Need to Know: March 18, 2021


You might have heard: TV news outlets overrepresent extreme partisans in Congress (The Journalist’s Resource)

But did you know: Nightly network news and cable news aren’t telling the same coronavirus story (RTDNA)

A new study from the Center for Media Engagement comparing coronavirus coverage on cable news versus network news shows that “cable networks are politicizing the virus — seemingly putting profit and partisanship above public health,” writes Katalina Deaven. Cable networks Fox News and MSNBC, for example, discussed partisans more often than health officials and organizations; while nightly news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC tended to focus on information coming from health officials and organizations. The language differed between cable news outlets as well; with Fox being more likely to discuss the virus in terms of its impact on business and the economy, MSNBC in terms of the scale of the virus, and CNN in terms of prevention, testing and vaccines.

+ Noted: Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and The Philadelphia Inquirer announce new partnership initiatives (PABJ); Arizona State University is launching a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Literacy (News Co/Lab); Applications are open for the Tiny News Collective, which will provide support to local news start-ups (Tiny News Collective)


Local news sustainability: API advisers highlight three paths forward                    

Supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation, API has sent advisers into 23 U.S.-based newsrooms to support their efforts to reach or maintain long-term sustainability. We’ve highlighted three outlets — a large metro daily, a hyperlocal community newspaper and a digital startup — whose challenges are typical of many media organizations, and shown the steps they’ve taken toward sustainability; including creating a newsletter aimed at driving digital subscriptions, reaching new audiences through social media, and introducing key listening and engagement strategies into their work.


AAJA guidance for journalists on the Atlanta shootings (AAJA)

In the wake of the shootings in Atlanta, which killed eight people, six of whom were Asian, the Asian American Journalists Association has released a set of recommendations for the ongoing coverage. It urges newsrooms to take caution with language that could contribute to the hypersexualization of Asian women, which has been linked to violence and discrimination; especially when describing the businesses where the killings occurred. They should be described as “spas,” “businesses,” or by their proper names; avoiding terms that could imply the places are linked to prostitution. AAJA also recommends that journalists cover the shootings in the context of the current rise in attacks on Asian Americans.

+ Related: Tips for coping after reporting distressing and traumatic stories (IJNet); The AAPI Journalists Therapy Relief Fund is live — donate or apply (Twitter, @weischoice)


Behind the Japanese paradox: why news media of a tech-driven country are stuck in an offline world (Reuters Institute)

Although Japan’s economy — the third-largest in the world — is fueled by technological innovation and high-tech manufacturing, the proportion of its citizens who pay for online news is among the lowest globally. Its print newspaper circulation, however, is the highest in the world. Digital subscriptions are generally priced the same as print, which could explain the low conversion rates. Most Japanese newspapers are not investing in digital strategies, says Daisuke Furuta, former editor of BuzzFeed Japan and currently a teaching fellow with the Google News Lab. “Japanese newspapers have thrived with print and are hesitant to move to digital. This is a, so called, ‘innovator’s dilemma.’”


New research shows how Facebook could reduce animosity between Republicans and Democrats (The Journalist’s Resource)

Although there is ample evidence to show that Facebook locks users into political echo chambers, a new study found that users are willing to read news articles featuring opposing views when they appear in their feeds. The study also found that participants’ attitudes toward members of the opposing political party improved after they were exposed to their points of view. “Consuming news from the other side allows [people] to understand the other side better, even if they completely disagree with those positions,” said Ro’ee Levy, one of the study’s authors. Levy said that their experiment of exposing Facebook users to different news sources is a “simple scalable nudge” that Facebook could do to help decrease polarization. The takeaway for journalists, he added, is to more fully explain Democrats’ and Republicans’ stances on controversial issues and the reasoning behind their positions.


Rewarding good subscriber content is not the same as rewarding clickbait (One Man & His Blog)

Indignation was running high on Twitter this week after the Guardian reported that the London newspaper The Daily Telegraph was mulling a plan to “link some elements of journalists’ pay to the popularity of their articles.” However, the Guardian framed the piece poorly (or people on Twitter didn’t actually read the full article), argues Adam Tinworth — while “popularity” implies traffic, The Telegraph’s plan is to reward journalists who attract and retain the most subscribers, according to editor Chris Evans. “The discussion of the piece [on Twitter] is full of performative outrage at incentivising clickbait, and precious little discussion of the nuance of trying to encourage journalists to write pieces that contribute to a subscriber-based business model,” writes Tinworth.


College Media Madness: More than two-dozen student newsrooms are facing off in a fundraising challenge (Poynter)

This week kicks off the NCAA March Madness tournament — and with it, a fundraising challenge for student newspapers around the country. The students will compete to raise the most money in donations by April 5, when March Madness ends. The Daily Orange at Syracuse University is spearheading the competition. The only requirement for participating newsrooms is a donation page with visible totals — and newsrooms can sign up until March 19. In less than two days, the competition has already raised more than $11,000. “With more planning, I’d love to see a foundation or individual donor who’d give some sort of prize to the winning newsroom, like matching their donations,” said fundraising coordinator Haley Robertson. “If this keeps going well, that’s a place where it could grow.”

+ Earlier: How the UNC-Duke rivalry helped two nonprofit student newspapers collaborate — and make revenue (Better News)