Need to Know: May 25, 2022


You might have heard: Elizabeth Green cloned her successful Chalkbeat model with Votebeat (Poynter) 

But did you know: Originally a ‘pop-up’ project, Votebeat launches as a permanent newsroom (Axios)

Votebeat, an offshoot of the education nonprofit Chalkbeat, has launched as a standalone newsroom. Votebeat started as a three-month “pop-up” local project in October of 2020, covering elections in eight states. Now, with $3.1 million in funding, the outlet will be the only organization exclusively covering local elections, reports Sara Fischer. All reporters go through a two-week intensive training on local elections, which covers topics like misinformation, legal battles and the mechanics of voting. Votebeat is starting in four states, and plans to to grow to all fifty states with three reporters in each, said editor in chief Chad Lorenz. 

+ Noted: Jen Psaki, former White House press secretary, to launch streaming MSNBC show in 2023 (Variety); Outside media company will cut three magazines and lay off dozens of employees (Poynter); New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces (CNN) 


16 newsrooms are testing strategies to combat polarization and build trust (Medium, Trusting News)

Trusting News is launching two additional projects through our Pluralism Network. These projects will focus on how journalists can invest in listening and better reflect the complexity of their communities. Journalists from 16 newsrooms will be collaborating with the Trusting News staff and research team to test strategies in order to build on this knowledge before the midterm elections. The two projects are an anti-polarization checklist, which will help editors assess whether individual stories are reflecting their communities with complexity and fueling curiosity, and outreach to low-trust community members, which will identify segments of their community that typically have low trust in news and reach out to people in those communities every week. 

+ Trust Tip: Copy/paste this text to help your audience understand how news works (Trusting News) 


Scripps and Google are recruiting print journalists to broadcast news (Poynter)

The E.W. Scripps Company and Google are teaming up for the Scripps Journalism Journey Initiative, which will help experienced print journalists transition into broadcast careers at Scripps’ local and national newsrooms. Adam Symson, Scripps president and CEO, said that the company has had trouble transitioning print journalists to broadcasting, and that he hoped the initiative would stop mid-career journalists who are downsized from newspapers from leaving the industry, writes Amaris Castillo. Applications for the program are expected to open this summer. 


‘Star reporter with no income’: What an Indian journalist’s death tells us about the state of rural reporters (News Laundry) 

Indian journalist Pawan Jaiswal’s recent death — from cancer he could not afford to treat — is a reminder of how small-town journalists struggle to pay the bills, writes Tanishka Sodhi. Jaiswal worked primarily as a stringer for various news organizations, but his family said he rarely made more than “a few thousand” rupees per month, or less than $50. “Small-town India is teeming with journalists like Pawan — often relegated to the background of stories headlined by city journalists who use their resources,” Sodhi writes. Stringers are often paid more for bringing in advertisers than news stories. 

+ Male Afghan TV presenters mask up to support female colleagues after Taliban decree (The Guardian)


As policy changes rattle high schools, national survey shows students strongly support free speech (Knight Foundation)

As schools have become battlegrounds over free speech, 83% of high schoolers say that free speech is important to democracy. And while 89% of students say that people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, only 40% agree that people should be allowed to express offensive ideas. A majority of students said that they feel comfortable expressing disagreement with peers and teachers. Just over half (57%) of high schools are against government censorship of news, roughly the same amount that are opposed to censorship of social media. 

+ Hawaii governor signs student journalism protections bill (Associated Press) 


Fox News is going out of its way to defend Tucker Carlson as criticism grows over his promotion of white supremacist rhetoric (Insider)

In the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, Fox News and Tucker Carlson have come under fire for Carlon’s  promotion of the “great replacement” theory. But unlike during the Roger Ailes era — when a Fox News host would often be on a “pre-planned” vacation after a controversy —  current Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch have given Carlson even more autonomy. Meanwhile, weekend host Howard Kurtz dedicated an entire segment to defending Carlson, saying that to blame Carlson for the shooting was “absurd.” 

+ Related: ‘It comes with the territory’: Lachlan Murdoch responds to criticism that Fox News is polarizing (Axios) 


In some states, students account for a large and growing share of statehouse reporters (Pew Research Center)

More than 10% of state capitol reporters are students, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. This year, the states with the highest percentage of student statehouse reporters are Nebraska (58%), Missouri (51%) and West Virginia (29%). Some of these students work for university-run news services, writes Carrie Blazina, while others are interns at professional news outlets. Many local news outlets rely on university news services for coverage of state government. The number of students covering statehouses for newspaper and television stations has dropped dramatically since 2014, while the percentage working for nonprofit newsrooms has doubled in that time.

+ Earlier: Total number of U.S. statehouse reporters rises, but fewer are on the beat full time (Pew Research Center)