Need to Know: May 18, 2022


You might have heard: A racist theory may have driven the Buffalo tragedy. The Murdochs thrive on it. (The Washington Post) 

But did you know: Schumer calls on Murdoch and Fox News executives to stop amplifying replacement theory (The New York Times) 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on Fox News executives to “cease the reckless amplification of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory” on its network. Language about replacement theory, which alleges that the U.S. population is at risk of being “replaced” by non-white immigrants, was cited by the gunman in the Buffalo massacre, and has been pushed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. It’s unclear whether the gunman heard these ideas on Fox News, but in a letter to the network’s executives, Schumer wrote that “this pernicious theory, which has no basis in fact, has been injected into the mainstream thanks in large part to a dangerous level of amplification by your network and its anchors.” 

+ Related: Tucker Carlson tries, and fails, to distance himself from Buffalo shooter’s manifesto (Rolling Stone)

+ Noted: Elon Musk may be sabotaging his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter (The Washington Post) 


Trust Tip: Tell your audience what your focus on solutions stories means (Trusting News) 

Should news outlets “signpost” their solutions journalism stories? Lynn Walsh writes that highlighting solutions stories increases engagement, and she advises news organizations to mention the solutions frame on social media and in newsletters, point out the solutions focus on the story page and have a landing page for solutions work. “As we have said so many times, a user is unlikely to give you credit for something unless you tell them what you are trying to accomplish,” writes Walsh. “It’s important to be clear about your goals and mission. This is especially true if you want credit for finding solutions and not just focusing on problems.” 


Good things happened when Honolulu Civil Beat dropped its paywall and went to donations instead (Poynter) 

When Honolulu Civil Beat launched in 2010, it had a paywall, a $19.95-a-month subscription and the goal of self-sustainability. Even after loosening the paywall and dropping subscriptions to $4.99 per month, the outlet still had only about 1,000 paying subscribers in 2016. So, with guidance from the News Revenue Hub, the Civil Beat dropped its subscription and paywall and decided to ask for donations instead. Most of its subscribers converted to donors and, on average, they doubled what they were paying; the outlet will have between 7,200 and 7,400 donors in 2022. As Mary Walter-Brown, CEO of the News Revenue Hub, put it, “Sometimes you can get more just by asking.”


BBC News creates the world’s biggest news Instagram account (INMA) 

The BBC News’ Instagram account now has more than 20 million followers, writes the organization’s Instagram lead, Kady Wardell. The account focuses on “in-depth explainers in an accessible format” that is aimed at people who rely on social media for their news content. Since launching its News Daily Instagram Stories over a year ago, BBC News has seen referrals back to its website increase by fivefold; the account now posts 20 Insta Stories a day. “Our style aims to be friendly and personable, while not undermining the trust and impartiality audiences expect from the BBC,” writes Wardell. 


What’s working for local TV stations on Facebook? Posting early, killing hashtags, skipping sports (Nieman Lab) 

A new study of the Facebook pages of local television channels finds that early morning posting is the most successful time period. Content posted between 6 and 9 a.m. received the most engagement, writes Joshua Benton. The survey also found that posts with hashtags were unpopular, while posts with videos and links outperformed posts without them. Benton also breaks down the type of engagement, noting that politics and consumer issues drive comments, while community stories encourage reactions and emergency stories are most likely to be shared. 

+ Facebook quietly bankrolled small, grassroots groups to fight its battles in Washington (The Washington Post); An unholy coalition torpedoes social media reform legislation in Brazil (Poynter) 


Michigan governor signs bills requiring newspapers post public notices online, free to readers (Detroit Free Press) 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a law requiring that newspapers post public notices online and make them free for all readers, writes Dave Boucher. Local governments in the state are still required to purchase print space to run these notices. Newspapers are required to post the notices online within 72 hours of receiving them, include links to the notices from their homepages and make them accessible to anyone without a subscription or paywall. Advocates say the bill is a crucial step for government accountability and transparency. 


How Factchequeado combats misinformation in Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S. (Nieman Lab) 

Fact-checkers Laura Zommer of Chequeado in Argentina and Clara Jiménez Cruz of in Spain both noticed that Spanish-language misinformation was spreading out of the U.S. and into their countries. They launched Factchequeado to help combat this bad information and raise awareness of non-English language misinformation on social media. The group will assess a piece of misinformation’s virality to decide whether to debunk it, so that they don’t risk accidentally amplifying the lie. They also focus on the “level of danger” of the misinformation, with a particular focus on content that “surfaces in times of crisis, social movements, and elections.”