Need to Know: May 6, 2021


You might have heard: A Daily News reporter begs a local owner to rescue the tabloid from Alden Global Capital (The New York Daily News) 

But did you know: NewsGuild formally makes the case that Tribune Publishing shareholders should reject Alden’s takeover offer (Poynter)

The NewsGuild is trying to persuade the board of Tribune Publishing to reject Alden Global Capital’s bid for the company, which will be decided on May 21. One argument is that Alden’s bid — $17.25 per share — undervalues the company, and that Alden’s financial situation is too insecure to ensure that it will stay solvent after the purchase. The Guild owns some stock in Tribune Publishing, and its appeal to the economic considerations of the deal seems aimed at the committee of independent directors who are considering the offer, all of whom come from non-journalism financial backgrounds. Rick Edmonds at Poynter says that some of the accusations laid out in the letter could provide a basis for a legal challenge if Alden’s bid is accepted.

+ Noted: Google News Initiative and INN expand Sponsorships Lab (Institute for Nonprofit News); More New York Times subscriptions coming from non-news products in the Biden era (Axios) 


People pay for news that reinforces their social identities

A 2019 study found that one of the biggest motivations for subscribing to news is the desire to “fit in socially.” Researchers found a strong, statistically significant relationship between survey respondents’ agreement with the statements that the news they consume “defines” and “promotes” their membership in the groups to which they belong, and their subscribing to both local and national newspapers. This article is part of API’s Research Review series, which highlights academic research that could be relevant and useful to the news industry.


How Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service built a racially diverse team that reflects the community it serves (Medium, LION Publishers) 

With many legacy newsrooms struggling to reflect their own communities, independent news outlets like the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (MNNS) are stepping in. Nearly 70 percent of MNNS’s staffers identify as a person of color, and editor Ron Smith says this was achieved by broadening the paper’s recruiting efforts for new hires. Even word-of-mouth referrals from readers were available because the news site had developed deep connections within the community. New application questions that focused more on the community than on traditional journalism skills allowed hires from nontraditional backgrounds to shine, and an increased focus on training has helped retain a diverse newsroom. 

+ The Philadelphia Inquirer announces year-long project exploring “the racist origins, practices, and consequences” of Philadelphia-based institutions (Twitter, @emarvelous) 


For its 200th anniversary, The Guardian annotates its first ever edition (The Guardian) 

As The Guardian in the UK celebrates its 200th anniversary, the paper has released an annotated version of its first-ever edition. The paper, then called The Manchester Guardian, began as a weekly, and sold for seven pence, which is worth about £2 today. In the interactive annotation, editors and designers from The Guardian explain historical quirks — four pence from each edition went towards paying a stamp tax — and walk readers through the prominent use of ads on the front page. The annotation also highlights the paper’s first editorial, where the editors vow to be “enemies of scurrility and slander,” and a letter to the editors, dubbed the paper’s first “user-generated content.” 


Facebook tried to punt the Trump decision (CNN) 

On Wednesday morning, the Facebook Oversight Board ruled that the social media platform was right to suspend then-President Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But the Board said Facebook itself must decide whether Trump should officially be banned forever, rather than simply prolonging his suspension indefinitely. It was within the Board’s power to make this decision on its own, writes Donie O’Sullivan, leading some to argue that the Board is simply passing the buck. But Sullivan argues, it actually clears the Board of one of its primary criticisms — that it exists to give Facebook cover — and instead forces the social media company to make serious and concrete decisions about content moderation. 


Is the White House press corps rooting for the White House press secretary? (Washingtonian) 

President Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, has earned positive reviews from the White House press corps for her mannered, civil persona, though several reporters say that her professional demeanor shines mostly in comparison to the lies and aggressiveness of former President Trump’s press secretaries. Even so, it’s earned her internet fans, some of whom celebrate with the hashtag #Psakibomb when she shuts down press corps questions. That perspective, writes Jessica M. Goldstein, sits uncomfortably for some, who don’t think it’s appropriate to celebrate the White House avoiding reporter questions. And even a few months in, the Biden administration does not have a perfect record of openness; Goldstein writes that Psaki’s popularity “may do more for the performance of transparency than actual transparency.” 


What one newsroom learned from introducing paid positions for low-income student journalists of color (Poynter) 

For many college students, working for free for the campus newspaper is not a financial option. So in order to make the student newspaper more representative of the campus at large, the staff of Wesleyan University’s Wesleyan Argus developed the The Argus Voices Fund, which offers paid reporting jobs to students of color from low-income backgrounds. Last summer, editors for the paper fundraised nearly $3,000, which funded two, full-year positions. For other students looking to start a similar fund, the editors advise that they think carefully about fundraising strategy and how to ensure that the program is sustainable so that writers can continue to contribute.