Need to Know: July 15, 2021


You might have heard: Climate change should be integrated into other beats (International Journalists’ Network)

But did you know: COVID-19 coverage offers lessons for reporting on the climate crisis (Nieman Lab)

Covering COVID-19 was like no other story; effectively, all news became about the pandemic. This meant that the science desk of many outlets became the center of the newsroom, with reporters from all beats checking with and collaborating with the science team before publishing. This collaboration must be applied to coverage of climate change, writes Wolfgang Blau. Like COVID-19, the climate crisis will affect all beats, and all reporters need to be well-versed in the science of climate change. News outlets could focus on key climate metrics that are crucial for people to understand, and then repeat them over and over again, with visuals and interactives. 

+ Noted: U.S. newsroom employment has fallen 26% since 2008 (Pew Research Center); U.S. charges four with plot to kidnap New York journalist critical of Iran (Reuters); Google News Initiative announces $2.1 million in funding to projects and initiatives of 22 news innovators from the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (Google News Initiative)


How the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s streaming newscast grew audience and revenue (Better News) 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal wanted to deliver a video newscast that put it ahead of its TV competitors and tapped the expertise of its talented staff. The resulting seven-minute “7@7” video was a hit with audiences, especially its target audience of 25 to 54-year-olds. Staff across all departments frequently get compliments from readers, subscribers and clients about how much they enjoy the pace and brevity of the show. 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.

+ The American Press Institute is now accepting applications from local news organizations for small-project funding to support government and accountability reporting

+ How has your newsroom experimented with telling complex stories in a more digestible and accessible way on social media? Reply to this email to let us know. A sampling of responses will be published in tomorrow’s newsletter.


What newsrooms can do to better cover Indigenous communities (Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma) 

Duncan McCue is a CBC radio host and creator of Reporting in Indigenous Communities, a guide to covering Indigenous people for journalists. He says that newsrooms need to develop cultural competency around covering Indigenous issues, since a lack of knowledge can lead to the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes. He also says that newsrooms and reporters need to be trained in trauma-informed reporting, as every journalist working with Indigenous people will be dealing with victims of trauma. That training is crucial to making sure that Indigenous communities are able to give informed consent to coverage. 


Brits who use search, social and aggregators have more diverse news diets (Reuters Institute) 

A new study has found that Britons who use social media, search engines and news aggregators have a more diverse news diet than those who go directly to news websites. In contrast to previous research, the study found that algorithmic news recommendations don’t trap users in “filter bubbles” but show them news they wouldn’t otherwise see. It may be that, because search engines want to give the impression of variety, users are shown articles from outlets they may not otherwise seek out. Social media also raises the chance of “incidental exposure” to news, which may come from outside a user’s sphere of news consumption. Users who seek out news specifically tend to return over and over to the same sources; in the U.K., the BBC’s news site is a particularly popular destination. 

+ Twitter sees jump in global government demands to remove content of reporters, news outlets (Reuters) 


Targeted ads isolate and divide us even when they’re not political (The Conversation) 

Studies have shown that targeted political advertising online can encourage partisanship and polarization, but new research shows that targeted commercial ads can also lead to divisiveness. This is partly due to the fact that targeted campaigns don’t reach enough people for there to be a collective reaction, as there might be to a mass-market ad that is found to be objectionable. Also, by relying on algorithms to feed ads, some users may be exposed to harmful content, such as when ads for high-fat-content foods target children, or gambling ads target those who suffer from a gambling addiction. The study’s authors suggest restricting the precision of targeted ads or banning targeted ads entirely. 

+ Facebook plans to pay creators $1 billion to use its products (The New York Times) 


Influential mainstream news outlets should embrace and announce their core values (The Washington Post) 

In the post-Trump era, news outlets like CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post can’t “credibly go back to posturing as disinterested or neutral,” writes Perry Bacon Jr. Noting that all three outlets “put defending democratic values above placating Trump-aligned voters,” Bacon argues that they should publicly embrace their core values, both to help audiences understand the reasons behind their coverage, and to help internally guide their reporting. Other, broader outlets like the AP and ABC, he argues, should be more transparent too, even if their goal is to appeal to audiences of all political spectrums. 


‘I have to come to bury Knewz, not to praise it’ (Nieman Lab) 

Knewz, a news aggregator launched by News Corp. 18 months ago, shut down this week. The site was doomed from the start, Joshua Benton writes. Despite its claim to be “without bent or bias,” it often linked more to conservative news sites than mainstream publications, particularly News Corp.-owned outlets like Fox News and The New York Post. Outside of political stories, the aggregator favored tabloid-style crime stories — in fact, all of the local news outlets linked to were for crime stories, several seemingly written directly from police reports or press releases.