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Need to Know: May 16, 2018

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


You might have heard: Among the cases against Fox News is a discrimination suit in federal court from a local TV reporter who accuses the company of fostering a “misogynistic culture,” more than a dozen women in New York state court claim that Fox fosters a hostile environment for people of color, and a political pundit says she was raped by a Fox Business host and that the company retaliated against her for complaining by blacklisting her

But did you know: Fox News settles about 20 lawsuits over racial or gender discrimination (Hollywood Reporter)

Fox has now reached a major settlement that could resolve nearly all — if not all — pending lawsuits. Fox’s potential settlement is a bit unusual because the deal was negotiated with Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represents plaintiffs across many different lawsuits. Fox has reached a deal with Wigdor’s firm, which would technically be 19 individual settlements; the deal was signed Tuesday. But the overall financial package, arrived after the parties engaged in extensive mediation, is said to be far less than the $60 million that Wigdor reportedly demanded and Fox rejected. Not all plaintiffs got money. One received nothing while others received little, but others received substantial compensation including contract buyouts. The agreement is approximately 20 cases for close to $10 million.

+ Noted: The new AI-powered Google News app is now available on iOS replacing the Google Play Newsstand app (The Verge); National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal are launching a print magazine for business travelers (Talking Biz News); Bipartisan group of 10 senators debut PRINT act, to try to suspend new tariffs being imposed on imported Canadian newsprint (News Media Alliance); Pittsburgh City Paper editor says he was fired after being told he could no longer write about a GOP state lawmaker, a client of paper’s parent company (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); Facebook said it closed 583 million fake accounts in first three months of 2018 (The Guardian)


Covering rural America: What reporters get wrong and how to get it right (Journalist’s Resource, Shorenstein Center)

Sarah Smarsh mostly reports on issues of socioeconomic class and politics for national and international outlets. “The fact that I work in journalism and … I live in a largely rural state [Kansas] and am from a rural area and background makes me sensitive to the problematic ways that a national, coastal media often talks about parts of the country in an overly pat way that I think is not constructive for political discourse,” Smarsh said. For example, what reporters get wrong: They oversimplify and mischaracterize the political, social, and cultural nature of rural areas. And how to get it right: Editors should try, if possible, to commission stories from local reporters who know their communities.

+ Remembering Tom Wolfe, the master of the long sentence (Poynter)


News stories in Europe are predominantly by and about men. Even photograph sizes are unequal. (Nieman Lab)

Women remain underrepresented both in bylines and in news coverage itself, and, often, underpaid compared to male journalists. And a new study out from the European Journalism Observatory provides a look at just how bad the problem is in Europe. The study of two print and two digital-born news outlets in each of 11 European countries shows that 41% of bylines were by male reporters and 23% from female reporters.

+ Google News bug means BBC News articles are dominating search results for “news” by UK users, to the detriment of other publishers (BuzzFeed); A look at the 10 journalists killed in Afghanistan on April 30, nine of whom died in a suicide bomb blast (Columbia Journalism Review); Seeking a wider readership, News Corp’s The Australian reaches out with its Chinese-language website (The Splice Newsroom)


Why some companies are dropping degree requirements in hiring (Fast Company)

A Bureau of Labor Statistics report released in June 2017 found that occupations that typically require some type of post-secondary education made up nearly 37% of employment in May 2016. The most common requirement was a bachelor’s degree. But some labor experts say it’s time to toss degree requirements. Companies look at a bachelor’s degree as shorthand for a variety of soft skills such as written and verbal communication, problem-solving, and others. However, the increasingly tight labor market, where leaders are scrambling to find talent, may force them to take a more inclusive view, considering people who are trained through community college programs, formal and informal apprenticeships, career program partnerships with community groups, and other job-training programs.


In an era of disinvestment, how should local news push back? (Columbia Journalism Review)

What is the model we should be advocating for? And what are journalists and their audiences supposed to do about it? While answers to those questions aren’t clear, many staffers and audiences are no longer going to silently watch as journalism is “strip-mined.” Those pushing back have a variety of tactics, but they collectively demonstrate that the fate of local news isn’t sealed. We have choices, writes Anna Clark. Some ideas include the following: Report on your own news business, unionize, take your issues to court, accept more modest profit margins, and bolster alternative business models.


In this town, you can flip the channel all you want — the news is often the same (The Washington Post)

The TV news has a familiar feel to it in Johnstown, Pa. Not just the same topics — identical stories, reported by the same reporter or anchor, and repeated, almost verbatim at times, by the other stations. The media overlap in Johnstown — where all three stations are either owned or managed by the Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group — is part of a trend that has spread across the country, as a small number of large holding companies are taking over local TV stations, often more than one in the same market. It has allowed companies to cut costs by consolidating newsrooms that may have once competed against each other — creating a uniformity of news coverage and, critics fear, diminishing the watchdog power of local media.

+ Profile of David Brody, correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, who receives access to Trump while giving a direct line to an evangelical audience (The New York Times)

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