Need to Know: May 13, 2020


You might have heard: Cleveland’s daily newspaper reduced its staff of 14 to 4 union journalists in April (Associated Press) 

But did you know: Cleveland Plain Dealer to lay off last four union journalists and offer them non-union jobs as guild dissolves (News 5 Cleveland)

The last four of the Plain Dealer’s union journalists will lose their jobs on Friday and will be offered employment at non-union According to the Plain Dealer News Guild, the guild itself will be dissolved on Sunday. In a statement, the union said that it had been “systematically squeeze[d]” out of existence. The Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild will continue to represent other local papers, but has agreed to not participate in organizing efforts to organize for one year. The Plain Dealer’s editor, Tim Warsinskey, will move to Advance Media.

+ Noted:  Pop-Up Magazine Productions is forming a union (Pop-Up Guild); Twitter will allow employees to work at home forever (Buzzfeed News)


How to cover elections during a pandemic: Nine lessons from Wisconsin (Trusted Elections Network)

Wisconsin’s election on April 7 was a test of both democracy and journalism. Journalists in Wisconsin had to report on plans that were changing by the hour, then consider how much risk they were willing to take to their own health and safety to cover the voting. API’s Trusted Elections Network, a collaboration of journalists and election experts, recently held a conversation to discuss what happened in Wisconsin. The lessons we drew range from partisan gridlock to the mechanics of the post office to the benefits of remote working.

+ Trust Tip: Show you’re part of your community during COVID-19 (Trusting News)


Documented uses illustrations in English and Spanish to answer common coronavirus questions (Twitter, @Documentedny)

The New York-based news site Documented answered questions from readers about renting during the coronavirus pandemic, then turned those answers into meme-able posts in both English and Spanish. The information in the illustrations deals with basic tenant rights and current status of rent and evictions in New York. The news site partnered with Housing Justice For All to gather information.

+ Poynter reveals the five most popular coronavirus misinformation claims in its fact-checking database (Poynter)


How Turkey’s fact-checking platform is fighting COVID-19 misinformation on the small screen (European Journalism Centre)

Teyit is an independent fact-checking organisation in Turkey, a country where almost all of the media is controlled by pro-government owners. Beginning in April, the site began producing one-minute video explainers for a TV news channel, which debunked widespread myths about the coronavirus and promoted fact-checking tips. They produce seven videos per week, and each one runs several times per day. Teyit has also turned to newsletters, webinars and WhatApp to distribute its fact checks, and in June, it will launch a new community platform and membership program.

+ How an Indian magazine achieved 30% growth in circulation during lockdown, with free vegetable seeds (What’s New In Publishing)


Like all current gatherings, this year’s upfronts are just live streams (The New York Times)

Typically, in mid-May, the television networks gather their biggest stars in New York City theaters and pitch their fall television lineups to prospective advertisers. But on Monday, NBC presented a livestream version of upfronts for advertisers “to remind advertisers that they still exist,” as John Koblin and Tiffany Hsu at the Times put it. With uncertainty about whether television productions will go forward and if live sports will be back, there wasn’t much for the network to present, though executives assured advertisers that they weren’t expecting them to lock in the types of large ad-buys that are common after upfronts.

+ Related: Big advertisers are set to cancel commitments to TV networks (Wall Street Journal)


Ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests during the crisis damages democracy (The New York Times)

The New York Times’ editorial board took a hard stance on local and state governments, as well as federal agencies, that are using the coronavirus pandemic as justification for failing to respond quickly — or at all — to Freedom of Information Act requests from journalists and citizens. In avoiding compliance with FOIA requests, the board argues that governments are avoiding scrutiny and denying transparency to constituents at a time when government decisions have an even bigger impact on citizens’ lives than normal.

+ Earlier: FOIA is “weaker than it’s ever been,” and few news outlets have the resources to file FOIA lawsuits anymore (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ Should journalists let sources look over stories before publication? (Poynter)


Americans are struggling to navigate the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ (Gallup)

More than one-third of Americans (36%) say they feel overwhelmed keeping up with coronavirus news. The World Health Organization has declared an “infodemic,” or an overabundance of information about COVID-19, much of which is false. More than two-thirds (68%) of people say that social media is a major source of disinformation, while 54% point to the Trump administration. And 58% of Americans say that they’re well-informed about the virus.