Need to Know: May 19, 2021


You might have heard: Pew research finds that broadcast is the favorite source for local news (Poynter) 

But did you know: How Scripps worked to build trust with younger viewers through deeper community connection (The Atlantic) 

Several years ago, E.W. Scripps, the broadcasting company that owns 60 TV stations in 42 markets, set out on a “listening tour” to discover what would appeal to younger viewers, who were turning away from TV news. They found that younger audiences wanted less sensationalistic content — crime, house fires — and “fluff,” and more in-depth coverage of their community. At a test station in Florida, the network found that audiences wanted longer stories, up to seven or eight minutes per segment. As a result, the network instructed all its stations to move away from gratuitous crime stories and to pick one signature issue on which to focus. Younger viewers responded better than older viewers, some of whom felt that “less of the news” was being covered. 

+ Earlier: How UNC-TV is reaching younger audiences with new digital content while staying committed to its traditional broadcast audience (Better News)

+ Noted: Forbes staffers announce intention to unionize (CNN); The NewsGuild of New York, overextended from a spate of organizing, is running into opposition from members over footing the bill (Vanity Fair) 


Trust Tip: Leave unnecessary politics out of stories (Trusting News) 

In a time when everything feels like politics, it’s important for news organizations to think carefully about how they can avoid heightening political polarization. This might mean leaving out details of a story that, while true, may play a role in dividing the community or stoke accusations of bias. At the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the outlet has decided twice to omit controversial elements from stories about politicians when they are not germane to the topic at hand. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


How two newsletter publishers teamed up for joint launch, fundraising drive (Twitter, @SamHoisington) 

Madison Minutes is a new newsletter about current events in Madison, Wisconsin. Tone Madison is an existing newsletter about music, culture and “strong points of view” in Madison. To celebrate the launch of Madison Minutes, the newsletter teamed up with Tone Madison for a unique fundraising drive. For the first 250 people who sign up for Madison Minutes through Tone Madison’s link, Minutes will donate $2 to Tone’s spring fundraising drive. Madison Minutes’ co-founder Sam Hoisington called the arrangement “a new era in Madison journalism — one where we collaborate instead of ‘compete’.” 

+ Related: There is still time to sign up for the 2021 Collaborative Journalism Summit, which starts today at noon ET (Montclair State University)

+ The Wall Street Journal is having an “open house” on Thursday, where everything on the site will be available for free (Twitter, @CPrattMedia) 


Australian court hears arguments on media companies’ responsibility for comments (The Guardian) 

Australia’s highest court is set to rule on whether media companies are responsible for defamatory comments on their social media posts. Previously, a court in New South Wales had found news organizations Fairfax Media and News Corp liable for defamatory comments on Facebook posts. The court ruled that the news outlets were “primary publishers of third-party comments” on their social media pages, and therefore not covered by an “innocent dissemination” rule that protects publishers and internet service providers. The news organizations’ lawyers argue that they could not be liable since, at the time, they were unable to disable Facebook comments on a specific post. 


Israeli-Palestinian fight spills over into social media (Axios) 

The recent conflict in Gaza has surfaced more problems for social media companies as misinformation spreads and activism rises. This is the first major combat in the region since 2014, and social media has become a bigger part of everyday life in the intervening years. Images and videos of the conflict are spreading, as is false information like a video that incorrectly claimed to show Palestinians launching rockets in a civilian area. Israeli officials have argued that Palestinian extremists are spreading disinformation, while pro-Palestinian activists say their posts are being taken down, possibly in relation to a Facebook ban on posts from Hamas, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist group. 

+ Spotify will auto-transcribe podcasts over the coming weeks (The Verge) 


Darnella Frazier, who filmed George Floyd’s murder by police, should win a Pulitzer Prize (Nieman Lab) 

This year’s Pulitzers will be announced in June, and Roy Peter Clark argues that one prize should be awarded to Darnella Frazier. Frazier, then 17, recorded Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd on her cellphone, setting off global protests. It would be an unusual award — Frazier would be the youngest-ever recipient; it would be the first photojournalism award given to a videographer; and Frazier was acting as a citizen instead of a journalist. But Clark argues that Frazier’s video follows in the tradition of great civil rights journalism, which had a social and ethical purpose — “to give voice to the voiceless, to speak truth to power, to reveal secrets that the corrupt seek to hide, to stand strong in a moment of personal peril, and to document a fleeting reality that is fraught with meaning.” 


What’s the healthiest news diet? Probably traditional media, but don’t gorge yourself: Too much can leave you less informed (Nieman Lab) 

A study in The International Journal of Press/Politics examining news consumption in 17 European countries has found that consuming traditional media — particularly public media — is the best strategy for being the most politically well-informed. Those who sought out news online also had more political knowledge than other groups, but those considered “hyper consumers” of news were more likely to have less knowledge than regular online readers, likely due to “information overload.” The study also found that people who rely on social media for news — and say that they expect the news to find them — are less knowledgeable than online news readers. 

+ Earlier: How journalists can help readers navigate the news and take healthy breaks from it (Trusting News)