Need to Know: May 21, 2019

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


You might have heard: Newsroom employees are less diverse than U.S. workers overall (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Men outnumber women in U.S. newsrooms. It’s no different among fact-checkers. (Poynter)

Men run about 71 percent of fact-checking sites, and 59 percent of fact-checkers around the world are men. That’s according to a Poynter analysis drawn from staff pages of 36 news organizations that have signed the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles. While acknowledging that their data is limited, representing just one-fifth of fact-checking outlets around the world, Poynter draws comparisons to the American Society of News Editors’ annual diversity survey, which found last year that about 42 percent of newsroom staff members were women. In Brazil, women head three fact-checking organizations. “Women had to innovate and do something like launching a fact-checking initiative because they didn’t have the space in the regular, traditional industry,” said Tai Nalon, director of Aos Fatos.

+ Noted: ‘Beyond nine lives’: Salon’s new owners look to trim costs as they seek easy profit (Digiday); Facing scrutiny, Mayor Breed says she’s ‘not okay’ with police raids on journalists (San Francisco Examiner); In this popular mobile game, you kill a journalist (Washington Post); Al-Jazeera suspends two journalists over Holocaust report (The Guardian); The Boston Globe now has more online subscribers than print ones, likely the only traditional, regional daily in the U.S. reach this milestone (Boston Business Journal)


Applications due this Friday for API’s community listening program

API is accepting applications until 12 p.m. ET this Friday, May 24, for our year-long program to help newsrooms do more journalism based on community listening. We’re looking for individuals who want to help their newsrooms become more attuned and responsive to community information needs, but who need guidance on how to make that happen. Selected participants will attend an orientation on July 22-23 in Washington, D.C., to hear from API and journalists who have implemented listening projects or techniques into their reporting workflows. Session leaders include Sandra Clark (WHYY), Ashley Alvarado (KPCC) and Joy Mayer (Gather + Trusting News). Learn more, ask questions, and get your application started.


3 tips for reporting on rural health (Journalist’s Resource)

Based on a conversation with Mark Holmes, a University of North Carolina professor and director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, Journalist’s Resource shares several ideas for approaching rural health coverage. Holmes points to the importance of understanding the difference between each rural region in the United States, because they all face different health issues based on factors like demographics, geography and poverty. For instance, access to hospitals is an issue in the Midwest and the South, but for different reasons. The rural Midwest is very isolated, putting distance between residents and hospitals, while rural areas in the South are dealing with more hospital closures and financial distress. Holmes also recommends considering ways that health overlaps with other beats, like economic development, and devoting time to covering rural solutions to the community health issues.

+ Facebook created 3 types of maps to help nonprofits and others in the public health sector (Adweek)


Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy (CNN)

For more than a century, long before fake news traveled online, Finland was a target of Russian propaganda. The country copes with Kremlin-backed misinformation spanning topics from immigration to NATO, but after launching a program to fight fake news in 2014, Finland was ranked No. 1 in media literacy among European countries. Finland’s strategy focuses on education with big changes, like reforming the education system to focus on critical thinking skills, and less abstract efforts, including a course for journalists, politicians, students and laypeople on how to deal with false information.

+ How Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter halved subscriber churn in 2 years (Digiday)


Stop trying to ‘find’ meaningful work and create it instead (Fast Company)

Sociologist and author Tracy Brower argues that meaningful work isn’t something you find, it’s something you create. Brower suggests ways to pull this off, like pinning down what you’re good at and pursuing that as a job or just a side hustle or hobby. She also focuses on the relationship between meaningful work and connecting with people, and suggests working with people you can learn from and who make you feel supported. Along a similar vein, she recommends considering how your work or your company’s products and services impact your community at large.


Kissing babies, loving scrapple, fighting viral hoaxes: 2020 race’s new routine (New York Times)

During the last presidential election, Russian-originated social media accounts helped organize pro-Trump rallies and falsely claimed that a protester who rushed then-candidate Donald Trump had ISIS connections. Media columnist Jim Rutenberg predicts that misinformation spread during the 2020 presidential campaign “will make 2016 look like a mere test run.” Unlike other forms of media, he writes, online speech connected to elections is exempt from many campaign finance laws and is largely unregulated.


The 016, a social network for Worcester, seeks to become a ‘delivery boy and booster’ for local media (Nieman Lab)

In a few ways, social network The 016 is the anti-Facebook. Based in Worcester, Mass., it’s hyper-local, and unlike Facebook, algorithms don’t control what users see on The 016. Instead, platform users “see everything they’ve asked for” based on the settings for their preferences, such as local news. About a half-dozen media organizations have pages on The 016, which also sells sponsored content spots. The 016’s founders like to think of the site as having a cooperative relationship with local media, or as Kevin Meagher said, “We’re delivery boy and booster. And no one should be afraid of us.”