Need to Know: May 12, 2021


You might have heard: How to build trust with sources through clear expectations (Trusting News)

But did you know: Journalists who put out ‘casting calls’ for sources can exploit the most vulnerable (Columbia Journalism Review)

Many journalists don’t have the sources to cover a story like evictions or immigration policy, so they turn to nonprofits and advocacy groups in those spaces to help connect them to people affected by the issue. But in doing so, they often resort to “casting calls” for the perfect story subject, requesting hyper-specific narratives such as ”a Black single mom on food stamps who’s experiencing eviction.” In interviews with media relations officers at various nonprofits, Ko Bragg writes about the difficult balance for them between wanting media attention for an issue — which can raise awareness and funds — while also not wanting to exploit vulnerable people in their community. Bragg writes that journalists must build relationships with these advocacy groups and have patience, rather than parachuting in and out for a story.

+ Noted: Sally Buzbee of the Associated Press is named executive editor of The Washington Post, the first woman to lead the newsroom (The Washington Post); CrowdTangle launches $40,000 grant to support news coverage about the pandemic and its aftermath (Twitter, @crowdtangle); Hearst sells Marie Claire to a British publisher (The New York Times); The Appeal says it will recognize union, pause layoffs (Twitter, @theappealunion)


Trust Tip: Here’s how WITF is inserting accountability reminders into daily stories (Trusting News)

After the attacks on the U.S. Capitol in January, public media newsroom WITF in Pennsylvania committed to always connecting local lawmakers to the election-fraud claims they made. The newsroom announced its intention to readers; explaining the reasoning, making it clear it was not a partisan decision, outlining the criteria for which lawmakers to include, giving examples of the language they would use and inviting feedback. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


Madeleine Bair on why showing the impact of El Tímpano was so important (Twitter, @madbair)

Last month, Oakland-based news outlet El Tímpano released its first impact report. On Twitter, founder Madeleine Bair said that the report was especially important for El Tímpano because news outlets serving immigrant or other underserved communities must go out of their way to prove their impact for funders and partners. Most money in journalism philanthropy goes to outlets run by college-educated, affluent, white people, because funders (many belonging to that same demographic) can easily see the impact of those outlets’ reporting. For an organization like El Tímpano, which does not have an online presence because much of its base does not have internet access, it can be hard for outsiders to see how the outlet is benefiting the community.

+ Earlier: How the Detroit Free Press uses an annual impact report to show how its journalism drives change (Better News)

+ Tips for using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine in your next investigation (GIJN)


How science journalism accelerated Süddeutsche Zeitung’s digital subscriptions (WAN-IFRA)

During the pandemic, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung stepped up to provide high-quality science journalism — and it paid off. Between April 2020 and April 2021, the paper’s digital subscriptions grew by 60%, and science articles behind the paywall generated subscriptions at a particularly high rate. The paper had always had strong science journalism, dedicating one page every day to science news, and having science reporters contribute to other sections regularly. The 12-person science team was able to dedicate five people exclusively to COVID-19 coverage, and the paper began incorporating data reporters into the pandemic coverage as well. Marlene Weiß, head of Süddeutsche Zeitung’s science department, said that despite the positive reaction to their COVID-19 stories, the team was careful to not let metrics drive what is considered newsworthy in the section.


How to talk to insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists (CNN)

In the wake of the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, intelligence agencies have warned that there could be more unrest and violence. Nafees Hamid, a cognitive scientist who studies the causes of political violence, has found that the key to stopping people from becoming radicalized is for them to feel part of a community. In his study of jihadists, he found that when a supporter of jihadism felt that his peer group or community did not support violence, he was more likely to tone down his violent intentions. On the other hand, when jihadists felt excluded from their community, they were more likely to feel committed to the use of violence. Hamid writes that, to curb extremism in America, people must both condemn conspiracies and violence while also being empathetic — in person and online — with those who may disagree.


Why Black women are often missing from national media coverage about police violence (Five Thirty Eight)

Media coverage of police violence against Black women is disproportionately small, compared to coverage of police violence against Black men. 20% of women killed by police are Black, despite Black women being only 13% of women in the U.S. The prominent names that do come to mind — like Breonna Taylor and Ma’Khia Bryant — often enter the public consciousness when other stories of police brutality are already in the news. Advocates say that the mainstream media’s limited understanding of police violence means that stories of Black women being killed are overlooked or undercovered.


How to use Feedly with Twitter to replace Nuzzel (TechRepublic)

Last week’s announcement that Twitter was purchasing the web service Scroll brought with it the news that Scroll’s popular Twitter reader Nuzzel was being shut down. But, Andy Wolber writes, those looking to surface the most popular links from a particular feed can use RSS feeds like Feedly in a similar way as Nuzzel. By subscribing to the Feedly Pro+, for instance, users can input Twitter feeds, lists, accounts or searches, filter by articles with links, and then sort by most popular tweets.