Need to Know: March 3, 2021


You might have heard: The coronavirus has closed more than 60 local newsrooms across America (Poynter) 

But did you know: Two professors have launched an oral history project to document the work of local newsrooms during the pandemic (Poynter)

When the pandemic began, two journalism professors — Teri Finneman at the University of Kansas and William Mari at Louisiana State University — launched a project to document the work of local newsrooms in the middle of the country. They spoke with journalists from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, with the goal of understanding the jobs of essential media workers outside of the over-covered coasts. Working with regional press associations, the two looked for local news outlets of various sizes in many different kinds of communities. The majority of journalism in the U.S. is community journalism, Finneman said, not metro journalism, “but it’s ignored, and so it’s important to us to give a voice, especially to locally owned and family-owned newspapers.” 

+ Noted: Flipboard expands its local coverage to more than 1,000 cities and towns (TechCrunch); Media advocacy group accuses Saudi crown prince and his aides of crimes against humanity in Khashoggi death (The Washington Post) 


Trust Tip: Engagement is key to earning trust (Trusting News)

At its core, engagement is about making sure journalism is focused on the people it aims to serve. To that end, Trusting News is launching a series to help busy journalists incorporate engagement into the work they’re already doing. As a first step, Trusting News Director Joy Mayer says journalists should think about a criticism, misassumption or question they wish they had a better answer to, or perceptions of their news outlet that are most challenging to address. Then they can take a stab at articulating the answer in simple, user-friendly language. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


Nebraska publisher launches liquor store in backroom of newspaper office (Omaha World-Herald) 

Marcia Hora is the owner of the Stapleton Enterprise, a newspaper serving central Nebraska. Last year, she decided to open a liquor store called Herbie’s Speakeasy in the backrooms of the newspaper office — shoppers must walk through the office to get to the shop. Hora said that her goal was to keep residents shopping locally, as there was no place to buy wine or liquor to go in the town of Stapleton. Two backrooms that had previously housed large printing presses were turned over to the store, which has proved popular with local residents. An official from the National Newspaper Association told the Omaha World-Herald that this is likely the first newspaper/liquor store combination. 


How a Ukrainian YouTube channel is using comedy and social media to educate on disinformation (Internews)

Ukrainian news consumers are regularly faced with disinformation produced by foreign propaganda machines, particularly television channels and websites with ties to the Kremlin. So TorontoTV, an online production house, is partnering with Internews, an international nonprofit, to counter the effects of that disinformation with YouTube videos and Instagram posts about various media literacy topics. A survey shows that viewers of the videos were more likely to understand basic journalism concepts, like verifying information with multiple sources. Viewers also became better at identifying hidden advertising. The videos are particularly popular with younger viewers, and they have been used by schools and NGOs to train students. 

+ No one in the Philippines would air a documentary about press freedom. So Frontline is doing it itself. (The Washington Post) 


Most female journalists in history haven’t been ‘notable’ enough for Wikipedia. This project is changing that. (Poynter) 

Women Do News is an all-volunteer project launched by Angilee Shah that works to add more entries on female journalists to Wikipedia. The vast majority of Wikipedia’s editors are men, and only 18% of the site’s English-language biographies are about women. In the past year, the Women Do News network of 300 people has completed 28 new entries and improved 10. The work is slow because the sources needed to support a Wikipedia page, such as profiles or obituaries of the journalists, are much less common for women than men in the field. 

+ Top European media outlet Axel Springer refuses to join Facebook News due to the “inappropriately low remuneration” (CNN) 


Marty Baron’s comment on listening to staff is ‘everything that’s wrong with the current generation of newsroom leaders’ (Press Watchers) 

Marty Baron, who retired as editor of The Washington Post last week, said in an interview with Vanity Fair that it was important for newsroom leaders to listen to staffers who raise concerns about racial equity, but added that “listening doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to end up agreeing.” Dan Froomkin at Press Watchers writes that this response shows that Baron was more interested in “performative listening” and that it “perfectly exemplified the sense of unquestioned white, male superiority.” Froomkin also takes issue with Baron’s framing that listening to the issues raised by staffers could interfere with the standards of the news organization. He argues that Baron reiterates a commitment to objectivity that fails to take into account the varied perspectives of a diverse newsroom. 


Emily Holden hopes to bring hard-hitting climate journalism to the people who need it most (Substack, Heated)

The goal of Emily Holden’s new climate news organization, Floodlight, is to engage more people with the issue of climate change by producing hard-hitting investigative journalism that is aimed at those directly affected by it. For instance, her first piece, done in partnership with The Texas Observer and The San Antonio Report, looks at Texas’s natural gas industry and its resistance to changes in energy policy in the state. In an interview with climate journalist Emily Atkin, Holden says that Floodlight’s stories will focus on the corporate interests that are pushing back against climate action, and that she hopes readers will bring stories of local corporate influence to their attention.