Need to Know: May 17, 2021

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


You might have heard: Out of 240 news outlets across the world, only 22% have top editors who are women (Reuters Institute)

But did you know: Why did The Washington Post look outside its own ranks for a woman to lead the newsroom? (Politico)

Last week, The Washington Post announced that Sally Buzbee of The Associated Press would become the first woman to lead the paper as executive editor. Paul Volpe writes that no women at the storied newspaper were seriously considered for the role, in part because the Post’s leadership pipeline is heavily dominated by men. Three of the Post’s four managing editors are women, and executive editors are typically recruited from coverage desks, which are almost all led by men at the paper. Women haven’t led the paper’s foreign desk or editorial department for 20 years, and business, politics and local coverage have been led by men for more than 10 years.

+ Noted: MinnPost staff have unionized (Twitter, @MinnPostUnion); The Data Institute, a collaboration of The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, ProPublica and OpenNews, is accepting applications for its intensive workshop (ProPublica)


How listening informed La Estrella de Tucsón’s reporting during COVID-19 

Liliana López Ruelas, Hispanic community engagement editor of La Estrella de Tucsón and one of API’s community listening fellows, explains how she established communication with readers via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and how that helped shape La Estrella’s original reporting in the early days of the pandemic. She also offers helpful advice for translating content into Spanish and centering it from a Hispanic community’s perspective.


How to win advocates and implement a technical change (NYT Open)

When The New York Times’ Android teams were considering switching to a new coding technology, they started by figuring out what steps would be involved and how much effort it would take to accomplish them. Next they identified other teams that could share feedback or contribute to the project, and they sought input from stakeholders to address concerns about the transition. Performance data and support from advocates led to the project being approved, and the team is advising the Cooking app team members on a similar project.

+ Earlier: How to get engagement buy-in from your newsroom (Medium, Hearken)


How China used the media to spread its COVID-19 narrative (Nieman Lab)

According to a recent report from the International Federation of Journalists, China’s global image has improved as a result of the pandemic. In a survey of 50 countries late last year, more than half said that their national news coverage of China had become more positive since the pandemic. Less than a quarter of those surveyed said the opposite, with China’s image in North America falling to 3.5 out of a 10-point scale. China aims to control its image by sharing state-sponsored news with media outlets, pushing disinformation and restricting foreign journalists from reporting in the country.

+ In Gaza, Israeli airstrikes destroyed buildings housing The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other news outlets (The Associated Press)


Black-owned media outlets see chance to capture ad dollars long denied (Variety)

During the last few weeks, General Motors and other companies have announced plans to invest advertising dollars in Black-owned media outlets. Ad-buying agency Mediabrands plans to host meetings with advertisers and media outlets, and the company has pledged to devote at least 5% of ad spending to Black-owned media by 2023. With Weather Channel owner Byron Allen at the helm, leaders in Black media have been pushing for these investments by lobbying corporations and even taking out newspaper ads urging General Motors to advertise with Black-owned media companies.


Why texting and email aren’t substitutes for actually talking to people (The Latinx Project)

Tanzina Vega, who hosts WNYC and Public Radio International’s “The Takeaway,” recommends journalists go out into their communities and talk to people rather than only texting or emailing sources. She says that some people may prefer to say certain things over the phone, on Zoom or in person, rather than in writing. Vega also suggests journalists should question where ideas come from, who benefits and loses from them and who is advocating for them. “It doesn’t mean you have to end up disagreeing with it, but it just means you have to really look at it and say, okay, what is this?” she said.


How morning shows are coping with viewer erosion (Associated Press) 

“Today,” “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning” have lost viewership as weather and traffic updates have become less relevant for Americans working from home during the pandemic. The programs’ viewership in the 25 to 54-year-old range, a demographic that is used to set advertising rates, fell the most. The networks are developing morning show content that isn’t tied to a morning block of programming, including podcasts, newsletters and YouTube shows.