Need to Know: June 14, 2019

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism


You might have heard: Republicans are more likely than Democrats to see made-up news as a serious problem for the country (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Populists prefer television to online news — but are sticking to Facebook as others leave (Nieman Lab)

According to the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report, people with populist attitudes prefer TV news to online news — with the exception of Facebook, where many populists say they have been spending more time over the last 12 months. Those with non-populist attitudes use online news as their main source of news. In the U.S., where the level of left-right polarization is greater than the level of populist polarization, the report found that trust in the media has collapsed among right-leaning audiences, while it has increased among leftist audiences. “If liberal America were a country it would have similar trust levels to the Netherlands,” tweeted researcher Antonis Kalogeropoulos. “Conservative Americans have lower trust rates than Greeks or South Koreans.” Globally, the majority of news outlets have audiences that are predominately non-populist left, such as The New York Times, researchers wrote.

+ Noted: Real estate billionaire Sam Zell and other former Tribune executives reach $200 million settlement resolving allegations of fraudulent transactions (Reuters); More than 200 researchers sign letter supporting Knight Institute’s proposal to allow independent research of Facebook’s platform (Knight First Amendment Institute); GQ ran a photo of “tech titans” in which they Photoshopped in two women to stand among the 15 men (BuzzFeed News); Pulitzer Center launches the Connected Coastlines Initiative, which aims to boost local coverage of climate change (Pulitzer Center); Business Insider and eMarketer will merge in 2020 (Reuters)


Covering the ‘citizens agenda’ in the 2020 campaign (PressThink)

Doing a better job of covering the 2020 campaign starts with asking a simple question of your audience: What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes? Keep asking that question, and use the responses to draft a “citizens agenda” that will guide campaign coverage that reflects the issues voters care most about. Publish the agenda as a live product, and continue updating it as your audience reacts and the campaign unfolds. “You cannot keep from getting sucked into Trump’s agenda without a firm grasp on your own,” writes Jay Rosen, the originator of the citizens agenda approach. “But where does that agenda come from? It can’t come from campaign journalists. Who cares what they think? It has to originate with the voters you are trying to inform.”

+ Earlier: LA Times reporter Matt Pearce used a simple Google form to bring his readers into his campaign reporting (Nieman Lab)


Singapore’s anti-misinformation law is among the most comprehensive in the world. Here’s why that’s problematic. (Poynter)

Press freedom advocates are worried that legitimate news outlets and journalists could get caught up in Singapore’s sweeping legislation aimed at controlling fake news, which gives the government the ability to issue takedown and correction orders. “This law will give Singapore’s ministers yet another tool to suppress and censor news that does not fit with the People’s Action Party-dominated government’s authoritarian narrative,” said Shawn Crispin, senior Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Democracy watchdog Freedom House has rated Singapore’s press as “not free” and the internet as “partly free,” making it likely that the government could use the legislation as a tool to limit free expression. Critics also say Singapore’s legislation could inspire authoritarian regimes around the world to create similar measures aimed at chilling media coverage.


Inviting journalists to take time to learn (Digiday)

“When everyone’s just trying to survive to the end of the daily sprint, it can feel like a real chore to participate in anything that doesn’t get today’s product to the finish line,” writes Joy Mayer, director of Trusting News. And that’s partially on the people who create training and other resources for journalists. We could do a better job of making those resources more digestible and — more to the point — indispensable. Some basic rules for anyone designing professional development resources (for journalists or any other crowd): Keep information specific and actionable, share it in multiple formats (a well-crafted tweet will probably get more eyeballs than a lengthy report), offer only your best work and do so repetitively. Sharing only your best work multiple times means it will have the biggest impact and, hopefully, do lasting good for the audience you’re trying to reach.


Severe weather pits meteorologists against some viewers (Columbia Journalism Review)

Meteorologists who interrupt TV programs to bring severe weather warnings to viewers are often pelted with complaints from those particularly invested in the shows. (“No one cares about these storm warnings … Show the game!”) And with severe weather events on the rise, many news stations are grappling with how to best manage those complaints. Debbie Petersmark, the vice president and general manager of WILX Media in Lansing, Mich., once replied to roughly 400 emails around a tornado alert in 2018. “Once people realize we’re listening and are taking their comments into consideration, and in some cases just hearing them, it generally tends to diffuse the anger,” she said.

+ Sarah Sanders’ legacy: The death of the White House press briefing, Brian Stelter writes (CNN); Responses on Twitter: “No….. I think it’s the lying.” (Twitter, @EdgeofSports)


Spotify mimics the radio with a news and music playlist for drivers (The Verge)

This week Spotify launched a new playlist called “Your Daily Drive” that sprinkles news updates from NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and Public Radio International among users’ own music and music recommendations from Spotify. The news updates and music will change throughout the day, unlike the platform’s other popular playlists. However, the playlist doesn’t yet include weather and traffic, the two things most relevant to commuters.


+ After the deaths of two teenage boys in its community from fentanyl overdoses, the Prescott News Network in Prescott Valley, Ariz., launched a campaign to “Stop Fentanyl Now.” In November, one of the newspapers ran a community call to action on its front page featuring a large black box that read “Our Children Are Dying.” “I’ve been receiving a lot of emails from members of the public as well as victims, families and people who have some sort of stake in the matter that have thanked us for being not only reactive, but proactive because there have already been a number of deaths,” said reporter Max Efrein. “We’ve also noticed there has been somewhat of a slow down within the drug distribution in our area.” (Editor & Publisher)

+ Twitch is emerging as a favorite new platform for publishers, and believe it or not, they’re making money off it. (Digiday)

+ “I won’t say product management will save particular news organizations from failing. But I will say that having a strong product culture and good product teams is essential if you want to succeed as a news organization”: Anita Zielina, director of leadership and innovation at the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY, explains away the fuzziness around terms like “product management” and “product thinking” and what they mean for news organizations. (Local Media Association)