Need to Know: May 26, 2022


You might have heard: A massacre in Uvalde, and the ‘numbing script’ of gun-violence coverage (Columbia Journalism Review)

But did you know: Another gun massacre, the same grim news story (The Washington Post)

News coverage of the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas “feels like a grotesque deja vu,” write Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi. CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who asked emotionally after the Buffalo grocery store shooting if “we are destined to just keep doing this, city after city,” was doing it again barely a week later. NPR host Rachel Martin said such shootings have “become this painful routine that is just excruciating.” In explaining why it was re-upping a piece about how to talk to children about the shootings, The Washington Post said, “We’ve written this story too many times.” As one political science professor put it, “The talking points have calcified since Sandy Hook.”

+ Related: Cable news approaches Uvalde school shooting with a practiced weariness (The Washington Post) Texas newspapers demand ‘reasonable gun control’ after school massacre (The Washington Post); Debunking 3 viral rumors about the Texas shooting (The New York Times)


Explain your goals, process and integrity when covering mass shootings (Medium, Trusting News)

When tragic news is unfolding, how can journalists document it on behalf of their communities while also processing it as human beings? Have empathy for what it’s like to consume the news at times like this. If it’s not a local story, be aware of how you’re handling wire copy. And if it is a local story, explain how you’re deploying your team and what they’re working on. Trusting News’ Joy Mayer spells out these ideas and several others for how journalists can explain their coverage of shootings like those in Buffalo and Uvalde.

+ Related: Remember, journalists, to take care of yourselves (Poynter); Resources for journalists covering the shooting (Dart Center); Covering mass shootings (Journalist’s Toolbox)  


How two Texas newspapers broke open the Southern Baptist sex scandal (The Washington Post)

A 300-page report concluding that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention had covered up sex abuse cases and belittled the victims has its roots in reporting by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, writes Elahe Izadi. The 2019 “Abuse of Faith” series involved creating detailed databases, sifting through court records, interviewing local DAs and seeking comment from alleged abusers. Former Chronicle executive editor Steve Riley, who oversaw the probe, says he fears local newsrooms will increasingly be unable to commit resources to such efforts. “If it is only the New York Times or The Washington Post and ProPublica who are able to do this kind of work, then they’re going to miss a lot and they’re not going to be around to follow up once it’s done,” he said.


Why U.K. journalism’s class problem matters, and what can be done about it (Press Gazette) 

A recent study shows that U.K. journalism is mostly made up of people from middle- and upper-class backgrounds. One problem, writes Andrew Kersley, is that the “pipeline” to journalism careers is less clear than in the past. Journalists used to start at local papers, but there are fewer of those now. Low wages in early career jobs are also a factor. Experts recommended paying interns and raising entry-level pay, as well as implementing blind resume reviews, and even changing the content “to reflect more on the day-to-day issues of a broader range of people — even if at first it struggles to gain a huge audience,” Kersley writes.

+ Inside Bloomberg Media’s regional expansion plan into an economically uncertain U.K. (Digiday)


How three journalists covered one of the world’s most dangerous border crossings (Global Investigative Journalism Network) 

Last year 133,000 migrants crossed the dangerous Darién Gap, a secluded rainforest on the border between Colombia and Panama, and that number is expected to grow. But the trip is arduous and risky, as detailed by Nadja Drost in her account for The California Sunday Magazine, which won a 2021 Pulitzer Prize. To get the story, Drost and video and photojournalists Bruno Federico and Carlos Villalón took the trip with a group of migrants on foot, writes Santiago Villa. He described the journalists’ myriad preparations, the dangers they faced and how they built trust with their sources to put together the tale of their week-long journey. 


For Online News Association, the thorny ethics of partnering with 3M (Undark)

The new “3M Truth in Science Award” from the Online News Association awards a $3,500 cash prize for science journalism that combats misinformation. But the ethics of applying for the award “feels squishy,” writes Teresa Carr. She says that for decades 3M withheld information about “forever chemicals” that have accumulated in the environment and in human bloodstreams. Corporate sponsorship is common in journalism, and ONA’s executive director explained that the company donated $84,500 to the association for broader efforts to fight misinformation. Also, 3M has no role in the judging. Still, writes Carr, the award “implies that we — journalists and chemical companies — are interested in telling the same story about the events unfolding around us. And we aren’t.”


The true cost of a job search (Editor & Publisher)

Since she was laid off by HuffPost last year, Jennifer Kho has spent hundreds of hours on resumes, cover letters, applications, references and other presentations. She talked with other news industry job seekers who also said they have gone through panels of interviews and put in unpaid labor on memos and other work, often to no end. Sometimes they are ghosted by prospective employers. Sometimes jobs just disappear. She wonders how many good candidates are shut out by a process that only people with time and money can navigate. “And what’s the impact on diversity and equity?” she asks. As one senior editor told Kho, “Finding a job in journalism is not for the faint of heart.”