Need to Know: May 19, 2022


You might have heard: Collaboration is the future of journalism (Nieman Reports)

But did you know: Why newsrooms are collaborating to take on ambitious reporting projects (Nieman Reports)

News collaborations have been around for more than 175 years, but the industry is now seeing a growing number of them, writes Stefanie Murray, director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Many factors, including resource challenges, are driving the collaborations. By teaming up, she says, newsrooms with specific skills can complement and leverage one another’s strengths — a good investigative group can collaborate with a leader in podcasts to do an investigation told via audio, for example. Murray also says newsrooms have been inspired by successful collaborations, such as the 2016 team led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that published the Panama Papers, which won a Pulitzer Prize and “opened many eyes to the power of a cross-border, multi-language collaboration.”

+ Noted: The Hill’s newsroom petitions to unionize (Washingtonian); How the Biden administration let right-wing attacks derail its disinformation efforts (The Washington Post)


How The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reaching Black audiences through its Unapologetically ATL newsletter (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution created its Unapologetically ATL newsletter to better reach the city’s Black community, which had been underrepresented among the paper’s readers. The free weekly newsletter, which highlights Black culture, events, news and trends in metro Atlanta, was launched in September 2021. Its interactive content, combined with a simple sign-up and robust social media promotion, generated 1,000 subscribers by the end of launch week, and the newsletter now has about 5,000 subscribers. It has also sparked “healthy conversations about race, culture and identity.” This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.

+ Congratulations: Amy Kovac-Ashley is joining the Lenfest Institute after six great years with API. We’ll miss her wisdom, her deep knowledge of the industry and her dedication to the mission of local news. We wish her all the best in her new role as Lenfest’s Head of National Programs. Her last day at API is June 1.


How a bigshot writing coach beats writer’s block (Poynter)

Longtime Poynter writing coach Roy Peter Clark has some tricks for dealing with writer’s block — six, in fact — that he says have helped him in the 20 books he’s worked on as an author or editor. Some of them are avoidance behaviors, but one is called a “zero draft” — the technique of writing quickly and uncritically “what you think you already know” even if you’re not done reporting and researching. “It’s not even a first draft. It’s a zero draft,” he writes. “It will teach you what you still need to learn, saving you time and focusing your reporting.”


Some Ukrainian journalists are leaving the media for the military in the name of patriotism (Committee to Protect Journalists)

The Committee to Protect Journalists has counted the deaths of at least 13 journalists in Russia’s war on Ukraine — seven killed in crossfire and six more whose deaths the group is investigating. But at least 10 other journalists are not on the list, writes Ann Cooper, because they had left the profession to join the war effort. There’s no official estimate of how many journalists have volunteered to fight, but several said they see it as necessary for the survival of their country. “It’s simple: the scale of the [Russian] invasion was such that the existence of Kyiv and the country as a whole was in doubt,” former Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Stanyslav Aseyev told CPJ. “Had Ukraine disappeared, journalism would have been meaningless.”


Agency dealmaking for journalists goes into overdrive (The Hollywood Reporter)

“Star journalists” are in high demand, boosted by social media and other platforms like podcasts, writes Alex Weprin. One agent said names like Don Lemon, David Muir and Anderson Cooper are “walk-down-the-street stars” who can command big salaries as well as opportunities for other kinds of deals. Being a journalist now, another agent says, “means you can be doing streaming news, you can be doing podcasting. Maybe you are a correspondent at a broadcast network, maybe you’re at cable, maybe you are making things for Netflix.”

+ Related: Chris Wallace to anchor new show on CNN (Axios)


When the media muzzles its reporters (Dame Magazine)

Leaders of news outlets who prohibit their journalists from publicly voicing concerns about the Supreme Court’s impending decision on Roe v. Wade expose “a great disconnect between covering the news and living the news,” writes Marisa Kabas, citing recent newsroom memos cautioning journalists not to take sides in the fight over abortion. She says the memos also revive the age-old debate about journalists’ objectivity. “Abortion is an all-encompassing, deeply personal and emotional human rights issue, and to expect members of the media to sublimate their feelings about it is unrealistic at best, and cruel at worst,” Kabas writes.


Tracking state legislative efforts to support local news (UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media)

Kayleigh Carpenter at UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media has compiled a database of state bills designed to support local news. While some members of Congress are pushing legislation to help local news, there is room for such efforts on the state level as well, the Center writes. “State legislatures are able to tailor support for their local news media environment which can differ across states: the environment in Colorado will look different from the one in New York,” it says. The Center also invites people to alert it about any legislation it might have missed.