Need to Know: July 6, 2022


You might have heard:  Trump and Fox News told the ‘big lie’ for profit (The Washington Post) 

But did you know: On local conservative radio, misleading message is clear: ‘Democrats cheat’ (The New York Times) 

Across the country, local conservative radio hosts are spreading misinformation ahead of the November midterm elections, saying that Democrats are likely to cheat to win. These stations have been some of the biggest supporters of former President Trump’s “big lie,” but receive less attention than national media outlets like Fox News. Some talk radio channels air commentary 24 hours a day, but it is rarely cataloged and tracked. When it comes to voter fraud, some of the most egregious claims come from live callers, with hosts rarely correcting their listeners. 

+ Noted: On July 26, the News/Media Alliance will host a member webinar with the recipients of the 2021 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development to hear their success stories (News/Media Alliance); AP reopens Gaza bureau after offices destroyed in airstrike (Associated Press); IBT Media sues Newsweek CEO, demanding he return the magazine (Newsweek) 


Trust Tip: Moderate comments on the conversations you host (Trusting News)

In this post from the Trust Tips archive, Lynn Walsh writes that comment sections should be viewed as places where news outlets “host” guests. Journalists can validate good behavior (hitting “like” on a user’s comment is so quick and simple), contribute to conversations, answer questions and reprimand people who are ruining the vibe. Moderation works best when it’s based on a solid comment policy. Look for opportunities to challenge people who are being inappropriately rude, then warn or ban people who blatantly break the rules. Doing so rewards people who follow the rules. It’s a sign of respect toward your commenting community.


David Fahrenthold of The Times discusses why the world of nonprofit charities is prime for investigative reporting (The New York Times) 

While at The Washington Post, David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s misappropriation of charitable funds. Now a reporter at The New York Times, Fahrenthold says that charities are often under-covered. “[T]here is so much information out there about charities and they occupy such an important business and moral role in society, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of enforcement there,” Fahrenthold told Terence McGinley. 


How the Financial Times exposed a billion-dollar fraud (Global Investigative Journalism Network) 

Dan McCrum, a reporter at Financial Times in London, spent six years investigating German electronic payments company Wirecard. His investigation revealed one of the largest corporate frauds of all time, but McCrum says that smaller instances of fraud are almost certainly occurring at rapid-growth companies around the world, especially in the crypto space. Before he could prove Wirecard’s fraud, he wrote stories that explored the “puzzle” of the company’s accounting, which allowed him to avoid the UK’s strict libel laws. Those stories begat more stories, as whistleblowers began reaching out — as did one employee’s mother, who encouraged her son to talk to McCrum. 


These influencers are using their TikTok platforms to make abortion-related #sponcon (The 19th)

Favor, a company that ships birth control and emergency contraception around the country, has been paying TikTok influencers to talk about what the end of Roe v. Wade means for healthcare. Companies have long turned to influencers to sell products; asking them to promote political or social ideas is new,  writes Jennifer Gerson. Atlanta-based lawyer and TikTok influencer Alicia Luncheon was paid by Favor to produce man-on-the-street content that sought to push Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to get a vasectomy, which she turned into a multi-part TikTok series. 

+ Related: Christian fascist propaganda is all over TikTok (Vice) 


A Colorado newspaper settled a libel lawsuit. Now it’s facing accusations of self-censorship. (Poynter)

Earlier this year, after a Swedish billionaire spent more than $76 million on a small parcel of land, The Aspen Times covered the deal extensively. But after the purchaser, Vladislav Doronin, sued the paper for defamation, it ceased covering the matter at all. The staff say that owners Ogden newspapers refused to publish anything about Doronin — or about his lawsuit against the paper. As a result, several staffers have quit, locals are boycotting the paper and one city council member is trying to recruit residents to purchase the paper away from Ogden. 


Following criticism of Asian mail-order bride ad, newsweekly halts sponsored posts (NBC News) 

The alt-weekly The Austin Chronicle has ceased all sponsored content after a sponsored ad on its website promoted Asian mail-order brides. The ad, which drew considerable criticism, ranked countries with the “best” brides and included racist and sexist statements. The Chronicle removed the ad and apologized, vowing to no longer allow any mail-order bride sponsors. Cassidy Frazier, the paper’s associate publisher, said the moratorium on sponsored content will remain in place until “more strenuous” advertising policies are in place.