Need to Know: July 27, 2021


You might have heard: Gannett sold three Oklahoma papers to a local family-owned company (Poynter)

But did you know: More news outlets are going back to local ownership (Medill Local News Initiative) 

Local investors are increasingly buying news outlets from large newspaper chains, writes Mark Jacob. Both local and chain ownership have benefits for a news outlet; chain ownership offers website and technical support, broader business strategy and the ability to recruit top talent, while local control generally means the outlet will have more of a presence in the community. For chain and hedge fund owners like Alden Global Capital, selling off individual papers can make business sense at times, and for civic-minded investors looking to support local journalism, starting with an established, legacy brand is often easier than building a new name from scratch. 

+ Editor’s Note: In yesterday’s edition of Need to Know we covered a report published by the Local Media Association on securing philanthropic funding for journalism. However, we misstated one of the report’s key findings. We wrote that the report recommends news organizations’ funding pitches “avoid focusing on the need to ‘save’ newsroom jobs or why journalism is important.” The report actually recommends that funding pitches don’t focus solely on the need to save newsroom jobs, but do emphasize the importance of local journalism to a community.


Apply for funding to support government and accountability reporting

Do you have ideas for new ways government and accountability journalism can reflect the needs of local communities? API is now accepting applications from local news organizations for small-project funding to do this kind of work. Eligible local news outlets can apply for funds through Aug. 6, 2021 in amounts from $2,500 up to $10,000.


Peer Learning + Collaboration grantees help to fill in Newark’s information gaps (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media) 

Last August, the Newark Peer Learning + Collaboration Fund launched with the goal of getting more information to the citizens of Newark, N.J. Run by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, the initiative convened 100 people to discuss information needs and the news ecosystem in the city. The fund went on to make $45,000 in grants to support five projects that used journalism and community collaboration to help fill news and information gaps. The projects include a platform for locals to share their experiences during the pandemic, a multilingual app for providing information about community services, and a news program to air on the local public access channel. 


An investigative journalism network in the UK is looking for reporters and members of the public to help probe local authorities ( 

The Bureau Local, a journalism collaborative in the U.K., is crowd-sourcing a project to inspect government grants given to businesses during the pandemic. The organization is asking volunteers around the country to submit requests for information from local governments, and they’ve provided a “reporting recipe” as a guide for volunteers. The investigation comes after a report that found widespread fraud and error in grants awarded during the pandemic. 


Citizen pays city-dwellers $25 an hour to livestream crime scenes (The New York Post) 

Citizen, a neighborhood watch app that allows anyone to record police activity or other incidents, is hiring New Yorkers to live-stream crime scenes and other public emergencies, The New York Post reports. The goal of the app is to encourage ordinary people to also live-stream events for free. The paid “field team members” earn $25 per hour and were, until recently, being recruited on journalism job websites, though the listing said only that the work was for a “tech company with user-generated content.” Similar listings also existed for team members in Los Angeles.  


The British experience should be a warning: Don’t let journalists go into politics (The Atlantic) 

Last week, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof announced that he is considering a run for governor of Oregon. Helen Lewis, a British journalist, writes that Britain has a history of journalists-turned-politicians, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but that the U.S. should not emulate it. “Journalists make dangerous politicians because they can talk their way out of trouble, have an eye for an arresting phrase and an appealing narrative, and know how to win over a crowd,” she writes. Lewis warns that as American journalism moves towards punditry, we should be wary of letting popular journalists enter the political arena. 


​​Most big American newspaper newsrooms are now led by someone other than a white man (Nieman Lab) 

According to data from the Alliance of Audited Media, only seven of the 20 largest newspapers in America are led by a white man, writes Joshua Benton. Twelve are led by a woman, a person of color or both, while one job — at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser — is vacant. That means white men comprise about 37% of newsroom leaders, only slightly higher than the proportion of white men in the country. Seven of these jobs have changed hands in the last 12 months, with a shift from six white men and one white woman to two Black women, two Hispanic men, one Black man, one white woman and one white man. But diversity isn’t seen equally across the industry; smaller newspapers are less likely to hire journalists of color.