Need to Know: Nov. 18, 2019


You might have heard: Most Americans think that local news is doing well financially, and not many pay for it (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Americans favor private funding sources over public subsidies for local news (Knight Foundation)

A Knight/Gallup study published this weekend found that 86% of Americans think people should have access to local news, even if they don’t pay for it. However, they’re divided along partisan lines on how — or whether — local news should be sustained. Overall, 66% oppose support from the federal government for local news, and 60% from the local government. Few Republicans think federal or local tax funds should support local news (8% and 14%, respectively); while most Democrats (53% and 61%) say they do favor federal tax funds and local tax funds supporting local news. The report also found that the subscriber base for local news has shrunk dramatically: 57% say they subscribed at one time, but only 33% — 1 in 5 — subscribe today. Adults over 55 years old are more likely to subscribe, while those 18 to 34 years old are twice as likely as people 55 and older to donate to a news organization.

+ Noted: McClatchy stock crashed Friday after the company warned of a pension funding crisis (Poynter)


College students and recent graduates: Apply for our summer internship in news analytics

API is hiring a paid summer intern to learn about audience engagement and help us share best practices in audience analytics with the wider journalism industry. We’re looking for college students or recent graduates with an interest in how newsrooms can use their data to better engage audiences. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, learn more here.


How a new generation of young storytellers is making TV news hyperlocal (Cronkite News Lab)

Starting with KABC-TV in Southern California, 8 ABC stations have launched a community journalism program that embeds reporters in neighborhoods where residents’ typical experience with journalism is a news helicopter flying overhead, or a crew showing up to cover a fire down the street. The embedded journalists “live where they work,” says KABC-TV President and GM Cheryl Fair. “They wouldn’t have to come in to the station every day like all the rest of our reporters. They wouldn’t have to drive out with the news trucks, they would be shooters, editors, they’d be digital natives, with lots of proficiency when it came to publishing to digital. And they would become part of the community that they’re covering.”

+ How the Orlando Sentinel’s John Cutter explains their policy around anonymous sources (Orlando Sentinel)


Latin American media to get $4.4 million as part of Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)

Thirty winners in 10 Latin American countries were selected as part of the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenges for 2019 and together will receive about $4.4 million to develop digital projects. The winners represented big media companies as well as small nonprofit newsrooms, and the projects focus on a range of challenges presented by the digital media environment, including membership, subscriptions, advertising, machine learning, artificial intelligence, gamification, misinformation, fake news, open data, and news for kids.


Here’s how Russia will attack the 2020 election. We’re still not ready. (Washington Post)

While much of the battle against disinformation has focused on what the major tech platforms are or are not doing to prevent it, traditional media also plays a significant role — especially when it comes to breaking the cycle of amplifying disinformation. “Propaganda professionals such as [Russian military intelligence agency] GRU have a strong track record of inserting wild conspiracy theories and false claims into the media environment; repeating those theories and claims, even to debunk them, gives the propagandists the amplification victory they seek,” write Renee DiResta, Michael McFaul and Alex Stamos.

PQ: “Editors and reporters should consider how they will react to these situations now, rather than improvising reactions to the wave of disinformation we know is on the way. Newsrooms should carefully consider how the volume of their coverage might be manipulated by strategic leaks.”


The press should name the whistleblower (Politico)

The media’s refusal to reveal the identity of the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower is a misguided attempt to toe the ethical line, writes Jack Shafer. It “puts the country’s top publications at risk of losing the trust of their readers” — and while it’s important to take into consideration the whistleblower’s protection, “that way lies a slick, treacherous slope,” he argues. “If the whistleblower faces dire danger for sounding the alarm, what of the other officials who have seconded his information? Should their identities be shielded, too, because a loon might attack them or their family for confirming the Trump-damaging truth? Of course not.”


In prime time, two versions of impeachment for a divided nation (New York Times)

Coverage of the impeachment inquiry from Fox and MSNBC starkly illustrate the choose-your-own-news media environment we now live in — a “far cry from the era when Americans experienced major events through the same television hearth,” writes Michael M. Grynbaum. Americans increasingly prefer partisan news outlets, and the divide extends far beyond cable. “An entire news pipeline — from message threads on Reddit to chatter on Twitter and partisan Facebook groups — allows Americans to consume information that confirms their own biases and beliefs.”