 

+ The Los Angeles Times digitized its Pulitzer Prize-winning series on Southern California’s Latino community from 1982 (The Los Angeles Times) 

OFFSHORE

How a Hungarian newsroom put its trust in its readers to survive the pandemic (Reuters Institute) 

When the pandemic hit in April of 2020, Hungarian independent news outlet 444.hu wasn’t sure it would last more than a few months. Digital advertising income collapsed, so the team decided to turn its focus to its growing audience revenue program. The outlet appealed directly to readers, saying that its “survival was in their hands,” and that if they weren’t willing to pay for independent journalism, it may be permanently lost. Through a combination of donations, crowdfunding and a basic membership plan, 444.hu reversed all of its pandemic pay cuts, and by the end of the year, hired eight new reporters.  

OFFBEAT

Businesses with more diverse boards came out on top during the last year (Axios) 

During the pandemic, businesses that had more diverse boards fared better, according to a new study from the nonprofit BoardReady. Companies with more women on their boards, a wider age span of their board members, and more non-white executives were more likely to have done well in revenue growth in 2020, the study found. The data will support efforts across corporate America to diversify boards. Some progress has been made; for instance, the number of women on S&P 500 corporate boards has risen from 16% in 2020 to 28% in 2021. 

UP FOR DEBATE

White House reporters are still confusing leaks and controversy with the stories most important for them to cover (The Nation) 

In a response to a new newsletter featuring “inside conversation” about the political press, Joan Walsh writes that she has little sympathy for White House reporters who say they miss the leaks of the Trump administration. President Biden’s White House, she writes, is disciplined, with a clear communications strategy that — though harder for meeting deadlines or delivering scoops — is fundamentally better for the country than a White House that is full of “rats leaving a sinking ship.” Walsh writes that a fixation on holding politicians to account for seemingly minor things can distract from covering the important policy issues, which is worse for the country in the long run. 

SHAREABLE

New York Times faces contentious summer of labor battles (Axios) 

The New York Times will be addressing several labor issues in the next few months, and serving as a bellwether for other media companies dealing with employee concerns. The NewsGuild of New York is asking the paper for higher minimum salaries, more control of intellectual property rights for reporters, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The Times has also decided against voluntarily recognizing a union formed by the paper’s tech workers, forcing them to vote. The outcome of the multi-front labor battles could set precedents for how smaller media outlets and unions are likely to negotiate.