Need to Know: July 7, 2021


You might have heard: Trust in traditional media has declined to an all-time low (Axios) 

But did you know: Corporate media backlash fuels new upstarts (Axios) 

As trust in mainstream news has fallen, media personalities are increasingly leaving corporate media outlets behind to start their own media companies. The Hill’s Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball, who recently left the political news site to launch their own YouTube and podcast franchise, said that people want “information, just not the information that the corporate media is trained to give people.” For upstart news outlets, support from other independent media stars (like podcaster Joe Rogan, for example) can help them gain credibility and build an audience that is dubious of mainstream news. However, some observers worry that this could increase polarization and lead to further distrust of traditional news. 

+ Noted: The Information is launching its first standalone publication (Axios); USA Today will make readers pay for its website, joining other top news outlets (The New York Times)  


Trust Tip: Reinvent your crime coverage to build trust (part one) (Trusting News) 

Traditional conventions in reporting on crime can damage community trust, reinforce stereotypes and inequalities, and lead to flawed coverage. Disproportionate crime coverage can give inaccurate perceptions of a neighborhood, which can be particularly harmful in Black communities. Instead, writes Joy Mayer, newsrooms should focus less on traditional elements of public safety coverage — mugshots, blotters, day-to-day incident reports and trial coverage — and more on coverage that helps people really understand their communities. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


Study points to ways public media could build teen and tween audience (Current)

A recent study from Sesame Workshop found that tweens and teens felt that there was no place for them in public media; being too old for programming aimed at young kids but too young for the adult-oriented content like documentaries. Monica Bulger, one of the report’s authors, says reaching kids at that age can be crucial in building the habit of engaging with high-quality content. The study found that teens and tweens want “programming by them and with them.” For public media, that may mean branching out of existing PBS stations and partnering with social media platforms like YouTube. 

+ Earlier: How UNC-TV transformed itself from a public TV network into a digital media company (Better News)


How one New Zealand media company is trying to make trust pay (The Guardian) 

Since Sinead Boucher bought Stuff, one of New Zealand’s largest news organizations, last year, she has focused on building trust between the outlet and its audience. That has meant pulling its content off Facebook, devoting funding to climate change reporting and apologizing for racially insensitive reporting in the past. So far, it’s unclear whether the gambit will work; one report found that the brand’s focus on issues like climate change means some perceive it as pushing an agenda. Boucher says that despite the criticism, she’s convinced that focusing on accurate, unbiased information will help the news organization gain trust in the long run. 


Help your employees who are anxious about returning to the office (Harvard Business Review)

With more offices opening up, some employees may feel conflicted or hesitant about returning to in-person work. For managers, the first step to ease the transition back should be to send an anonymous survey to employees on their feelings about the return. Use this feedback to inform your next actions, such as implementing new health and safety protocols. Allow employees to have mixed feelings about their return and offer flexibility whenever possible. 


Journalists still aren’t great at reporting on suicide (Substack, The Objective) 

Coverage of suicide by many mainstream outlets fails to abide by standard best practices, writes Klaudia Jaźwińska. In a study of news coverage of Dr. Lorna Breen, who died by suicide last spring, none of the articles in top news outlets abided by more than two-thirds of the guidelines. Studies have shown that discussing suicide without including langauge that suicide is preventable or offering a phone number for a suicide prevention lifeline can lead to imitation suicides. Some of the stories about Breen focused heavily on details of her death and specific information about her life, rather than a broader look at the issues that were affecting the healthcare profession in the early days of the pandemic. 

+ Earlier: How The Durango Herald partnered to use a solutions-based approach to produce a youth suicide project (Better News)


Robin Thurston wants to revive the Outside magazine brand with an Amazon Prime-like membership (The Washington Post) 

Robin Thurston, developer of the workout-tracking app MapMyFitness, has purchased dozens of active lifestyle publications, and recently acquired the outdoor enthusiast magazine Outdoor. His plan to keep print alive is through a bundled digital subscription, which offers access to all his publications for $99 per year, alongside a print subscription to Outdoor and one of his other magazines. The plan, which he likens to a Netflix or Amazon Prime model, also includes perks like apps, books and discounted entry to athletic events. Thurston also owns several other media brands, and hopes to move into feature films, documentaries, and short videos aimed at younger users on platforms like TikTok.