Need to Know: March 16, 2020

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


You might have heard: Coronavirus’ sports shutdown puts Sun-Times sports department to the test (Chicago Sun-Times)

But did you know: ESPN scrambling to figure out programming while live sports shut down indefinitely (CNBC)

Last week, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League suspended their seasons, while March Madness basketball tournaments and other collegiate championships were canceled. Disney-owned ESPN and its other all-sports networks have to fill those programming slots, with options that include airing esports and reruns of classic games or the channel’s “30 for 30” documentaries. ESPN and its sister networks, which earn about $11 billion annually, are expected to take a hit.

+ Related: After a stick-to-sports mandate led to a staff exodus, Deadspin returned – into a world without sports (Deadspin)

+ Noted: Illinois bill would create local journalism task force (Local News Initiative); In Seattle, The Stranger temporarily lays off 18 employees (The Stranger); Vermont Public Radio postpones its membership drive (Vermont Public Radio)


How API works remotely

As many newsrooms and offices move to remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic, API staffers Liz Worthington and Katie Kutsko share tips on how to manage working remotely for team meetings, group training and working with clients. Some of their suggestions also deal with feeling isolated while working from home. They recommend creating a routine, making time for breaks and communicating with managers and coworkers daily with the adage, “When in doubt, default to overcommunication.”

+ Related: Writer David Dennis Jr. has some advice on how to not burn out while working from home. (Twitter, @DavidDTSS)


Oregon news organizations are collaborating on coronavirus coverage (The Oregonian)

In an effort to provide as many Oregonians as possible with reliable information on covid-19, The Oregonian, Oregon Public Broadcasting and more than a half dozen other news organizations are co-publishing stories on the virus. “Given the complexity of the novel coronavirus, the many impacts on communities – health, school, travel, the economy – no one organization in the state can effectively serve Oregonians with necessary coverage,” said Malheur Enterprise and Salem Reporter Publisher Les Zaitz, who came up with the idea. Therese Bottomly writes that this collaboration will allow the newsrooms to cover the topic from a wide range of angles without duplicating each other’s reporting.

+ Related: Student journalists formed the Ohio Student Media Wire to share content, ideas and collaborate (Twitter, @bri_scebbi)

+ A guide for reporting on covid-19 during information overload (Twitter, @resolvephilly); In Cleveland, The Plain Dealer is asking readers to share stories about acts of kindness during the pandemic (The Plain Dealer)


Notes from delivering a journalism accelerator (European Journalism Centre)

In 2018, the European Journalism Centre developed its Engaged Journalism Accelerator program, which provided grants, coaching and other resources to European news organizations. Out of the program’s dozen grant recipients, 11 said the program improved the public’s awareness of their brand, and seven said the mentoring they received helped increase their knowledge or skill level in technology or community-driven product development. Five grant recipients said the program led to additional funding.

+ ‘The only people working more are journalists and doctors’: Italy correspondents on reporting during coronavirus lockdown (Press Gazette)


Russian election meddling is back via Ghana and Nigeria and in your feeds (CNN)

After Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the country has outsourced the job to Ghana and Nigeria, where trolls are working to increase division in an already polarized United States. On social media, the troll farms mostly post about American racial issues, sometimes with graphic language and images. A CNN investigation estimates that 200 of the accounts from Ghana may have reached at least hundreds of thousands of people online. As a result of CNN’s reporting, Facebook removed dozens of accounts, pages and Instagram accounts.

+ How speech patterns lead to hiring bias (Harvard Business Review); New privacy bill would let consumers delete their data (Media Post)


Fox Business benches Trish Regan after outcry over coronavirus comments (The New York Times)

The network placed “Trish Regan Primetime” on hiatus after the anchor described coronavirus as “another attempt to impeach the president,” alleging without evidence that Democrats have devised a “mass hysteria to encourage a market sell-off.” Meanwhile, at Fox Business’ sister network, Fox News’ top brass wrote a staff memo last week that outlined plans for remote work and to ban non-essential business travel. “Please keep in mind that viewers rely on us to stay informed during a crisis of this magnitude and we are providing an important public service to our audience by functioning as a resource for all Americans,” the memo said.

+ Related: Fox News hosts encourage viewers to fly even as the network bans non-essential travel for its own people (The Daily Beast)

+ From The Texas Tribune’s Bobby Blanchard, a word on how the framing of news stories can make the difference between causing or stopping a panic (Twitter, @bobbycblanchard)


This beautiful library in ‘Minecraft’ lets people access the work of censored journalists from anywhere (Fast Company)

Countries that embrace censorship block access to news sites and social media, but a Reporters Without Borders project bucks some of those restrictions in the virtual world of “Minecraft.” In the game’s Uncensored Library, created by BlockWorks and MediaMonks, players can read articles from censored journalists around the world. Among the sites included in the library are Mada Masr, which has been banned in Egypt for three years, and the activism-focused Russian site

+ “The New York Times,” the unreliable source and the exposé that missed the mark (NPR)