Need to Know: July 29, 2020


You might have heard: Tribune can buy more time by selling more control to Alden Global Capital (NiemanLab) 

But did you know: Tribune Publishing adopts ‘poison pill’ defense to fend off hostile takeover attempt (Chicago Tribune)

The Tribune Publishing board, which owns the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun amongst others, has adopted a “poison pill” plan to thwart a hostile takeover of the company. The plan would allow all existing shareholders to buy their stock at a significantly discounted price if 10% of the company’s shares are ever bought by a single entity without board approval. The plan is good for one year. The adoption comes after hedge fund Alden Global Capital took a third seat on the board and became Tribune’s largest shareholder at 32%.

+ Noted: Journalists who left Deadspin last year are starting Defector Media (The New York Times); Krissah Thompson named The Washington Post’s first managing editor for diversity and inclusion (The Washington Post); Medium expands its publishing tools, with more choices of colors and length options (Medium); Substack announces 15 winners of fellowships for independent writers (Substack); Pulitzer announces Post-Graduate Reporting Fellowship Program for Columbia and Medill Journalism Schools (Pulitzer Center)


Trust Tip: Solicit (and answer) live questions about voting (Trusting News)

Soliciting questions from your readers is a good way to engage your audience, but answering those questions live is a great way to start a conversation, particularly in the run up to the election. Reporters Sara Swann and Bill Theobald at The Fulcrum hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything and answered dozens of questions about voting during the pandemic. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


NY1 and Investopedia teamed up to track New York City’s economic recovery (Investopedia)

Local television news network NY1 has teamed up with the finance and investing site Investopedia to build a Recovery Index, which tracks New York City’s return to normalcy following COVID-19. The data will be examined weekly, with deep dives into specific metrics when they rise or fall sharply. Weekly metrics include health, jobs and unemployment, small business licenses, mobility and restaurants. Of the baseline of 100, which measured New York City before the pandemic on all of those metrics, the city is currently at a 23.

+ Radio stations are trying something new: Brief periods of peace and quiet on air (Nieman Lab); New Jersey news outlet NJ Spotlight unveils Spanish-language platform built in collaboration with Reporte Hispano (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)


Turkey cracks down on dissent by extending sweeping powers over social media (The New York Times)

Lawmakers in Turkey have passed a new law giving the government vast powers to control content on social media, one of the few places where information can be freely shared in the country. The bill requires all platforms with over a million users to open an office in Turkey, and remove any content that the government deems offensive within 48 hours. It also requires that the platforms store data within the country. Currently, 90% of traditional media in Turkey is controlled by the government, and the country has blocked access to more than 400,000 websites.


Facebook boycotters lobby lawmakers on antitrust (Axios)

Advertisers who boycotted Facebook last month in protest of the platform’s part in spreading hate speech are calling on the government to look into antitrust issues. The argument is that Facebook’s ability to withstand such a widespread campaign is a sign of a lack of competition. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday, and boycotters want to push him on what alternatives to Facebook advertisers have to reach such a large audience. Facebook has argued that since their users don’t pay for the service, there are no consumer pricing concerns, which is normally the focus of antitrust investigations.

+ Related: Why Congress should care about the damage online platforms can do (MIT Technology Review)


The modern dilemma of TikTok journalism (Columbia Journalism Review)

With more attention, and scrutiny, paid to social media app TikTok and its affiliation with the Chinese government, Emily Bell at CJR writes that journalists are increasingly concerned about using the app to distribute news. Alongside worries that data shared with the app may be given to the Chinese government, there are more practical hesitations as well — it’s unclear how TikTok figures into a larger business strategy, and it’s unlikely that the short-form videos made for the app could be used elsewhere.

+ Related: Millennials and Gen Z turning to Instagram for news from first-hand accounts (The Guardian)


FiveThirtyEight is trying to build the right amount of uncertainty into its 2020 election data analysis (Nieman Lab)

When looking back at the 2016 presidential election, one of the most common criticisms of the press coverage is that polling data and aggregates showed Hillary Clinton winning almost every time, often with a healthy margin. FiveThirtyEight was more bearish than others, only giving Clinton a 71% chance of winning. But since the Nate Silver-led brand is the most associated with political polling aggregation, senior visual journalist Anna Wiederkehr walked her Twitter followers through a thread explaining how the site is communicating uncertainty better, for example, by showing a “ballswarm” to help visually explain the odds of one person winning or another.