Need to Know: May 14, 2021


You might have heard: Ad initiative aims to save community media outlets that save lives (Center for Community Media) 

But did you know: Publishers call on President Biden to use local newspaper advertising to help reach their goal of 70% vaccinated by July 4 (News Media Alliance)

In a joint letter, the News Media Alliance and the National Newspaper Association have asked President Biden to purchase advertising in local newspapers to build trust and acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines. The groups, who combined represent more than 3,700 newspapers across the country, argued that local papers with deep roots in their communities are the best medium for countering misinformation about vaccines. Earlier this month, Biden announced hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for improving vaccine information, as well as helping states with outreach efforts. 

+ Noted: Congressional Democrats reintroduced the Future of Local News Act, legislation aimed at rescuing the struggling local news industry (Senator Brian Schatz); NBC spotlights MediaWise’s efforts to arm the public against misinformation (Poynter) 


How to build a metrics-savvy newsroom

Our strategy study looks at how newsrooms can break down audience metrics into meaningful insights, and how journalists can apply those insights to their daily work. 


‘I Know What Pandemic Means’: How Documented put together its first film (Documented) 

At the beginning of the pandemic, Documented began receiving messages from immigrant New Yorkers urgently in need of help. The news site has turned these messages into a film and interactive website, “I Know What Pandemic Means.” When readers requested help securing financial aid or legal help, Documented began asking about challenges they were facing in the pandemic, and the people in their lives who were making things better. The fifteen-minute long film features these stories, showcasing individual reader experiences as a way of showing the larger narrative of pandemic life in New York City. 

+ NPR launches diverse sources database to showcase experts from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the media (NPR Training) 


One journalist is raising the bar for investigative reporting in Nigeria (International Journalists’ Network) 

In 2020, Fisayo Soyombo, a freelance journalist in Nigeria, launched the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, a newsroom focused on social justice, human right abuses, and corruption in the country. Currently, Soyombo mostly funds the newsroom himself, with some development support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. He runs a “lean team” but pays better than many other media outlets in Nigeria, saying he prefers to work with fewer people and pay them better. He hopes that the salaries he pays will become a reference point for other media outlets. And his goal is to train a new generation of investigative journalists in the country, and he views the organization’s work as part of a larger commitment to social justice. 

+ Media Defence has launched its 2020 annual report, marking the end of a pivotal year for freedom of expression (Media Defence) 


TikTok launches #FactCheckYourFeed to support media literacy (TikTok) 

Social media platform TikTok has launched a campaign, #FactCheckYourFeed, to build media literacy as part of its #LearnOnTikTok program. In a press release, TikTok says the goal is to help users “critically engage with content, navigate our platform safely and guard themselves against potential harms.” In partnership with digital media literacy charity The Student View, the platform is debuting a series of videos from creators focused on critical thinking and news literacy. Topics include why it’s important to think critically about headlines, how journalism’s “5 Ws” can help gather information, and the importance of a balanced media diet. 


Sally Buzbee can do what her male predecessors never figured out (Politico) 

This week, Sally Buzbee was named the first woman to lead The Washington Post, following the retirement of Marty Baron. In a column of “unsolicited advice,” Jack Shafer writes that Buzbee has “inherited a franchise spinning with so much positive momentum and cred” that short-term success is all but guaranteed. Long term, he says that The Post will need to expand its newsroom to compete on more equal footing with The New York Times, and suggests enticing big-name defections from the Times, like crossword editor Will Shortz. He also suggests removing the “Democracy Dies in Darkness” motto, defining a coherent social media policy, and establishing itself as a “plague on all ideologies.”


USC’s Student Journalism Wellness Project offers a new resource for emerging reporters (Poynter) 

The Student Journalism Wellness Project at the University of Southern California offers a place for student journalists to discuss their experiences working in student media, read advice from professionals and mental health experts, and access resources for issues like burnout. The project was launched by USC student Natalie Bettendorf, who began compiling this online toolkit in the winter, looking to address “mental and emotional” burnout, difficult and toxic newsrooms, and the challenges of balancing academic life with journalistic work that offered little to no pay. 


+ “You may never see those numbers again”: Can cable news pass the post-Trump test? (Vanity Fair) 

+ The Chinese government has been using its money and power to create an alternative to the global news media (The New York Times) 

 + “Now there is enough noise”: An hour with “The Takeaway” host Tanzina Vega (The Latinx Project) 

+ Tech vs. journalism: Inside the nasty battle between Silicon Valley and the reporters who write about it (New York Magazine)