Need to Know: July 9, 2020


You might have heard: How The 19th will provide the benefits and lifestyle that allow employees to advance in their careers and manage their personal lives (WAN-IFRA)

But did you know: A post-pandemic world could pave the way for women in newsrooms (WAN-IFRA)

The work-from-home reality that the coronavirus pandemic has imposed on most newsrooms could demonstrate that remote work and flexible scheduling are fully effective — which, in the long run, could mean that more women end up in newsroom leadership positions. Women have historically been absent in leadership positions, with family and caretaking demands acting as a significant barrier to career progression. But greater flexibility in the workplace could change that. “I think this moment is, I hope, going to prove to everyone that we know best and we can manage our schedules and our lives and still produce extraordinary products without being tethered to a chair in a newsroom,” said Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO of The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom covering women and politics.

+ Noted: Hedge fund Alden Capital Group challenges hedge fund Chatham Asset Management’s bid for McClatchy, further postponing the auction of the company that was set for this morning (McClatchy) LION Publishers and the Google News Initiative are launching a Startups Lab to help entrepreneurs launch a local news business (Twitter, @ckrewson); NBC News Chairman Cesar Conde wants a 50% diverse workforce (Los Angeles Times); Participate in this tech stack survey to help the Lenfest Institute and the Membership Puzzle Project create a comprehensive guide to membership in news (Lenfest Institute)


Actions to improve diversity — in your newsroom and your coverage (Better News)

We’ve compiled best practices and creative tactics for improving diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in newsrooms. Learn from news outlets like WFAE, which used a podcasting contest to reach diverse audiences; Minnesota Public Radio, which formed a grant-funded media coalition to examine “problematic racial narratives” in news coverage; and The Seattle Times, which created an internal Slack channel to let people speak up about insensitive coverage — before it gets published.


Student newsrooms, with less institutional knowledge, are freer to experiment (ONA)

With much higher turnover than a professional newsroom, it’s difficult for institutional knowledge to get passed down in a student newsroom — which means they’re often more open to experimentation, writes Taylor Blatchford. For example, in 2019 the University of North Carolina and Duke University’s student newsrooms teamed up to launch a competitive fundraiser based on the schools’ historic sports rivalry. Also last year, the Pendulum created the first bilingual issue in Elon University’s history. And since the coronavirus pandemic has emptied out school campuses, many student newsrooms have pivoted to digital distribution via newsletters, social media and e-editions.

+ Resolve Philly has created a Spanish translation style guide for COVID-19 coverage (Google Docs)


Unmasking the actors behind COVID-19 disinformation (GIJN)

Alexandre Capron, a reporter for France 24, used a set of network-tracking tools — including Hoaxy,, and Facebook’s increasingly powerful Transparency box — to identify the administrators of a group of Facebook pages that were spreading COVID-19 disinformation designed to exploit social rifts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the large Congolese diaspora in France. Who were the culprits? A 20-year-old college student and his 16-year-old accomplice, both based in the DRC capital of Kinshasa. “We make up stories to get followers. We give our social media users new information that they haven’t read elsewhere,” the college student told Capron. Whether they’re lone teenagers or government agencies, experts agree that unmasking disinformation agents can be a more effective — and sustainable — strategy than merely debunking their claims.

+ A list of essential open-source plugins and tools to “help keep reporters breathing down the neck of those peddling misinformation” (Google Docs)

+ In Kenya, giant balloons are now delivering internet connections (Medium, Loon Blog)


Writing UX copy for buttons and links (

With attention spans evolving as they have in the age of the internet, most people no longer read, they scan. That makes buttons and links even more important than body copy on web pages, writes Tobias Van Schneider. “Link or button copy serves two purposes: To set the user’s expectations and propel them forward. Meaning, one or two words can make or break your product experience.” Link and button copy should clearly describe what action the user will be taking — for example, eschew vague wording like “join us” or “learn more” for the more straightforward “sign up” or “see membership options.”

+ Earlier: The keys to an effective subscription offer page


News leaders and tech platforms must safeguard journalists from digital harassment (Poynter)

Digital harassment, which journalists are facing in increasing measure, can take an exacting toll on the news industry — journalists who have been targets of it may change how they tell a story to avoid the risk of another attack, or they may eventually leave the profession. While many reporters have developed tactics for ensuring their safety online, “Ultimately, the burden should not be on vulnerable reporters to solve the problem,” write Gina M. Masullo and Carolyn McGourty Supple. Tech platforms can do more to shut down vitriolic posts aimed at journalists, and news leaders should take responsibility for creating a culture in which journalists can speak up about online abuse without worrying about being removed from a high-profile beat or perceived as overly sensitive.

+ Related: Now you can register as a journalist on Facebook and get stronger security features (Facebook)


Toxic online conversations about coronavirus on the rise (Reuters Institute)

A new study from the Reuters Institute found that toxic messages amount to 21% of the overall conversation touching on the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of the World Health Organization in the crisis. The study defines a toxic comment as a “rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment that is likely to make people leave a discussion.” Researchers detected coordinated efforts to boost toxicity, most of them targeting the WHO and China. They also found a higher level of toxicity in social media posts mentioning political leaders and the pandemic — notably, over 30% of messages mentioning President Trump are expected to be toxic.