Need to Know: June 8, 2021


You might have heard: How a culture of listening strengthens reporting and relationships (American Press Institute) 

But did you know: How journalists can provide value to, rather than extract time or resources from, people who are in need (Democracy Fund)

Journalist and engagement specialist Fiona Morgan shares lessons about investing in communities through listening projects, such as the importance of not trying to extract more time or resources from overburdened communities. Knowing that underserved people are often asked about their needs but rarely see any changes as a result, Outlier Media in Detroit focused on using existing information, such as data from a local helpline, to determine what kind of information people needed. In future needs assessments, conducted via text message, Outlier paid users to take surveys about their material needs. 

+ Earlier: How Charlotte’s WSOC-TV dove deep on affordable housing to serve its community — and improved its ratings (Better News)

+ Noted: Outages hit news websites across the globe, including The New York Times and CNN, on Tuesday morning (Reuters); Alden has reportedly canceled the New York Daily News’ summer intern program (Twitter, @NYDNUnion); On Wednesday, the National Press Club Journalism Institute will hold an online program for journalists on improving their coverage of hate crimes (National Press Club Journalism Institute); New Jersey initiative announces inaugural series of grants to fund local news and information (New Jersey Civic Information Consortium); The Atlantic staffers announce intention to unionize (CNN)  


API is hiring for three full-time positions

Director of Inclusion & Audience Growth: This person will work directly with news organizations that want to improve their coverage of communities of color while also creating and sustaining more equitable workplaces.

Deputy Director of Local News Transformation: This person will coordinate and oversee communications strategy and assist in managing the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program, an innovative yearlong change management program for newsrooms.

Senior Web Applications Developer: This person will support API’s Metrics for News application, which contextualizes web analytics for news publishers small and large all across the world.


How newsrooms can help solve burnout (Revue, Typewriting with Shira) 

After dealing with depression, anxiety and burnout herself during the pandemic, Bloomberg Law reporter Shira Stein hosted a panel discussion with three journalists — Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Roxanne Khamsi and Kendra Pierre-Louis — about how to solve burnout in newsrooms. Managers can make simple changes to help journalists disconnect, like telling a writer, especially a remote writer, when an edit is coming so that they don’t need to be hovering on their computer. It’s also important for editing desks to be diverse and culturally sensitive, so that writers don’t feel the need to explain their point of view every time. And newsrooms need to be proactive in preparing for physical and mental risks of reporting, rather than only dealing with problems after they arise. 

+ A guide to resources for local news publishers of color (Knight Foundation) 


How a Hungarian news outlet conveyed a five-year investigation in six minutes (Nieman Reports) 

András Pethő of Hungarian news outlet Direkt36 wanted to clearly tell the story of corruption within the office of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, but he found that even he was having trouble keeping track of the various stories about it after five years of investigation. He turned to the skills he learned in a Documentary Animation course at Harvard to build a short video covering the investigation. The painstaking process involved working with a graphic artist to build a storyboard and then create separate scenes. The six-minute video became the outlet’s most popular one, with most viewers watching the entire thing. Now, when they publish a new piece related to government corruption, they can embed the video as a background explainer. 


Facebook wants to launch its newsletter product — but doesn’t want controversial writers using it (Recode, Vox) 

Later this month, Facebook is launching Bulletin, a subscription-based newsletter platform to compete with Substack and Revue. Facebook’s selling point is its massive community; with 2.85 billion users worldwide, readers can find more potential subscribers via the social media platform. At its launch, the service will feature only a few dozen writers, all of whom have been recruited and paid by Facebook. Unlike Substack (and Facebook itself), Bulletin is avoiding politics and focusing more on topics like fashion, sports, the environment and local news. 

+ Related: Facebook announces that paid online events, fan subscriptions, badges, and independent news products will be free for creators until 2023 (Facebook, @Zuck) 


‘Biden promises the feds will stop trampling journalists’ rights. But we need more than words.’ (The Washington Post) 

Recent revelations about the Department of Justice’s attempts to hunt down reporters’ sources have raised alarms about press freedom. While President Biden’s administration has distanced itself from this practice, Margaret Sullivan says it’s not enough. She says that there needs to be an investigation into the DOJ’s attempt to subpoena journalists’ phone and email records, and that department policies related to free press need to be reviewed and strengthened. “Firm rules, not just guidelines,” she suggests. “And there should be penalties — suspensions, demotions, even jobs lost — for those prosecutors who abuse them.” 


7 things journalists should know about guns (Journalist’s Resource) 

Guns are a divisive issue in America, and when journalists make mistakes related to guns in their reporting, many readers — especially gun owners — consider it to be bias or malice rather than error. This guide offers seven important facts that reporters should keep in mind when covering guns. For instance, media coverage surrounding guns often involve mass shootings, but most gun deaths are from suicides and homicides. And terminology is important; reporters unfamiliar with firearms should consider taking a gun safety course to become more aware of the correct terms.