Need to Know: June 23, 2020


You might have heard: Fact-checkers fighting the COVID-19 infodemic drew a surge in readers (Poynter)

But did you know: With the help of platforms, grants and donations, more fact-checking organizations are now for-profit (Poynter)

In the midst of a major media downturn, fact-checking organizations are thriving — adding employees, growing budgets, and becoming for-profit enterprises. The International Fact-Checking Network’s latest survey found that more than half of fact-checking organizations are now for-profit. 43% of the organizations surveyed said that their main income comes from Facebook’s Third Party Fact-Checking Program. Major news organizations like Reuters and USA Today have also developed fact-checking departments, changing the landscape of respondents to the survey.

+ Noted: Knight Foundation today announced 24 recipients of grants to strengthen digital publishing solutions in newsrooms (Knight Foundation); Furloughs will end for reporters and visual journalists from USA Today and local Gannett sites (Poynter); Tennessean fires manager, plans training, donates money to Muslim council after anti-Muslim ad (Tennessean)


7 ways to get your COVID-19 reporting to those who need it

How can you make sure essential information is getting to those who need it most — particularly those who don’t regularly turn to you for news? Fiona Morgan outlines several creative tactics for reaching vulnerable audiences in a physically-distanced world, including sending your reporting to community stakeholders, joining local groups on Facebook or Nextdoor, and partnering with local radio stations.


New York Magazine encouraged New Yorkers to write on posters of the mayor for its cover story (New York Media)

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio has become an unpopular figure in the Big Apple, and to illustrate the point for its latest cover story, New York Magazine wheatpasted portraits of the mayor around the city. Four days later, photographer Marcus Russell Price documented how New Yorkers had interacted with the posters, from a giant X scribbled over de Blasio’s face to one poster with his left eye ripped out. The goal, says photography director Jody Quon, was to give locals a chance to weigh in on their mayor.

+ Earlier: How a Belgian media co-op promoted its stories using bright yellow posters in bookshop windows (European Journalism Centre)


Engagement over revenue: How The New York Times has reoriented its events internationally (Digiday)

With live events shut down the foreseeable future, news organizations who are pivoting to digital events can look beyond their natural borders. The New York Times is focusing their digital events on a global audience, With an expanded team in the UK, the Times is hoping to draw in English-speaking readers around the world with its depth of coverage. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the London-based digital events team held a five-part series about climate change that drew in readers from 65 countries, 16% of whom signed up for the Times’ climate change newsletter.

+ How Solomon’s inclusive storytelling elevated the voices of migrants in Greece during the pandemic (Poynter)


Spotify is testing interactive podcast ads so you never have to remember a promo code again (The Verge)

Promo codes are a common element of podcast advertising, and Spotify is trying to make it easier for consumers to use a promotion discount. The company is testing a feature to allow podcasts to include an embedded link on its episode page that links straight to the advertiser and pre-fills the promo code. The interactive tool will only last as long as the ad campaign, and for now will only be available to some listeners. Last Podcast on the Left will be the first American podcast to try the new interactivity.

+ Google has started adding fact checks to Google Images (Google)


Online and independent: The future of journalism is already here (Engadget)

As media institutions continue to struggle, Andrew Tarantola argues that the future of journalism exists currently in the small publications and one-man-band journalists who are covering news on the streets, especially during events like the recent protests. Abner Hague of California news site Left Coast Right Watch is a solo journalist who is searching for partners who can expand the reach of his videos, while Unicorn Riot is building a system of grassroots reporters who are capable of capturing and livestreaming breaking news, sometimes on a hodgepodge of old equipment.


Journalists believe news and opinion are separate, but readers can’t tell the difference (The Conversation)

In a printed newspaper, opinion and op-ed pieces have their own space, clearly demarcated and separate from the reporting of other sections. But on the internet, the line between an opinion piece and a reported feature is much finer, especially for The New York Times, which was publishing 120 op-eds per week under the recently-departed James Bennet. In an essay, Kevin M. Lerner writes that audiences don’t necessarily know when they’re reading news or opinion, and that it’s up to news organizations to make a clearer distinction between the two.

+ Earlier: Our 2018 study found that only 43% of people could easily sort news from opinion in online-only news or social media