Need to Know: May 3, 2022


You might have heard: May 3 is UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day (UNESCO)

But did you know: There are glimpses of hope among an increase in digital and physical threats (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

Around the world, journalists are facing more attacks from governments and everyday citizens. But human rights defenders and journalists are increasingly working together to counter these attacks. Collaborations between rival news outlets, as well as the rise in nonprofit news outlets, are helping, as are technological advances like VPNs. Exiled journalists are doing important work to cover their home countries, and outlets are using old-fashioned methods like shortwave radio to reach people in far-flung areas. In a panel hosted by the International Center for Journalists, journalists from around the world said that the situation is dire, but that the persistence of reporters who continue to do their jobs in the face of the challenges is a sign of encouragement.

+ Noted: Why Politico’s big Roe v. Wade scoop is unprecedented (Poynter); The Lenfest Institute released its 2021 Impact Report (The Lenfest Institute); Thomson Reuters commits to human rights assessment of ICE contracts after union investor push (The Verge); NBC publishes editor’s note revealing 11 articles were plagiarized (NBC News); Facebook pulls the plug on podcast business after a year (Bloomberg)


How to build a better J-school: Emphasize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (Poynter)

Poynter’s Barbara Allen has been asking a critical question: What changes could J-schools make to improve the industry? In this second piece on the topic, API’s director of inclusion and audience growth, Letrell Crittenden, writes that journalism schools have not done enough to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in their coursework. “If we are to truly transform how newsrooms serve communities of color, these same conversations must also take place in college classrooms across the nation,” Crittenden writes. Schools must focus on community engagement and trust-building as core journalistic values, and work to ensure that journalism students are interacting with communities outside of their campus.


How Indigenous journalists make way for sunshine (The Center for Public Integrity)

Many Indigenous tribes don’t have any freedom of information requirements, making it difficult for tribal journalists to cover their governments. And most tribal newspapers are owned and funded by the tribes’ governments, since the communities are too small to support an independent news organization. But increasingly, journalists are pushing for more freedom within their tribes. Last year, the Muscogee Nation voted to enshrine “a free and editorially independent press” in the tribe’s constitution. The Native American Journalists Association’s Indigenous Investigative Collective is providing mechanisms to help whistleblowers share tips, as well as promoting tribal press freedom and FOI laws.


How Le Monde plans to net 150,000 English-speaking subscribers by 2025 (AdWeek)

In April, French newspaper Le Monde launched its first English-language project as part of a larger attempt to reach 1 million digital subscribers. The U.S. is a crucial market for this product; it is the fourth largest market for Le Monde’s French-language journalism, and American users are more familiar with digital subscriptions than readers in other countries. The April launch was timed to coincide with France’s presidential contest between President Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. The paper hopes that it will appeal to Americans’ interest in French culture, as well as offering “the European perspective on global events,” writes Mark Stenberg. All of the content will be translated from French.


How a billionaires boys’ club came to dominate the public square (The Washington Post)

With Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, a small number of incredibly wealthy men play an increasingly outsize role in the public discourse, write Michael Scherer and Sarah Ellison. Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post means that one of the world’s wealthiest men has some control over the hiring and shaping of a prominent news organization, while Mark Zuckerberg and, soon, Musk will have control over the algorithms that control the information that many people see on social media.

+ Related: How Twitter’s board went from fighting Elon Musk to accepting him (The New York Times)


There is no news & opinion “divide” at Fox News (Substack, Oliver Willis Explains)

While the conventional wisdom has it that Fox News features news programming during daytime hours and opinion programming in prime time, Oliver Willis writes that no such divide exists. This narrative “is an attempt to throw media reporters, prospective advertisers, and the public at large off,” he writes. Willis argues that for media critics and political reporters, the idea that Fox News is simply a conservative outlet “essentially working under the same concept of journalism” as mainstream organizations has allowed the network to pass off biased punditry has straight-forward reporting.

+ Related: The Times’ Tucker Carlson series is a triumph of explanatory journalism (Media Nation); Opening the next front in the battle against Fox News (Press Watch)


How it became normal for public officials to attack journalists (The Washington Post)

Last week, Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian was targeted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff for running an article about a cover-up at the police department. It’s part of a larger “brazen trend of officials using government power to punish or push back on journalists for articles they don’t like,” write Elahe Izadi and Paul Farhi. Experts say that the current environment has shown that there can be political incentives for demonizing the press, while the increase in social media animosity towards the mainstream media means that such attacks no longer seem outrageous.