Need to Know: May 4, 2022


You might have heard: Lee’s slate of directors elected, Alden Global Capital takeover attempt blocked for now (Poynter)

But did you know: Huge layoffs expected at Lee Enterprises (Axios)

After avoiding a takeover by Alden Global Capital earlier this year, Lee Enterprises has laid off dozens of employees as part of larger budget cuts, write Sara Fischer and Kerry Flynn. One source said that the company is expected to eliminate more than 400 roles, representing about 10% of the workforce. Lee owns more than 400 publications across 77 markets in 26 states. Fischer and Flynn report that sources say they were laid off, “only to have their same role re-posted online for less money.” Many of the layoffs have been top editors and other non-union employees in union newsrooms.

+ Noted: New York Times reaches 9.1 million subscribers (The New York Times); Reporters Without Borders releases its 2022 World Press Freedom Index (RSF)


API is hiring a Web Applications Engineer 

The American Press Institute is hiring a Web Applications Engineer to join the Product Strategy team and support the technical development of API’s news products. This Web Applications Engineer will work at the intersection of journalism and product, so an understanding of media and the role product can play in innovating and serving audiences is crucial. This is a full-time position with a salary between $70,000 and $80,000. The deadline for application submissions is June 1.

+ Trust Tip: Get on the record about where you stand on democracy (Trusting News)


Five steps for creating a newsroom that reflects America (Current)

Despite an industry-wide reckoning about race, media outlets in the U.S. are still much whiter than the country they cover. Kyra Kyles of YR Media writes that it is possible for all outlets to increase their diversity to better match their target audiences. Her steps to a more representative newsroom include releasing diversity data, ending unpaid internships, providing mentorship and providing agency for new hires. She also says it’s important to not make a new hire “the one” person who is representative of their entire community, an unfair and impossible situation for any one person.


The BBC commissioned a study to show what life without the BBC would be like (Nieman Lab)

The license fee that British citizens pay to access TV and radio from the BBC has become a hot-button political issue in the U.K. in recent years. In response, the BBC commissioned a study in which 80 British households were deprived of all BBC content for nine days, then asked whether the savings of £4 ($5) was worth it. Of the 60 households who initially said they wanted to pay less for the license fee or nothing at all, 70% were willing to pay the full price by the end of the study. (Of the 20 who initially said they were happy to pay the full price, 19 still felt that way.)

+ Report for the World opens first-ever global call for local newsroom applications (Report for the World)


Meta has built a massive new language AI — and it’s giving it away for free (MIT Technology Review)

Meta’s artificial intelligence lab has built a new language model, and it is giving it away to researchers to study. The company is also providing details about how the language was built and trained. This is the first time that a fully trained language model of this size has been made available to any researcher who wants to study it, writes Will Douglas Heaven. Experts in the AI field have long worried that the development of language models within private companies will lead to biased programs that parrot “misinformation, prejudice, and toxic language.”


Politico’s Supreme Court leak leaves some lingering ethics questions (Poynter)

Politico’s decision to publish a draft of a Supreme Court decision concerning abortion “will likely become a case study for future generations of journalists,” writes Kelly McBride. The authors of the Politico story said they had received details that support “the authenticity of the document,” but, McBride writes, they should have been more forthcoming about why they were confident enough in its veracity to publish it. But with the decision to publish the opinion — a major piece of news with far-reaching implications — Politico seems to be “on solid ethical ground,” she writes.

+ Related: Supreme Court says leaked abortion draft is authentic (CNBC); The implications of the draft Roe opinion leaking to the press (Columbia Journalism Review); The original Roe v. Wade decision also was leaked to the press (The Washington Post); The Supreme Court leaks all the time (Vice); Is leaking a Supreme Court opinion a crime? The law Is far from clear (Wired); It’s about time someone punctured the Supreme Court’s veil of secrecy (Politico)


Questions about diversity, inclusiveness threaten accreditation of UNC journalism school (WRAL)

Last week, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications voted to downgrade the accreditation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. The Council found that UNC was out of compliance with its Resolution on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice, leading to the downgrade from full accreditation to a provisional status. The accrediting team wrote that the Nikole Hannah-Jones’ decision to turn down a tenured chair at the school “exposed long-standing problems,” many of which stem from the program’s inconsistent execution of its own diversity plan.