Need to Know: July 17, 2020


You might have heard: 50 years after the landmark Kerner Report called out media racism, the power structure persists (Colorlines)

But did you know: Free Press project ‘Media 2070’ focuses on media reparations (Muck Rack)

Free Press is a nonprofit focused on several areas related to media activism, from expanding affordable internet access to rethinking local journalism. Next month, they launch their Media 2070 project, an essay and organizing hub that will focus on harm caused by the media against BIPOC communities, with the specific goal of addressing “media reparations.” In an interview, the project’s leaders said that a large focus of the project is on the history of media upholding a white social hierarchy, and exploring options for media reparations such as adjusting the way FCC broadcast licenses are distributed.

+ Noted: Traffic to digital-native news sites has largely plateaued since 2016 (Pew Research Center); McClatchy’s financials are a window into how much damage COVID-19 has done to the newspaper business (Nieman Lab); Vox Media lays off 6% of staff after sharp revenue drop-off amid pandemic (Variety)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

The power of the pause, toxic conversations and contact tracing. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.  


How The Atlantic is moving its biggest festival online (Digiday)

Like so many other publishers, the Atlantic is moving its money-making events online this fall. The Atlantic Festival, the brand’s biggest event of the year, generally brings in one-third of its annual events revenue. With an events team that is now 80% smaller than its normal size, the publisher has changed its goals — from curating a three-day festival for 2,000 people to four days and nights of online programming that they hope will draw in a million “attendees.” In most years, The Atlantic earns 20% of its revenue from live events, but the move to virtual events this year has lowered that amount to only 5 to 10%. This year’s festival will be free, with revenue coming from nine advertisers.


The more readers of a Slovakian start-up pay, the less they read (INMA)

Tomas Bella, co-founder of the Slovakian news site Dennik N, was surprised to learn that readers who were paying the site’s highest tier of subscription, at €9 per month, were reading less of the site than those paying €5 or €7 per month. Research showed that the highest-tier members were more likely to say that they subscribed to support the news, rather than because of special access or features. For wealthier individuals, their money may be significantly less valuable than their time, which could explain why they’re willing to pay more while reading less.

+ Earlier: One of the 3 types of news subscribers is the “Civically Committed,” who pay for subscriptions even if they aren’t using them

+ Filipino Americans are watching the Philippines. Why isn’t American media? (The Objective)


TikTok has a misinformation problem—and is turning to popular creators for help (Fast Company)

Like all social media platforms, TikTok is filled with misinformation and propaganda, from anti-vaxxing content to coronavirus hoaxes. In an effort to combat these videos, the platform has created a series of videos called “Be Informed,” featuring some of the app’s most popular creators, which helps viewers assess the credibility of a video and how to tell fact from fiction. The videos in the series, developed in partnership with the National Association for Media Literacy Education, are designed like funny infomercials.


Can publishers stop their journalists from launching Substack newsletters? (Simon Owens’s Tech and Media Newsletter)

News organizations have often placed restrictions on what their employees can do off-the-clock, from social media guidelines to banning competitive freelancing. But, Simon Owens writes, they shouldn’t attempt to stop their writers from creating their own personal, monetized newsletters on platforms like Substack. In his view, it’s no different than a journalist posting on Twitter or Facebook (as long as they don’t run astray of their employer’s social media policy). And media organizations may be pushing away top talent by not allowing outside work, he argues.

+ Earlier: How Substack has spawned a new class of newsletter entrepreneurs (Digiday)

+ It’s time for business journalism to break with its conservative past (Quartz)


Local communities and local news need a new economic narrative: Why not create it together? (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

When local news disappears, civic engagement drops, but conversations about economic development rarely include local news in the discussion. After talking with community and newsroom leaders, Linda Miller argues that local media needs to work alongside community development efforts to tackle injustice and promote economic growth. Media also needs to ensure that coverage of their community is equitable and complete; often, local business owners and residents feel that news coverage is “an act committed upon them,” she writes, rather than a public service that can help them meet their goals. 


+ Revisiting Edna Buchanan, America’s greatest police reporter (Popula)

+ When writers of color are asked to write about the food of their heritage, the answer is often complex (Epicurious)

+ The Constitution doesn’t work without local news (The Atlantic)

+ COVID-19 is hurting journalists’ mental health. News outlets should help them now (Reuters Institute)