Need to Know: May 15, 2019

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism


You might have heard: Our analysis found that just over half of Americans say it’s easy to distinguish news from opinion in news media

But did you know: U.S. journalism really has become more subjective and personal — at least some of it (Nieman Lab)

A new linguistic analysis of three types of news media shows that newspapers haven’t changed much in terms of word use, tone and sentiment since 2000. There has, however, been a subtle shift toward more narrative storytelling. “Even as many aspects of newspaper coverage remained the same … there does seem to have been a shift from coverage focused on numbers, authority, and imperatives to coverage that uses storytelling and such contextual details as dates to portray an issue,” researchers wrote. TV news, meanwhile, has begun focusing more on emotion, first-person perspective, and immediacy. Cable news has pushed further in this direction, with more argument, personal opinion, and dogmatic positions. Online news has elements of both, favoring subjective views and argument but also “heavily anchored in key policy and social issues” and “report[ing] on these issues through personal frames and experiences.”

+ Noted: South Florida Sun Sentinel wins contempt case over Parkland shooting suspect (South Florida Sun Sentinel); Colleagues of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi say they have been targeted by the Saudi government for continuing his work (CBS News); Quartz, built on free distribution, has put its articles behind a paywall (Nieman Lab)


Apply by May 24 for year-long support to build community listening into your newsroom

This summer API will launch a year-long program to help newsrooms produce more journalism centered around community listening. We’re inviting applications from individuals working with news organizations who want their journalism to be more inspired and informed by audience needs, but who need guidance on how to make that happen. Through a combination of in-person training and regular remote check-ins, we’ll support 10 journalists in a listening-focused project of their design. Interested journalists can apply by May 24. For more information, please check out our webpage, where we’ve also got a recording of a webinar we hosted last Friday that gets into the finer details of the program.


A new effort boosts a diminished Illinois statehouse press (Columbia Journalism Review)

After years of cutbacks, Illinois suffered the biggest decrease of statehouse reporters in the country, with just five full-time capitol reporters in 2014. Capitol News Illinois, an Illinois Press Foundation project, recently stepped in with a collaborative, nonprofit solution to that shortfall. Aside from arming the statehouse press corps with three more reporters and offering its content for free to Illinois Press Association members, the project boasts a few unique collaborative elements. Member papers can edit Capitol News stories as they choose and also make coverage requests specific to their region, increasing discussion at papers across the state.

+ Incognito no more: Publishers close loopholes as paywall blockers emerge (Digiday)


An Iranian disinformation operation impersonated dozens of media outlets to spread fake articles (BuzzFeed News)

Since 2016, a disinformation campaign aligned with Iran published 135 false articles on sites drawn up to look like authentic news organizations, including Bloomberg, Politico and the Atlantic. Complicating matters, after the fake articles began to spread, they were often deleted and set to redirect to the real site, possibly to suggest the authentic site was the source of the story. The campaign, which Citizen Lab researchers called “Endless Mayfly,” later shifted to using fake Twitter accounts to spread misinformation on real sites like Medium and BuzzFeed’s Community section. Ron Deibert, director of Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, told BuzzFeed that “social media is being treated as a disinformation laboratory by a number of state and nonstate actors.”

+ French media is polarizing, but not in the same way as it is here in the United States. Rather than a political divide, France’s split is between the established, elite media and everything else. (Columbia Journalism Review)


Five reasons to ignore resumes (Fast Company)

Resumes may be your first introduction to a job candidate, but David Bernard, an occupational psychologist and CEO of recruiting software firm AssessFirst, recommends throwing out a CV-centric approach when it comes to hiring. Bernard argues that many resumes are built on exaggerations and they don’t convey applicants’ personalities or potential for success. Moreover, getting away from resume-based hiring can usher in greater diversity and may reduce attrition.


How healthcare reporters overlook nurses as potential sources (Poynter)

There are three nurses for every doctor in the U.S., but nurses account for just 2% of sources in health news stories. While this could be chalked up to gender bias (nursing is a female-dominated profession, and journalists have been known to overlook women as sources), healthcare experts say that it has more to do with journalists undervaluing nurses’ skills and qualifications. While people often think of nurses in hospital practice as carrying out the orders of a physician, in reality, about 70% of what those nurses do is entirely independent practice, says Katharyn May, former dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Nursing. People also misunderstand the role of nurses as advanced practice providers, who make up more than a third of medical staff, and in some rural communities, are the only caregivers. “Nurses are highly trained and qualified health care providers who are trained in science- and evidence-based practice,” said Gina Bryan, a clinical professor in the UW-Madison nursing school. “When I get interviewed, it’s often … ‘What did the patient feel like?’ rather than, ‘Tell me about the neurobiology of substance use disorders.”


Partnering on a restorative narrative series from Atlantic City (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)

Stories of Atlantic City is a restorative narrative project formed by several collaborators, including five local media outlets, that brought in non-journalist community members to seek out “untold stories of resiliency” in a city that has historically attracted negative press. The first nine articles of the project, all of which were selected and pitched to the media partners by the community team, were published yesterday. Early this summer, the Center for Cooperative Media and Free Press, both collaborators, will publish a full case study, evaluation and behind-the-scenes video about Stories of Atlantic City, designed to inspire similar collaboratives in other cities across the United States.

+ How NewsMatch is creating on-ramps for local and national foundations around the country to easily support nonprofit journalism (Medium, Josh Stearns)