Need to Know: June 23, 2021


You might have heard: Alden closes $633 million purchase of Tribune Publishing; puts newspaper chain in debt and hedge fund president in charge (Chicago Tribune)

But did you know: Alden Global Capital and Tribune’s board are dancing at the edge of the law (Nieman Lab)

The deal to finance Alden’s takeover of Tribune Publishing in May — which saddled Tribune with hundreds of millions in debt — appears self-serving by Tribune’s former board; so much so that it’s surprising board members haven’t been sued by shareholders for acting in their own interests rather than Tribune’s, writes Julie Reynolds. Alden misled shareholders by misrepresenting its cash position; at the time of purchase, Alden did not have the $375 million in cash it promised to buy the rest of Tribune’s shares, Reynolds writes. “Tribune’s board must have known that Alden actually had zero intention of using its own money to complete the deal.” The irony, she adds, is that Tribune’s directors turned down a higher-paying bid from entrepreneur Stewart Bainum Jr., who wanted to return the chain’s papers to local control, because Bainum had not yet secured financing.

+ Noted: Applications to participate in the fundraising campaign NewsMatch 2021 are open (NewsMatch); Robin Sparkman is named president and co-CEO of ProPublica (ProPublica)


Trust Tip: Not the boss? How you can still get buy-in for trust strategies (Trusting News)

You don’t have to be a newsroom leader to start implementing trust-building tactics in your work, and encouraging others to do the same. “You can influence your newsroom’s culture and priorities, even if you’re not in charge,” writes Trusting News Director Joy Mayer. One way to start is by thinking about what’s within your control — could you write an FAQ for coverage you’re involved with, for example, or add “behind-the-scenes” information to your own stories? Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.

+ Are you “at” ONA21 this week? Tomorrow, June 24 at 10 a.m. ET, Trusting News is partnering with the Maynard Institute to look at how journalists can redesign their crime coverage to reduce harm to their communities. (ONA21)


What Chalkbeat learned about source diversity auditing (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

For the past two years, Chalkbeat has been tracking source demographics so it can have a clearer idea of whose voices it’s elevating in its reporting. Knowing that other news organizations were attempting this work, Chalkbeat partnered with the Reynolds Journalism Institute to interview 58 journalists from a range of news outlets to find out more about their source auditing. One of their takeaways was that the shorter a source demographic survey, the better. A brief survey that tracks name, age, gender identity, race/ethnicity, source title or category, ZIP Code, and an option to opt into a source database can provide enough data, writes Caroline Bauman.

+ Related: This week API released an automated, customizable tool that can help newsrooms track their source diversity (American Press Institute)


Indigenous Reporters Network aims to connect and empower Indigenous journalists in Canada (Canadian Association of Journalists)

The Canadian Association of Journalists and Journalists for Human Rights have partnered to launch the Indigenous Reporters Network, which will provide networking and professional development opportunities for Indigenous journalists. The network is meant to increase the number of Indigenous journalists practicing in Canada; something that is “key to meeting media goals for reconciliation,” says Karyn Pugliese, past-president of the CAJ. Journalists interested in joining the network must apply; once approved, their membership fees will be covered for a two-year period.


Tech providers rush to meet needs of hybrid workplaces (Digiday)

During the pandemic companies scrambled to maintain workflows and communication through digital means, experimenting with new tools and finding out through trial and error which ones work for them. And as more organizations now transition from remote working to a long-term hybrid setup, they are ready to invest in tech solutions that can support this new style of work. Tech providers, too, are setting themselves up for a post-pandemic reality — “You’d be hard-pressed, in fact, to find a tech concern large or small that isn’t innovating and marketing itself around the needs of the hybrid office,” writes Tony Case.


Should reporters challenge or ignore election disbelievers? (AP)

The debate continues among political journalists over how to clear many Americans’ lingering suspicions over the legitimacy of the 2020 election; with some arguing that election disbelievers should be given no platform in the news at all. Others “believe that stance goes too far, that a journalist’s role is to question ideas and point out inaccuracies or outright fictions, not to pretend they don’t exist,” writes David Bauder. But while some TV journalists have invited election deniers on the air with the purpose of confronting and challenging their views, that conversation “rarely works out to the viewer’s advantage,” says New York University professor Jay Rosen.


Telling the story of climate change in daily weather news (Axios)

A new tool from the nonprofit climate research center Climate Central will send email alerts to news organizations about developing weather events, with information on the underlying climate change context. The bulletins will come with TV-ready graphics, to prepare weathercasters to routinely discuss local weather events in the overall context of climate change. Meteorologists and weather journalists, who worry the topic is under-covered and over-politicized, are best positioned to bring the global conversation around climate down to the local level, write Sara Fischer and Andrew Freedman.

+ 5 LGBTQ+ news outlets to watch in 2021 (Local Media Association); In The New York Times, a story on eels achieves headline perfection (Nieman Lab)