Need to Know: May 9, 2022


You might have heard: Some reporters rely on public data, rather than secret sources (The New York Times)

But did you know: Detailed ‘open source’ news investigations are catching on (The Associated Press)

Investigations like one in which The New York Times used intercepted radio transmissions to report on disarray among Russian troops rely on open-source reporting — the use of videos, satellite images or other publicly available materials to build stories. The field is “rapidly catching on,” writes David Bauder, who notes that two such investigations, from The Times and The Washington Post, recently won duPont-Columbia awards for excellence in digital and broadcast journalism. Malachy Browne, senior story producer at the Times, said there is an “overwhelming amount of evidence out there on the open web” for reporters to use in  such pieces.

+ Noted: The Associated Press launches a one-minute archive film competition, open to entrants around the world (Sheffield DocFest); Politico’s exclusive on Roe v. Wade was most-viewed story in outlet’s history (CNN)


API is hiring

API is hiring an administrative assistant to help ensure that the organization’s operations function smoothly. The role involves assisting the finance department, tracking project expenses, reviewing expense reports, coordinating staff travel and assisting with events. The deadline for applications is by May 30. We are also hiring a Web Applications Engineer to support the technical development of API’s news products. The 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. The deadline for applications is June 1. For both roles, email a resume and a letter explaining your qualifications and desire for the role to


The Washington Post deploys democracy team (Editor & Publisher)

The Washington Post is deploying journalists on its “democracy” team in three initial locations — Georgia, Arizona and the upper Midwest — to document changes in voting laws, the influence of advocacy groups and election administration given the “sustained effort to sow doubt about whether votes are being counted accurately,” Matea Gold, The Post’s national editor, told Gretchen A. Peck. The team’s members will report from local, state and regional perspectives but they will collaborate with reporters covering the issues from a broader perspective, she said. The team will also explore the effects of public distrust and polarization on elections. 


Future remains cloudy for exiled Myanmar journalists in Thailand (Voice of America)

When Myanmar’s military seized power a year ago, a number of journalists fled to Thailand, where many still live, often in fear of being rounded up by police or deported, writes Teeranai Charuvastra. Media organizations in Thailand have tried to help with financial or legal assistance so the journalists can continue their news operations. But more could be done, according to longtime Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe. “Many undocumented exiled Myanmar journalists need a break and they also need mental health assistance,” he said.

+ Ninth journalist killed in Mexico this year as violence against media soars (The Guardian)


The demise of 90s feminist-zine culture (The Atlantic)

Bitch magazine, which announced that it will cease publication in June, was highly influential, publishing some of feminism’s most formative writing, writes Samhita Mukhopadhyay. The magazine and others like it, she wrote, gave young women alternatives to glossy magazines that focused on — and were supported by advertising for — diet culture, the beauty industry and luxury fashion. “The story of Bitch is, in part, the story of how feminist publications influenced the coverage of gender issues writ large,” Mukhopadhyay writes. “But it’s also the story of the difficulties of keeping independent outlets afloat, especially in the face of a feminist backlash.”


What is the ‘product’ of journalism? (Poynter)

Journalists need to better understand and think more about the product in which their stories are packaged, writes David Cohn. A story on a web page is sort of like a single M&M. “The M&Ms come in packages. That’s what people pay for,” Cohn argues. Too many people, he says, think an audience will pay for a single piece of journalism. But the whole package involves collecting, filtering and distributing the information as an experience. “Trust, information and editorial meaning isn’t just what we report, write or broadcast, it’s impacted by how we design the experience, from the layout to the algorithm to the CMS that determines what input fields are possible,” he writes, saying all those elements are part of an equation that can create or dissolve trust.


The New York Times can’t shake the cloud over a 90-year-old Pulitzer Prize (NPR)

The war in Ukraine has revived questions about whether the New York Times should return a Pulitzer Prize won in 1932 by Walter Duranty, a Times correspondent in the Soviet Union, writes David Folkenflik. Duranty has been criticized for stories he wrote questioning the existence of a mass famine that occurred in Ukraine as a result of the Soviets’ collectivization of agriculture. Folkenflik writes that Duranty “had staked his name on the idea that Josef Stalin was the strong leader the communist country needed” and in return got rare interviews with Stalin.