Need to Know: June 19, 2020


You might have heard: America’s newsrooms face a reckoning on race after Floyd protests (Wall Street Journal) 

But did you know: New York Times, Washington Post promise major changes to move forward on race (NPR)

On Thursday evening, both The New York Times and The Washington Post sent memos to staff addressing diversity and equity in their newsrooms. The Post announced 12 new jobs related to race, including a managing editor for diversity and inclusion as well as a new HR director of diversity and inclusion. The paper also announced several new reporting beats, including one focused on domestic terrorism and white nationalism and several focused on how social issues disproportionately affect people of color. The New York Times said it plans to reform its newsroom to both hire more people of color and include them more in the decision process.

+ Noted: Alden Global Capital could take over Tribune Publishing at the end of the month (Poynter); Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund announces $750,000 in grants to support news and information efforts to aid pandemic recovery (Lenfest Institute); Pitchfork staffers stage work stoppage in protest of Condé Nast’s ‘union-busting’ (The Daily Beast); Alliance releases new white paper outlining Google’s dominant market behavior, harming of journalism (News Media Alliance); CityLab has been relaunched under the Bloomberg umbrella (Nieman Lab); CEO of Gannett’s operating company, Paul Bascobert, will leave company, Mike Reed assumes responsibilities (USA Today)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Who should police online speech, algorithms that can spot deep fakes and resistance to mask-wearing. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


Community editorial boards, asking about race, and 11 others ways publishers have responded to Black Lives Matter demonstrations (Medium, LION Publishers)

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the country, local newsrooms have been working to acknowledge and promote the voices of underrepresented members of their communities. The Long Beach Post has created a seven-person community editorial board, whose members will be encouraged to write opinion pieces for the paper. At LAist, the site put out a call for readers to share stories about race, which were published as essays.


France’s top court rejects core of law targeting online hate speech (Reuters)

France’s highest court has said that proposed law which would require social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to remove hateful content within 24 hours, interferes too much with free speech. The law had said that the platforms must remove “clearly illicit” material related to characteristics like race, gender and religion, but free speech advocacy groups had argued that the definition of illicit was too vague, and could pave the way for government censorship.

+ Survey: Most Brits say prevalence of free news stops them taking out a subscription (Press Gazette)


Colin Kaepernick is joining Medium to write about racism (CNN)

Only a few months after launching his own publishing house to elevate writers of color, Colin Kaepernick is joining the board of Medium and will write frequently for the platform about race and civil rights in the U.S. Medium said that Kaepernick will interview prominent activists, leaders and athletes, as well as write for existing Medium outlets like Level, which is aimed at black and brown men, and Momentum, Medium’s new civil rights-focused blog. In a statement, Kaepernick said he hoped to promote more opportunities for black writers in his role as a board member.

+ Flipboard’s Storyboards are a new way to curate and share across the internet (Engadget)

+ Twitter starts rolling out audio tweets on iOS (The Verge)


Objectivity vs. transparency: Let journalists be opinionated on social (Digital Content Next)

As media Twitter became consumed with Black Lives Matter protests, some journalists who posted content that was deemed political or controversial risked running afoul of their company’s social media policies. In an essay, Chris M. Sutcliffe writes that instead of news organizations trying to stop their employees from sharing their opinions, they should “lean harder into making their journalists the ambassadors for their brands, warts (and opinions) and all.” He argues that having journalists refrain from contributing to public conversations will not make readers trust the news organization more; instead, the anonymity of the reporter makes it easier to believe that the faceless organization has a secret bias.

+ The challenge of precision: As descriptors within the world of LGBTQ+ evolve, the press must be clear (Nieman Storyboard)


Free Press research paper calculates the ‘reporting gap’ as a guide for lawmakers (Free Press)

In a new research paper aimed at spurring public investment in local news, Free Press calculates that the US has lost between 15,000 and 21,000 reporting jobs in the last 15 years, and annual lost-wage value hovering around a billion dollars. The author of the paper and Free Press’s research director S. Derek Turner, said that policymakers could put thousands of reporters back to work “for a tiny percentage of the cost of recent recovery and bailout bills.” The paper is focused primarily on rebuilding in-depth local news coverage.


+ Caught in the mushy middle: How Quartz fell to earth (Digiday)

+ News by the ton: 75 years of US advertising (Benedict Evans)

+ How Fox News’s Harris Faulkner showed the way for political journalism (CJR)

+ Research debates whether automated bots are taking over social media and driving human discourse (The New York Times)

+ Education journalism is losing the talented journalists from diverse backgrounds that it desperately needs (Poynter)