Need to Know: June 15, 2020

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


You might have heard: Axios told employees they’re allowed to protest, breaking with industry standards barring activism (Axios)

But did you know: CNN relaxes some rules around donations and community meetings (The Wrap)

In an email to staff on Friday, CNN president Jeff Zucker said workers can’t protest or donate to political groups, a policy meant to maintain journalists’ objectivity in topics they are covering. However, the network is loosening its policies to allow staff to donate to 501(c)(3) nonprofits that don’t have “leeway to engage in political activities and lobbying.” Another policy change will allow staff to attend vigils and other community gatherings.

+ Noted: LION Publishers creates membership tier for those who want to launch a publication (LION Publishers); The National Association of Black Journalists urges publications to capitalize the word “Black” (National Association of Black Journalists); The Dallas Morning News tests reporter-specific promo codes for subscriptions (Nieman Lab)


Today is the last day to apply for free access to API’s Metrics for News tool for elections coverage

This analytics dashboard, which API is offering to 60 newsrooms for free through November, helps newsrooms better understand how their communities are engaging with 2020 elections coverage. API also will provide training, coaching and other resources to help selected newsrooms identify audience needs and increase engagement. Apply here.


Resolve Philly to conduct a ‘narrative audit’ of protest coverage (Twitter, @resolvephilly)

The audit will analyze how local newsrooms approached the story overall, as well as their sourcing and language used to describe the events. The audit will also examine how much coverage was devoted to certain story angles, such as police brutality or looting. Resolve Philly plans to conduct a survey seeking the public’s thoughts on protest coverage, with results of the survey and audit to be released in a public report.


Philippine journalists convicted of cyber libel (Rappler)

Today, two Philippine journalists were found guilty of cyber libel charges amid an ongoing crackdown on press freedoms in the Philippines. Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr., a former Rappler researcher and writer, were both ordered to pay fines of 400,000 Philippine pesos (almost $8,000 USD). They also each received sentences of six months to six years in jail, but they plan to appeal the ruling and won’t have to serve time during that process. The charges were connected to a 2012 story that exposed a chief justice’s connection to businessmen, one of whom would later file charges against the journalists.

+ Earlier: Last month, a cease-and-desist order forced the largest broadcaster in the Philippines off the air. (The Guardian)


Facebook pitched tool to allow employers to block words in workplace chat platform (The Intercept)

During an internal presentation last week, Facebook suggested its collaboration platform, Facebook Workplace, could be used to blacklist words like “unionize.” In response to opposition from its employees, Facebook removed the presentation and a product manager apologized for the union example. Used by companies like Walmart and the government of Singapore, Facebook Workplace is a Slack-style platform with a news feed and trending topics list.

+ Earlier: Two weeks ago, hundreds of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout to protest the company’s lack of response to posts from President Trump. (The New York Times)


The magical thinking of high conflict (Medium)

In response to James Bennet’s resignation from head of the New York Times editorial page, Amanda Ripley emphasizes the importance of using reporting, rather than op-eds and moral positions, to add context to events during moments of conflict. Ripley also suggests that focusing on issues like the op-ed obscures the reality that trust in the media is declining and people won’t be persuaded by messengers they don’t trust. (For reference, just 7% of Republican voters use the New York Times as a source for political and election news.) “Mainstream media organizations left the door open for the propagandists at Fox News decades ago by utterly failing to understand vast swaths of the country — black and white,” she writes.


ABC News executive placed on administrative leave during investigation into alleged misconduct (HuffPost)

More than a dozen human resources complaints at the network center on Barbara Fedida, a senior vice president whom former staffers accused of fostering a toxic work environment that caused employees to leave or be forced out. According to a six-month investigation from HuffPost, ABC News has spent millions of dollars in settlements connected to her misconduct, at least one of which involved racial discrimination allegations. ABC News said the network is investigating the claims against Fedida, including an alleged pattern of racist comments.

+ The voices behind the clash at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (City Lab)