Need to Know: May 24, 2019

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


You might have heard: The Trump administration is on pace to shatter the record for the most prosecutions of journalistic sources (Freedom of the Press Foundation)

But did you know: Report reveals new details about DOJ’s seizing of AP phone records (Columbia Journalism Review)

Six years ago, following Associated Press reports regarding a CIA operation in Yemen, the Department of Justice launched a leak investigation. In actions viewed as an attack on press freedoms at the time, the department issued subpoenas for the Associated Press’ phone records, as well as against several AP reporters and editors. A recently unveiled report obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shows that the DOJ’s actions were more aggressive than originally thought. The department considered subpoenaing the phone records of The Washington Post, The New York Times and ABC News, as well, and obtained phone numbers and contact information for journalists at those organizations. The report also addresses DOJ’s interpretation of its internal rules for obtaining reporters’ data, guidelines that don’t provide journalists much protection from possible criminal investigations.

+ Noted: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged with violating Espionage Act (The Washington Post); Local newspaper giant GateHouse Media is laying off hundreds of people in cuts their CEO is calling ‘immaterial’ (Business Insider); Men outnumber women by far in news photos posted to Facebook (Adweek)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of Factually: Russia’s video play, Facebook’s challenges to address misinformation leading up to the Indian election and how the term “fake news” has become a cudgel.


Eight simple ways to let the spreadsheet do the math so you can focus on the story (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

For many journalists, math is their mortal enemy. Entire books, like “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” by John Allen Paulos, are dedicated to journalists’ problematic mathematical attempts. Global Investigative Journalism Network co-founder Brant Houston counters the claim that journalists can’t do math, while noting the rise of data journalism that is nearly ubiquitous in today’s newsrooms. Luckily, he writes, “With just a spreadsheet, a journalist can let the software do the counting and calculating, allowing them to concentrate on the purpose and result of their inquiry. It also opens the door to understanding more advanced statistics, and the use or misuse of statistics by governments and businesses.” Houston outlines some of the tools found in spreadsheets, from filtering data and sorting numbers by value to calculations as simple as addition or as complicated as percentages and ratios.


80 publishers and platforms unite to fight misinformation about Argentina’s election (Poynter)

Last week, more than 80 Argentinian media outlets and tech companies formed a fact-checking initiative called Reverso, or “reverse” in Spanish  the largest collaboration of its kind in several years. The goal is to tackle misinformation as the country heads toward its October general election, with the team planning to publish fact checks starting in June. The team will host a dozen trainings throughout Argentina in an effort to improve and amplify fact-checking. The team is drawing from other projects from around the world, including an election-verification project from Mexico called Verificado and Brazil’s Comprova, which focused on WhatsApp.

+ Indonesia curbs social media, blaming hoaxes for inflaming unrest (Reuters)


4 hiring practices that create workplace drama (Fast Company)

Careful hiring practices are key to reducing potential issues, according to former employment litigator and autor Patti Perez, who recommends that you “avoid drama in the first place,” especially when it comes to diversity. She recommends companies have a system to reduce unconscious bias while selecting candidates. Companies can use technology to remove information like graduation dates and names from resumes, but Perez says that some companies lack authenticity when it comes to prioritizing diversity in the first place, which can result in anger and backlash. Finally, Perez argues that a focus on explaining workplace culture to a potential hire so that his or her expectations match what it’s actually like to work for the company.


We need news to use about climate. Give us a daily carbon dioxide count with the weather (USA TODAY)

Todd Gitlin, a journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University, wants to know why climate change isn’t “big news” every day of the week. He argues one approach is journalism serving as a reality check to remind readers of the people around the world already affected by climate change. One notable example of this approach comes from The Guardian, which has included global carbon dioxide levels in its weather forecast since last month. One resource for journalists is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, along with comparative numbers from a year and a decade earlier.


Why local foundations are putting their money behind a rural journalism collaborative (Nieman Lab)

Media philanthropy is focused on the coasts and major metropolitan areas, leaving much of the country underserved. However, local foundations, Report for America and Solutions Journalism Network are devoting $660,000 to expand newsroom engagement training and the Report for America program in the Mountain West, the region that spans the Rockies from Montana and Idaho to New Mexico. The funding will aid a journalism collaborative first formed in 2016 and made up of at least 50 newsrooms in the Mountain West with a focus on rural issues and solutions journalism. The project followed a survey from the LOR Foundation and Solutions Journalism Network that found just one in five New Mexico, Colorado and Montana residents believe their local news is consistently relevant and valuable. The majority found their news on Facebook.


+ Twitter is running lots more ads, and many are scammy or just bad (BuzzFeed)

+ A former ESPN editor’s big bet on sports gambling: Chad Millman wants to make sports betting accessible to the masses with Action Network, a site dedicated to sports gambling. (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ ‘The Times has become a book-deal factory’: With a flood of star reporters thinking of book leave, management delivers a ‘wrist slap’ (Vanity Fair)