Need to Know: May 26, 2021


You might have heard: Shareholders approved Alden’s bid to buy Tribune Publishing (The Baltimore Sun)

But did you know: Alden closes $633 million purchase of Tribune Publishing; puts newspaper chain in debt and hedge fund president in charge (Chicago Tribune)

Just a few days after shareholders’ vote to allow Alden Global Capital to purchase Tribune Publishing, the hedge fund has leveraged the newspaper chain with $278 million in debt. Alden’s $633 million purchase of the chain was fully financed, the hedge fund was immediately able to take advantage of Tribune’s cash and take on hundreds of millions of debt to close the deal. Previously, Tribune Publishing was debt-free, and had more than $250 million in cash as of earlier this year. Alden has also replaced Tribune CEO Terry Jimenez with Alden’s president, Heath Freeman. 

+ Noted: New York Times in talks to buy The Athletic (Axios); Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard announces the 84th class of fellows (Nieman); A new study finds that white evangelicals watch Fox News; Hindus and Muslims are more likely to watch CNN (Nieman Lab); This year’s INN Days will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on June 9 and June 10 (Institute for Nonprofit News) 


How The Dallas Morning News expanded its hyperlocal journalism through a web hub and newsletter initiative (Better News) 

The Dallas Morning News needed a way to expand its hyperlocal journalism, particularly its coverage of the city’s suburbs. The answer was DMN Local — an initiative to expand news coverage of 10 communities with a team of freelancers. Each community now has its own online hub and newsletter, making it easy for readers to find the news that is most relevant to them. 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.

+ Trust Tip: Ask key questions of BIPOC communities to gauge trust (Trusting News) 


NYC’s The City is hosting a series of election-focused outdoor gatherings (The City) 

The newsroom The City is launching a three-part series of outdoor gatherings as part of its Civic Newsroom project ahead of this summer’s elections in New York City. “Voterfest 2021” will take place across the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and is aimed at getting more people to participate in the June 22 primaries. The gatherings will be held in partnership with local organizations, and will feature music, local food, collaborative art projects and information about the upcoming election. That information will include guides on the offices that are up for grabs, where residents can vote and how the city’s new ranked-choice voting system will work. 


Facebook partners with Canadian news publishers on News Innovation Test (Facebook)

Facebook has announced that it will pay some Canadian publishers for the ability to link to news stories that are not already on the platform. The initiative, which includes 14 Canadian publishers, is called the News Innovation Test. Facebook says the program will “experiment with ways to enhance the experience for people on the platform who are looking for trusted Canadian news about important topics.” In practice, this may mean directing readers to outside news stories from Facebook’s “information hubs” on topics like COVID-19 and climate change. The platform says the goal is to promote a healthy news ecosystem and elevate authoritative journalism. 


AP and FanDuel form media partnership for sports odds (Axios) 

The Associated Press has teamed up with FanDuel to make the online gambling company the exclusive provider of sports odds across all of the AP’s global sports coverage. For FanDuel, this is a way to draw in more users, who can bet on games as well as fantasy sports. FanDuel is paying an unspecified amount to have widgets with sports odds distributed across the AP’s sports pages, though the newswire will retain full editorial control. Sara Fischer reports that the AP “will cite FanDuel odds as a single source in its copy when referring to betting odds” and will link to the site’s homepage rather than individual betting pages. The AP says using only one source for betting odds will “provide consistency.” 


Can COVID-19 uncertainty be fact-checked? (Poynter) 

Conventional wisdom has evolved wildly during the pandemic, from the necessity of masks to the origin of the virus. For fact-checkers, this has meant dealing with a huge amount of uncertainty, as early answers were adjusted and updated with new information. Members of the public may want definitive, unchanging answers to hard questions, which scientists are not able to provide with limited data. Fact-checkers need to incorporate this lack of certainty into their processes, writes Angie Drobnic Holan, and make clear that the best current knowledge is not necessarily gospel. 


10 tips on raising media money in your community (What’s New In Publishing)

Ohio-based Richland Source has grown its community revenue by 10 in the past three years, writes the company’s president Jay Allred. He lays out 10 steps for for-profit newsrooms to raise community money, beginning with reflecting on whether your outlet’s values inspire support. Other key factors are buy-in from the newsroom, determining your value proposition, and being specific about goals. One important step is to lay out the problem and the stakes, since local funders are unlikely to be swayed by generic arguments about threats to “the press.” Instead, focus on how your outlet can improve your specific community, Allred suggests.