Need to Know: June 22, 2020

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


You might have heard: Amid ongoing discussions about race, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and NBC News have opted to capitalize “Black” (Associated Press)

But did you know: AP changes writing style to capitalize ″b″ in Black (Associated Press)

One Juneteenth, after debating the issue for more than two years, the Associated Press updated its style guide to capitalize the words “Black” and “Indigenous.” In the AP Stylebook, other terms identifying people’s race, ethnicity and culture, including Latino, Asian American and Native American, have been capitalized for years, and the wire service plans to decide whether or not to capitalize the word “white” during the next month.

+ Noted: At tech publisher Digital Trends, staffers see a “white bro culture” (Digiday); Vice Media is investigating allegations of a toxic workplace at Refinery29 (CNN)


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Publishers experiment with sending news by text (The Wall Street Journal)

Publications like The New York Times have abandoned texting initiatives in recent years, concluding that it’s resource-heavy and best for specific topics or short-term coverage. During the pandemic, however, several newsrooms have dipped their toes into texting projects that give readers quick updates and an opportunity to engage with journalists. Since March, about 2,500 Arizona Republic readers have signed up for the paper’s texts, which address everything from information on breaking news to questions for the audience. Readers have responded with story ideas, tips and their biggest questions about COVID-19.

+ Today, Chalkbeat is launching a project to showcase young people’s stories about how they are being impacted by sustained protests and conversations about racism (Chalkbeat); Listening project looks at Chicago’s barriers to information access (City Bureau)


Refugee journalists bring access to stories that would otherwise be missed (Nieman Reports)

Refugee journalists can help news organizations reach new audiences, make their coverage more diverse and gain the trust of sources that outlets may have missed in the past. French nonprofit Maison des Journalistes helps exiled journalists adjust to their new lives, offering professional guidance and internships, as well as shelter while they wait to gain refugee status. However, barriers remain for refugee journalists to return to the industry, and 80% of those supported by the organization still aren’t working in news.

+ The Telegraph could lose dozens of non-editorial jobs after cutting branded content (Press Gazette)


Court rules law barring disclosure of actors’ ages violates First Amendment (Los Angeles Times)

A 2017 California law blocked websites from listing actors’ ages, a measure that the Screen Actors Guild argued would reduce age discrimination. IMDB, the Internet Movie Database, challenged the law, which a federal appeals court struck down on Friday. The court ruled that the measure was unconstitutional despite its efforts to address age discrimination, an issue that came to the forefront during the last decade as actors including Maggie Gyllenhaal said they’d been rejected for roles due for being perceived as “too old.”

+ A federal judge denied the Trump administration’s request to block publication of John Bolton’s White House memoir (Washington Post)


When media rely on what police say, they miss key truths about crime, Black communities (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

For Will Bunch, the words “police said” are “the two most insidious words in modern journalism.” Crime stories frequently depend on the word of law enforcement, although information from police isn’t always accurate. At the same time, there’s the often-cited newsroom mantra, “If it bleeds, it leads,” with its implicit push for crime scoops at the expense of covering issues like redlining, food insecurity and mass incarceration, Bunch writes. He adds that making newsrooms more diverse won’t fix these issues if media outlets don’t find ways to build a more inclusive culture that draws on the experiences of people from different backgrounds.


Current news cycle ushers in a new era in creativity for print (The Drum)

New York Times chief creative officer Tom Bodkin said that during the pandemic, the paper has designed dramatic pages that rise to this extraordinary moment. In March, for instance, the paper ran a graph of unemployment claims with a staggering increase from 2020 that crept up the entire front page. “It is in demand that we turn up the volume,” Bodkin said. Last week, The New Yorker ran a cover that conveys the history of violence against Black people in the United States, with victims superimposed over the body of George Floyd. On its website, the magazine shared the history behind the figures and events captured in this evocative image.

+ Morning Edition commemorated Juneteenth with an on-air reading of the Emancipation Proclamation (NPR)