Need to Know: March 31, 2023


On Sunday, the board of the progressive magazine the Texas Observer announced that the publication would close after 68 years of publication and lay off its 17 staffers. Journalists at the publication objected, calling the decision to proceed with layoffs “premature” and creating a GoFundMe page to raise money for the staff. By Wednesday, their efforts had raised more than $300,000 and the board voted to rescind the layoffs and “to move the publication to its next phase.” (The Texas Tribune) 


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

New ChatGPT handbook helps publishers use AI for local news. The book offers specific examples on how to write good prompts and unexpected use cases for newsrooms. (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)  

Why turning newsletters into podcasts and podcasts into newsletters is a great strategy for publishers. Just like entertainment companies turn popular IP into a litany of products, news organizations can drive user habits and find new ways of connecting with audiences. (The Fix)  

Newsrooms struggle over how to cover crime. Because crime coverage is integral to so many newsrooms, organizational habits have to change in order to rethink coverage — but it can really pay off. (Poynter)  


A holistic vision for local news ecosystems with Michael Bolden, CEO of the American Press Institute (Local News Matters Podcast) 

In this conversation with the Local News Matters Podcast, API’s CEO Michael D. Bolden discusses “journalism’s importance for democracy, the need to listen with humility, the need to build healthy and supportive cultures, the role of metrics in news and much more.” 

Trust Tip: Don’t overthink or overcomplicate transparency elements (Trusting News)

At Trusting News we know providing explanations and insight into the reporting process can help people better understand your goals and motivations while also improving perceptions of your news organization. We also know this type of transparency helps prevent people from making negative assumptions about your work, which can lead to distrust. Remember, if we do not tell our audience we thought carefully about how to protect sources or minimize harm, they won’t assume we did.

SPECIAL EDITION: An inclusive guide to online safety

Each Monday, Need to Know shares a special edition series focusing on top issues impacting today’s newsrooms. 

How newsrooms can support women and nonbinary journalists

Newsrooms have a duty of care to support staff from online violence. For too long, journalists have endured constant harassment, resulting in serious implications for press freedom and creating a culture of silence that results in inadequate support for both staff and freelancers. 

+ ‘A Guide to Protecting Newsrooms and Journalists Against Online Violence’ contains a step-by-step process to help newsrooms mitigate risk, raise awareness, develop policies and issue statements of support on behalf of journalists.

+ An anonymous survey can help management to understand the scale of the problem, and checklists can be a useful way to help staff better protect their online data. An assessment document can help mitigate risk, while reporting and escalation policies give clarity to both managers and journalists on what to do and who to speak to should there be a serious incident of online harassment. 

+ Join IWMF’s News Safety Cohort! This is a new opportunity to help international newsrooms create policies for protecting journalists online. Participants will receive customized training in addition to peer networking, access to new resources and opportunities for 1:1 consultations. The deadline for the first cohort is April 17. The program is free for newsrooms, and the application takes about 5 minutes.


+ For 20 years, Marina Ovsyannikova worked for Russian state TV. What compelled her, shortly after Ukraine was invaded, to storm a live broadcast and tell viewers they were being lied to? (The New York Times) 

+ Audie Cornish’s long struggle to remake the news (The New Yorker) 

+ The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers is scared (The New York Times)