Need to Know: May 12, 2023


Last night, CNN hosted a town hall with former President Donald Trump, in which he repeated lies about the 2020 election and said he would pardon the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. CNN CEO Chris Licht defended the choice, arguing that the news media missed Trump’s popularity in 2016 and that he wants to show that Trump “represents the views of a large swath of America.” Many journalists inside CNN were not happy with the decision to air the town hall; one said that “the mood is absolutely the lowest.” The crowd at the event was made up of Republicans and independents, many of whom laughed and clapped when he mocked E. Jean Carroll one day after a jury found that he had sexually assaulted and defamed her. (The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Intelligencer) 


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

The Pulitzer goes to … Black introspection. This indicates these journalists demonstrated “an extraordinary fluency in translating their disparate Black experiences to white America” — often by including personal information and insights. (Poynter)  

Newsletter start-up The Know’s formula for fighting news avoidance. Each email starts with a positive news story, followed by coverage of top stories written in a way that won’t leave readers despondent. (Press Gazette)  

Threats against journalists on the rise. Nearly 50% of journalists worldwide said that either they or their media outlet had experienced some sort of legal threat. (Nieman Reports)  


Clarify your opinion product’s mission to boost audience financial support 

Annafi Wahed, co-founder and CEO of The Flip Side, has a clear mission: to reduce polarization by bridging the gap between liberals and conservatives. “The growth of our start-up newsletter itself showed the mission resonated; over 50,000 of our subscribers came via word of mouth and referral,” she writes. Wahed and her team are clear about where they’re coming from and specific about what they’re building (and what the audience is supporting). Wahed’s essay was published in conjunction with API’s Local News Summit on Opinion, Civic Discourse and Sustainability.

Beyond stress: What journalists should know about burnout 

The latest survey from the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media found 70% of local journalists experienced work-related burnout. Burnout is an “occupational phenomenon,” but most of us don’t have the power to change the organizations we work for. In this self-reflective session — led by Sam Ragland, API’s vice president of journalism programs — journalists will contribute anonymously to a series of prompts to learn actionable insights for reassessing and repairing their relationships with work. The free session will be held on Thursday, May 18 from  1 – 2pm EDT. 

Trust Tip: How to explain what you do (and don’t) cover (Trusting News) 

How does your newsroom decide which stories to cover, and which ones to not cover? Les Zaitz, editor at the Malheur Enterprise, recently explained the newsroom’s coverage approach on Facebook. When they were getting questions about a shooting but didn’t yet have confirmation of the details, they explained on Facebook why they were being cautious and waiting to report. With this one social post, Zaitz was able to communicate some of the core values of the newsroom: That they care about providing their community with fair, ethical and accurate information. 

SPECIAL EDITION: Transitioning to GA4 

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

An introduction to Google’s new analytics tool

Since March, API (with help from consultants Brad Gerick and Claire Tran) has hosted a series of training sessions to help newsrooms navigate the switch to GA4 ahead of the July 1 cutoff date. This is one deadline you don’t want to blow off as you don’t want to risk losing access to any real-time analytics data.

+ Key changes: Active Users is a new, default metric in GA4 that includes the number of users who have an engaged session; a bounce occurs when the user views a single page and is on the site for fewer than 10 seconds; and events in GA4 include five default parameters and up to 25 custom parameters. 

+ Google Tag Manager is our recommended way of setting up for GA4. Go to and use the same account for which you sign into Google Analytics. To simplify the process, you’ll create a container, publish it and put the code on your site. From there, the tags you set up depend on the user behavior you want to track, e.g. newsletter sign-ups, account creations, tracking bylines or sections as parameters in the page_view event.

+ Check out the first portion of API’s GA4 training session — review the slide deck or watch the video


+ Prison journalist shows why we need a free press — even behind bars (Texas Observer) 

+ Why didn’t Politico’s historic Roe v. Wade scoop win a Pulitzer? (Vanity Fair) 

+ How MTV broke news for a generation (The New York Times) 

+ Something Awful is racing to save the best and worst of web history (The Verge)