Need to Know: July 28, 2022


You might have heard: Newspapers keep eliminating print days. They say it’s for the best. (The Washington Post)

But did you know: As newspapers cut print editions, lines blur between dailies and weeklies (Medill Local News Initiative)

As publishers across the country reduce their print days, the traditional seven-day-a-week print run is disappearing, writes Greg Burns. The trend also could render obsolete terms like “daily” and “weekly,” since publishers are putting content in e-editions and offering 24-hour web access. “If you’re publishing new information daily, how much longer are we even going to use the terms daily and weekly?” said Sara April of newspaper broker Dirks, Van Essen & April. The shift to fewer print days has highlighted how, for decades, most dailies have been profitable only two or three days a week. Burns writes that Gannett’s moves away from print are being closely watched in the industry. 

+ Noted: Vox Media lays off 39 people amid economic uncertainty (Axios); Syndication deal brings together Money and McClatchy (Poynter); Covington Catholic student loses libel lawsuits against media companies (New York Daily News) 


How the Arizona Daily Star created a solutions beat to build reader engagement and better serve its community (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Add solutions-oriented reporting to your coverage, rather than solely focusing on problems. The Arizona Daily Star had been prioritizing watchdog journalism, but decided to balance out its coverage with solutions-focused projects. When reporter Caitlin Schmidt asked editors if she could turn this kind of reporting into a beat, it was an “easy yes.” She now does stories about people, programs and processes working to fill gaps in equity, break down barriers and make Southern Arizona a better place. The response has been universally positive, with each story leading to new sources and ideas. 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.


Three veteran New Orleans journalists announce nonprofit newsroom Verite (Adweek) 

A new news site called Verite will report on education, housing, health care, criminal justice and other issues in New Orleans “with a heightened emphasis on centering Black and brown communities whose voices have been historically ignored,” writes Mark Stenberg. The founders, David Francis, Terry Baquet and Tim Morris worked at the Times Picayune but left in 2019 when the paper was sold to The Advocate, a rival publisher. The group has raised $2 million from The Ford Foundation, $350,000 from the American Journalism Project and over $400,000 from individual donors. Verite plans to have around 20 full-time employees, but it will also work with freelancers and contract workers. 


Theft of news articles and entire websites more than doubled in U.K. in 2021 (Press Gazette)

U.K. publishers saw a doubling in the number of ripped-off news articles or cloned websites from 2020 to 2021, reports Charlotte Tobitt. Some of the thefts involve fake duplicates of websites from legitimate publishers, with URLs that are similar but not exactly the same. Matt Aspinall, head of publisher services at NLA Media Access, said that in a growing number of cases, cloned websites send readers to content about bitcoin or crypto. The problem isn’t expected to go away soon, and publishers are worried about the financial impact of the fakes, Tobitt writes. 


The age of algorithmic anxiety (The New Yorker)

Algorithmic anxiety is that feeling of uneasiness that comes when social networks show us things they think we’d like, but that have “only a distant relationship to our own authentic preferences,” writes Kyle Chayka. Almost all internet platforms use algorithms, which developers call “recommender systems,” designed to get maximum engagement from their users. But they aren’t transparent, and they’re not always right. “Besieged by automated recommendations, we are left to guess exactly how they are influencing us, feeling in some moments misperceived or misled and in other moments clocked with eerie precision,” Chayka writes.  


Why we should fear TikTok’s influence on news media (New Statesman) 

In light of a new report showing that TikTok is the fastest-growing news source for adults, Sarah Manavis wonders whether news organizations should embrace the platform as a way to deliver journalism. She sees problems with that. On social media platforms, valuable news gets “crowded out” by content that turns out to be “algorithmically popular” — including inaccurate stories. “Advocating for news spread through social media inevitably rewards an attention economy that allows news influencers, misinformation, conspiracy theories and polarizing content to flourish,” she writes. 


How local journalists proved a 10-year-old’s abortion wasn’t a hoax (The Washington Post)

When a doctor in Indiana said she had been contacted about a 10-year-old from Ohio who needed an abortion, the story became national news. But there were doubters, especially in right-wing media. Columbus Dispatch reporter Bethany Bruner just stayed focused on the story. She and her colleagues studied public records and worked their sources. Eventually she found the case in a court docket, and within hours she and her counterparts at the Indianapolis Star had the story. “Their reporting demonstrated that the girl’s horrifying situation was not as rare as many had assumed,” writes Elahe Izadi. “It also showed why the public rarely hears of such abortion stories — and why they will need local journalists to inform them of the impacts of Roe’s demise.”