Need to Know: July 28, 2021


You might have heard:  Local news outlets boosted digital subscriptions by about 50% over the course of 2020 (Poynter) 

But did you know: Nearly all major news outlets with a digital platform offer newsletters (Pew Research Center) 

A new fact sheet from the Pew Research Center has found that almost all (93%) major online news outlets offer some form of newsletter. Pew’s Digital News Fact Sheet, which focuses on news outlets that have at least 10 million unique visitors per month on their main websites, also found that three-quarters of the outlets offer podcasts, while only 39% offer users a way to comment on their articles. Pew’s research also found that 18,000 people were employed in editorial roles — editor, reporter, photographer, or videographer — in digital-first newsrooms. In these organizations, the median wage for reporters was $73,000 and $69,000 for editors. 

+ Noted: NBC News adding more than 200 jobs as part of major streaming push (Axios); The Washington Post will require employees to be vaccinated (The New York Times) 


Trust Tip: Align your crime coverage and metrics with your mission, part four (Trusting News) 

Crime stories are often good drivers of pageviews, ratings and social media engagement, and are often cheap and easy to produce. But, Joy Mayer writes, news organizations need to ensure that their coverage of crime does not conflict with their mission to give “a full, accurate, nuanced picture” of their communities. She shares eight “mission metrics” for crime coverage from Martin Reynolds of the Maynard Institute, including interrogating official accounts of crimes, highlighting community-based solutions to crimes and covering any crimes “gavel to gavel.” Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.  


The Salt Lake Tribune, Amplify Utah and Salt Lake Community College partner on stories that highlight Utah’s diversity (Editor & Publisher) 

In an effort to engage more young readers and spotlight Utah’s diversity, The Salt Lake Tribune is partnering with the nonprofit Amplify Utah and Salt Lake Community College to amplify voices that are otherwise overlooked in local media. The collaboration began in January, when students at the community college began reporting on issues such as homelessness, poverty, policing and racial discrimination, and women’s and prison issues. Amplify Utah will then showcase and archive these stories, alongside photos and videos from the project, while the Tribune will create a new section on its website to promote the content. Amplify Utah is also reaching out to other colleges and universities, with the hopes of building a network of student media organizations that can share stories.


The Markup and Süddeutsche Zeitung team up to bring the Citizen Browser Project to Germany (The Markup)

The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom focused on technology’s role in society, has announced that it is teaming up with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung to expand its Citizen Browser Project to Germany. The project, first launched in the U.S. last October, tracks how Facebook’s algorithms affect what people see in their feeds. The German version will be focused on helping Süddeutsche Zeitung track and analyze information spreading on the social media platform ahead of the country’s general election in September. Results from the U.S. project found, amongst other issues, that the platform was showing less public information to Black users than other people. 


New Facebook partnership tackles health misinformation (Axios) 

Facebook has announced that it is working with Meedan, a tech nonprofit, to help its fact-checking partner organizations combat health and vaccine misinformation. The new program comes in the wake of criticism that Facebook is not doing enough to curb misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Meedan will offer virtual training sessions to third-party fact-checkers on how to spot and correct misinformation. The partnership will also allow Facebook’s fact-checking partners to access Meedan’s health experts whenever they need immediate help with a fact-check. Facebook has spent $84 million in the last four years supporting fact-checking efforts on the platform, but does not police misinformation on its own. 

+ Related: People are more anti-vaccine if they get their Covid news from Facebook than from Fox News, data shows (The Washington Post) 


There’s a sharp divide in American journalism between haves and have-nots (Axios) 

While news organizations on the coasts that cover politics and technology have thrived in recent years, local media organizations continue to struggle, write Sara Fischer and Nicholas Johnston. Local news outlets are swallowed by hedge funds and local journalists struggle to make ends meet, while venture money pours into national media outlets covering broader topics. And national journalists can leverage their popularity into book deals on mainstream topics like Facebook and Donald Trump, while local reporters have fewer options. Despite many efforts to bridge the gap between national and local outlets, as well as create partnerships amongst local news organizations, many smaller outlets are still scrambling to survive. 


The Uproot Project wants race and class at the forefront of environmental reporting (Reynolds Journalism Institute) 

The Uproot Project is a collective of journalists looking to cover environmental stories by centering those most affected by environmental catastrophes. The project, which officially launched in March, wants to challenge current climate change narratives and make clear that many of those most affected by climate change will be communities of color. Climate newsroom Grist is providing operational support for the project, which ultimately plans to be independent. The group currently boasts 120 members, and hopes that its resources and Slack channel will provide a place for interested environmental journalists to connect and find community.