Need to Know: November 20, 2020


You might have heard: Reporters must stop misgendering trans murder victims (Columbia Journalism Review) 

But did you know: News outlets misidentified nearly two out of three victims of anti-trans violence in 2020 (Media Matters for America)

23 of the 37 trans people who have been reported killed in the U.S. during 2020 have been misgendered or deadnamed by media organizations, according to a survey by Media Matters. This is generally a result of media organizations parroting the names and genders that police use, which are often outdated and incorrect. The vast majority of these articles never corrected the victim’s identity, including many that added that the victim was trans but did not update their name or gender. These outlets include the AP, CNN and major newspapers across the country. Outlets that did update the stories to remove misidentifying details include The Seattle Times, The Dallas Morning News, and the Star Tribune.

+ Noted: BuzzFeed to acquire HuffPost in deal with Verizon Media (Wall Street Journal); Journalism 360 Challenge awards $100,000 to 12 projects that advance immersive storytelling (ONA); McCoy, CMG to launch Multicultural News Network (TV News Check); Google News Initiative launches the GNI Ad Transformation Lab to support Black- and Latino-owned news organizations (Google)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’ 

Global fact-checkers find strength in numbers, Facebook labels don’t stop the spread of false information and myths about COVID-19 go to both extremes. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


How to find diverse sources (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

Including diverse sources in reporting is an important step in moving toward a more equitable and inclusive media, but many reporters struggle to develop a network of diverse voices. Melba Newsome recommends that reporters draw on existing networks that are focused on highlighting experts from underrepresented or marginalized communities, such as People of Color Also Know Stuff and NPR’s Source of the Week. When time allows, reporters can build their own databases by reaching out to local nonprofits, trade groups and community organizations, which often have hundreds of members who would be glad to speak with the media.

+ LION is opening up its Slack channel dedicated to news entrepreneurs (LION)


Open Canada covers foreign affairs with a human touch (Nieman Reports)

Covering foreign news has not been a moneymaker for Canadian news outlets, but Michael Petrou is hoping that his new digital magazine, Open Canada, will attract readers who are interested in Canada’s place in the wider world. With global warming threatening the country’s northern border and worries that the U.S. is a less reliable ally than it has been in the past, Petrou hopes to instill interest in international news among Canadians. The goal is to include voices that are not normally included in global conferences and foreign affairs journals, such as a series of stories written by a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada five years ago.

+ Google signs copyright agreements with six French newspapers after implementation of new EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to demand a fee from online platforms showing extracts of their news (Reuters)


How a college professor is combating cancel culture (The New York Times)

Loretta J. Ross, a visiting professor at Smith College, has worked with groups around the country struggling to come to terms with racism and sexism. In her new course, she is challenging the idea of “calling someone out,” or publicly shaming them for behavior that’s seen as unacceptable. Instead of piling onto someone in a public forum, whether it’s YouTube comments or on a college campus, she encourages “calling in,” which means reaching out for a one-on-one conversation. “It’s a call out done with love,” she said, involving compassion and context. While she supports the use of calling out to hold large organizations or abusers to task, she says that problems arise when small infractions are blown out of proportion and a person is not given the chance to provide context or meaningfully apologize for their actions.

+ Facebook content moderators demand safer working conditions (TechCrunch); Google to pull back benefit to news sites that adopted its preferred mobile technology (The Markup)


Should newspapers sell ads that spread misinformation? (Heated)

Lawrence Gelman is a doctor in Texas and a climate change denier. And while major newspapers won’t publish editorials from “climate truthers” because they are based on falsehoods, Gelman has found a different way onto the pages of the mainstream press — full-page ads. He recently spent $25,000 on an ad in The Washington Post that claimed that fossil fuels have no effect on temperature or climate. The Post says that the ad falls within the company’s policy, which allows advertisers a “wide latitude to exercise their First Amendment rights.” But, Emily Atkin writes, the statements made in the ad are not opinions, but factual inaccuracies, raising the question of whether the ad should be banned on the grounds of false advertising.


5 things sustainable journalism organizations have in common (International Journalists’ Network)

A new study of 20 sustainable, quality news outlets from around Europe, the U.S. and Latin America finds that these organizations have five traits in common. One is independence and credibility; these organizations show that they are not influenced by politics or commercial interests, and show a great deal of transparency at all levels. These groups are also focused on users, not advertisers or sponsors, and they are digital-first, taking advantage of social media to reach their users. Nearly all of the organizations were founded by veteran journalists, who used their social capital in the media establishment to launch their ventures. Finally, all of the organizations encourage audience participation by interacting with readers.


+ How journalists can ward off burnout: Start by understanding trauma and practicing digital wellness (Poynter)

+ How Alexa Site Rankings are used — and misused — to give credibility to news sites (Digital Content Next)

+ What journalism can learn from mutual aid (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ This small Kansas town first lost local news in 2009. Now, the University of Kansas J-school is bringing it back. (Poynter)