Need to Know: May 12, 2022


You might have heard: Journalists clash with newsroom chiefs over protest coverage (NPR)

But did you know: Newsroom managers urge journalists to keep abortion views under wraps (Vanity Fair)   

With the Supreme Court likely to soon overturn Roe v. Wade, several media outlets have issued policies that fall back on “well-established” ground rules that prohibit reporters from taking sides in the abortion debate, writes Charlotte Klein. At Axios, which supported staffers who participated in protests after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, journalists are being urged to stay out of the abortion fight because it concerns “very specific policies.” Other news organizations are similarly invoking traditional ethical guidelines in prohibiting such activity. An exception is Rolling Stone, whose editor told staffers, “you don’t have to stifle your beliefs around here.”

+ Related: Wordle answer changed to avoid fraught word, NY Times says (The Associated Press)

+ Noted: The Washington Post is establishing a new bureau in Kyiv (The Washington Post); The Nieman Foundation names 24 fellows (Nieman Foundation); Slate taps Hillary Frey as new editor-in-chief (Axios)


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How to be accessible as a manager without exhausting yourself (National Press Club Journalism Institute) 

Leaders must be accessible and convey a sense that they are approachable and connected, writes Jill Geisler, an authority on newsroom management. But when managers are swamped with meetings or paperwork, they can easily send off what Geisler calls a “do not disturb” vibe. “Do that with some regularity and people will hesitate to approach you,” she writes. As an example, Geisler recommends that managers have a ready answer to the question “Got a minute?” If you can’t talk then, give the person a specific time to meet, she writes. That “proves you aren’t just blowing them off.”


Al Jazeera accuses Israeli forces of killing journalist in West Bank (The Guardian)

Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during a military raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin. Abu Akleh, 51, a Palestinian American who was one of the Arab world’s most prominent journalists, had covered the conflict for decades. The White House strongly condemned the killing, and Tom Nides, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, called for a thorough investigation. Bethan McKernan writes that on Wednesday, the Israeli military chief, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, “appeared to back away” from earlier assertions that Palestinians were to blame, saying, “At this stage we cannot determine by whose fire she was harmed and we regret her death.”

+ Related: The world reacts to the killing of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh (Al Jazeera) 


The magazine business, from the coolest place to the coldest one (The New York Times)

In a reflection on disappearing magazines, New York Times book critic Alexandra Jacobs writes that an industry one author described as “the coolest place to be” became, “suddenly, the coldest.” It was hit by the “iceberg” that was the internet, she writes, which left in its wake a situation in which “the clicks are trampling the slicks.” Two recent books about the magazine industry, Jacobs says, are “graveyards of dead or zombie titles that were once glowing hives of human whim.” But, she says, there has not yet been a hit book or television show that conveys the past excitement of the industry.


Jen Psaki’s puny conflict of interest (The Washington Post)

Jen Psaki is a “phenomenal talent,” writes Erik Wemple, but the departing White House press secretary has an “unmistakable conflict of interest” in that Psaki’s job required her to ensure fair treatment of media outlets even after one of them became a potential employer. Axios has reported that Psaki is going to MSNBC, though Psaki has not confirmed that. Doing so, Wemple writes, would have “been to concede an ethical lapse.” Psaki and other officials say she has met stringent ethical requirements, and Wemple calls her conflict “puny” when compared with the lapses of the previous administration. Still, he asks, “Would it have killed Psaki to hold off on job discussions until she had vacated the White House?”


‘We need to be interesting’: Editors of metro dailies talk about their biggest opportunities and challenges now (Nieman Lab)

Laura Hazard Owen collects some key insights from major metropolitan newspaper editors who gathered this week for a Shorenstein Center event to discuss the digital transformation of local papers. “We can no longer afford to be the paper of record. We need to be the paper of interest,” said Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory. Michele Matassa Flores from the Seattle Times called newsletters “a really important way to get our journalism out to all types of communities, including those that can’t afford subscriptions.” And Philadelphia Inquirer Editor Gabriel Escobar said the paper was about to launch a free version at all of the city’s public libraries. The whole event can be viewed here.