Need to Know: June 29, 2020

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


You might have heard: About half of Americans said they didn’t trust newspapers, cable or online news to accurately report on COVID-19, according to an Axios/Ipsos poll (Axios)

But did you know: Black, Hispanic and white adults feel the news media misunderstand them, but for very different reasons (Pew Research Center)

About 60% of Americans said news organizations don’t understand people like them, according to a Pew survey conducted before the current racial justice protests. Black adults were most likely to believe the media misunderstands their personal characteristics, while Hispanic Americans were most likely to think news organizations don’t understand their interests. Meanwhile, white adults believe news organizations fail to grasp their political views.

+ Noted: Washington Post editor Marty Baron killed a Bob Woodward story that would have unmasked Brett Kavanaugh as an anonymous source for one of his books (New York Times); L.A. Times to settle suit over discriminatory pay practices (NPR); BuzzFeed News fires senior reporter for plagiarism (The Wrap); Curbed will stop publishing Curbed LA (Curbed); Oklahoma reporter who covered Trump’s Tulsa rally last week tested positive for COVID-19 (Associated Press)


The primaries so far: Are states ready for November?
We spoke with elections expert Nate Persily about states’ preparedness for the November election and which issues journalists should be covering, including poll worker shortages and changing rules around absentee balloting. “We desperately need more accurate reporting about the mechanics of the election,” Persily said.


News networks to team up on convention coverage to limit staff exposure (The Wall Street Journal)

CNN, MSNBC and Fox News are coordinating some of their political coverage for the 2020 election in an effort to reduce the risk of journalists being infected during the coronavirus pandemic. The networks will share a video feed for the Democratic convention in Milwaukee, Wis. and Republican convention events in Jacksonville, Fla. and Charlotte, N.C. The networks are exploring how to produce their coverage remotely while making contingency plans for the possibility that mail-in ballots could delay election results.


Afghan government backtracks over rule forcing media to reveal sources (The Guardian)

After an outcry over amendments to change Afghanistan’s media laws, the government revoked a rule that would have required journalists to reveal their sources without a court order. During the coming weeks, journalists and the government will further discuss the country’s media freedoms, which were expanded after the Taliban’s fall in 2001. Journalists in Afghanistan continue to face the threat of militant attacks, but no journalists have been jailed in about 20 years.


Lawmakers unveil proposal to make social media moderation more transparent (The Washington Post)

Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, social networks are protected from being sued for content on their platforms. A bill filed last week, the PACT Act, would require companies to remove illegal user content within 24 hours of a court order. The legislation would also give social media platforms 14 days to notify users about moderation decisions and provide information on how to appeal things like post removals and bans. 

+ Facebook announced new policies to remove content that incites violence or suppresses voting after Unilever joined growing ad boycott (Wall Street Journal)


Overcoming systemic racism begins in our own newsrooms (Poynter)

In a piece that explores the tensions between her white and Latinx identities, Amanda Zamora, publisher and co-founder of The 19th, writes that newsrooms should examine how they allow white privilege to minimize the voices of journalists of color. One area to consider is the opaque system of “secret handshakes” needed to negotiate for a salary, which Zamora argues benefits white journalists over their colleagues of color. For this reason, The 19th plans to make public its starting salaries for open positions.

+ Related: Being the only Black woman journalist in the room is “a privilege and a prison” (The Philadelphia Inquirer); In 20 years I’m going to run your newsroom. Here’s how to help me get there. (Poynter)


How PBS Utah is helping local book clubs confront challenging issues (Current)

Two years ago, PBS Utah launched Book Club in a Box, a project that aims to foster conversations about difficult topics by providing book club members with themed public media documentaries and books. The program, which delves into issues like racism, gender identity and religion, is an alternative to a public film screening with a speaker or panel where attendees may be less likely to participate in the discussion. Laura Durham, community engagement manager for PBS Utah, writes that the material “inspires the best in humanity; it shows us a world larger than ourselves, invites us in and shows us how to bridge divides and practice empathy.”