Need to Know: July 7, 2022


You might have heard: A panel to combat disinformation becomes a victim of it (The New York Times)

But did you know: Disinformation has become another untouchable problem in Washington (The New York Times)

When the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was creating a board to monitor security threats caused by disinformation, critics on the right and left immediately dismissed the idea; the board was “paused” within a few weeks. Despite a belief among many in the federal government that disinformation is exacerbating emergencies and threatening democracy, any attempts to address the issue have become mired in partisanship, write Steven Lee Myers and Eileen Sullivan. “You can’t even use the word ‘disinformation’ today without it having a political connotation,” said John Cohen, a former Homeland Security official. 

+ Noted: Confidence in U.S. institutions, including newspapers and television news, is down (Gallup); Apple announces ‘Lockdown Mode’ to add a new layer of protection for targets of sophisticated hacking attacks (Reuters); Poynter and RAND partner to connect journalists and public policy experts (Poynter); The News Product Alliance has added six new product guides to its Product Kit (News Product Alliance) 


Protect your staff from online abuse with a formal policy and a response plan (Better News)

In this piece from January, The Seattle Times discusses how it created an online abuse policy to report incidents and a plan to respond. Journalists, particularly women and BIPOC journalists, are often targeted by online harassment and sometimes by more intense abuse efforts meant to intimidate and silence our reporting. With guidance from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the paper crafted a clear policy that included assigning responsibilities during an attack and setting up a reporting site that journalists could use to collect screenshots and document other evidence of abuse.


Prism aims to make wellness stories more accessible, less cringe (Nieman Lab) 

Wellness information is everywhere online, and newsletter Prism is focused on making that information more accessible and flexible, writes Hanaa’ Tameez. The newsletter is an offshoot of a creative studio, Parallel L.A., but editors say it is editorially independent. Though delivered as an email, each quarterly issue is designed as a “parcel” focused on a specific theme. Editors have focused on bringing in writers who are not necessarily known for their relationship to the wellness community. The outlet turns all of its stories into audio versions, and is considering moving into podcasts. 


Bild’s #TogetherAgainstCorona campaign encourages vaccinations in German (INMA) 

At the end of 2021, as COVID cases rose again in Germany, more than 150 countries joined in an effort to publicly encourage people to get vaccinated. The newspaper Bild was the exclusive media sponsor when the campaign began, and it provided free ad space in print and online to spread the message, writes Claudius Senst, the CEO of Bild Group and Welt Group. Bild is the most-circulated print newspaper in Germany, and roughly half of Germans will interact with the brand every month. The campaign was seen as a massive success; after its launch, another 850 companies joined in the effort. 


What can journalist-influencers bring to newsrooms and what do they expect in return (The Fix)

News outlets often thrive on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but struggle on networks like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram. A new report by Salla-Rosa Leinonen, a producer at the Finnish Public Broadcaster Yle, finds that journalists who do well as influencers tend to connect with followers based on shared values, something traditional newsrooms often avoid. The report found that audiences said they wanted the same thing from news organizations as from influencers — authenticity, transparency, engagement and quality content.


Please, pundits, stop trying to predict the future. You’re bad at it. (The Washington Post) 

Over and over again, political pundits’ hot takes have been proven incorrect, writes Margaret Sullivan. After her colleague Erik Wemple documented the many pundits who claimed confidently that Roe v. Wade would not be overturned by this Supreme Court, Sullivan calls out David Brooks and Chris Cillizza for their pessimistic predictions that the Jan. 6 hearings would be ineffective and unconvincing. Pundits are “bad-take artists — especially when it comes to making political predictions,” she writes. “And their flagrant wrongness seems to draw virtually no repercussions, unless you count being mocked on Twitter.”


A year after UNC’s journalism school lost Nikole Hannah-Jones, the fallout continues (Poynter) 

One year after a protracted battle over tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media is still picking up the pieces from the incident. The school has had its accreditation reduced to provisional and given two years to improve its diversity and inclusivity efforts, while the American Association of University of Professors censured the entire UNC system for institutional racism. Raul Reis joins the school as dean this month, and will be tasked with finding a replacement for the position that would have gone to Hannah-Jones.