Need to Know: November 17, 2022


You might have heard: Iran protesters refuse to back down as first execution sentence handed down (Newsweek)

But did you know: False claim about Iran protester executions goes viral with help from celebrities and politicians (NBC News)

News articles and an infographic shared widely on social media earlier this week claimed “Iran sentences 15,000 protesters to death — as a ‘hard lesson’ for all rebels,” causing celebrities and politicians — including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — to speak out against Iran’s decision. But the claim, which spread after the first death sentence for an Iranian protester was announced, has been debunked. Instagram now flags the posts as “false information,” but Twitter has not fact-checked the posts on its platform. Trudeau deleted his post about the claim, and his office stated that “The post was informed by initial reporting that was incomplete and lacked necessary context.”

+ Noted: Techdirt will no longer embed tweets in its articles (Techdirt); Some readers are canceling digital subscriptions (Media Post); NBC News suspends reporter for retracted Paul Pelosi story (The Daily Beast); The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Dore resigns (The Sydney Morning Herald)


Knowing the news: How Gen Z and Millennials get information on essential topics

A new in-depth API and AP-NORC Center study of 16- to 40-year-olds provides practical guidance to news organizations on how Gen Z and Millennials engage with important news topics. As the U.S. continues to learn more about public behavior during the recent midterm elections and enters a third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study reveals that members of the Gen Z and Millennial generations are intensely interested in the most salient issues of the times. Topics such as crime and public safety, information about COVID-19, health and mental health, and information on traffic, transportation and weather are closely followed by Gen Z and Millennials, regardless of age, gender, race and ethnicity, type of community, and education level.

+ Concerned about the direction of Twitter? Join the conversation with API. 


The New York Times, Critical Minded launch program to develop and publish cultural critics from diverse backgrounds (NYT Co.)

A new one-year program at The New York Times aims to seek out freelance critics from underrepresented backgrounds who have little or no experience contributing to The Times Culture section. The program’s editor will coach them on how to write for a national publication with the goal of publishing their work in The Times. The past decade has seen a decline of robust cultural criticism outside of the biggest media markets, and The Times hopes to promote freelance critics that reflect the diversity of the country and those creating artistic works. 


Journalists have Qatar World Cup visas revoked after Iranian ‘terrorist’ designation (Press Gazette)

Journalists with London-based Iran International Television may not be able to cover the World Cup in Qatar after the news outlet was designated a terrorist organization by the Iranian government. IITV alleges that Iran pressured Qatar to rescind its journalists’ visas due to its critical coverage of the Iranian government. Three journalists with FIFA-issued permits had that accreditation revoked, while four others with entry visas from Qatar were told the visas now permit entry but not work.


Facebook fact-checkers will stop checking Trump after presidential bid announcement (CNN)

Now that Donald Trump has announced his presidential run, Facebook told its fact-checkers to stop fact-checking anything he says — despite the fact that Trump is still banned from Facebook. Anything Trump says that is shared on Facebook by others, including in the “Team Trump” page run by Trump’s political group with 2.3 million followers, can’t be fact-checked. According to a memo shared within Meta, this decision is consistent with Facebook’s rule that political speech is ineligible for fact-checking.


Fact deserts leave states vulnerable to election lies (Duke Reporters’ Lab)

Statements made by candidates in 29 states rarely faced the scrutiny of independent fact-checkers due to a lack of local fact-checkers, a new report found. The number of locally focused fact-checking projects has not changed since the 2016 elections, and at least 40 fact-checking projects have come and gone since 2010. Among the states lacking dedicated fact-checking projects are four that had hotly contested races this fall.

Even in the places where diligent local media outlets regularly made active efforts to verify the accuracy of political claims, the volume of questionable statements in debates, speeches, campaign ads and social posts far outpaced the fact-checkers’ ability to set the record straight.

– Erica Ryan, Mark Stencel and Belen Bricchi, Duke Reporters’ Lab