Need to Know: November 23, 2021


You might have heard: In January 2020, hedge fund Alden Global Capital purchased a 6% stake in Lee Enterprises, foreshadowing a potential takeover attempt (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Alden Global Capital mounts takeover bid for Lee Enterprises (Poynter)

Alden, a hedge fund with a reputation for buying local newspaper companies, cutting their staff and selling off the historic real estate they own, mounted a bid Monday to acquire Lee Enterprises, a publicly traded newspaper chain of 75 dailies and several hundred other outlets. Alden bought Tribune Publishing this summer, bringing the Chicago Tribune and other major metro newspapers under its control and announcing layoffs across Tribune as soon as the deal closed. The bid for Lee Enterprises, valued at roughly $686 million, is likely but not certain to go through, writes Poynter’s media business analyst Rick Edmonds.

+ Earlier: Inside Alden Global Capital, the secretive hedge fund that is gutting America’s newsrooms (The Atlantic)

+ Noted: Chicago nonprofit news outlet Better Government Association will drastically expand its solutions journalism with a $10 million grant from the McCormick Foundation (


Start your 2022 source tracking goals now

Is your newsroom working to broaden the diversity of your sources to better reflect and serve the communities you cover? API recently launched a source-auditing tool called Source Matters to help newsrooms monitor the sources they use in local news coverage. We are hosting an open demo of Source Matters, as well as a discussion of general strategies for source auditing, on Monday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. EST. Register here.

+ Learn how to build trust with your community in self-paced courses from Trusting News and Poynter (Medium, Trusting News)


Repurposing with purpose: The remarkable versatility of animation (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

Some newsrooms are becoming interested in expanding their use of animation, with an eye toward repurposing their content for fresh audiences, writes Liz Bloomfield. The Reynolds Journalism Institute is inviting newsrooms to participate in a pilot program that will test a collaborative model for creating and sharing animated content across multiple newsrooms. The animations will cover public information themes like depression, support for domestic violence, and disaster preparedness; the participating newsrooms will be able to publish the animations at no cost.

+ On Dec. 2, learn how to turn solutions journalism into funding (Twitter, @soljourno)


Increasing representation of Black Brazilians in the media (LatAm Journalism Review)

A new study has found that Black journalists make up only 20% of the staff at Brazilian news outlets; however, Black people make up 56% of Brazil’s population. The study also found that Black journalists also earn less and have fewer opportunities for career advancement than white journalists in Brazil. There have recently been efforts to increase diversity at the country’s news outlets — in 2021, Folha de S.Paulo, one of the country’s largest newspapers, and Nexo, a digital native newspaper, launched training programs for Black journalists. Folha also has a diversity editor, whose role is to expand the variety of voices and stories told by the newspaper.

+ Scottish Government mulls idea of grants to sustain diverse news media (Press Gazette); Thirty ex-Kyiv Post staff start their own title after the sudden closure of city’s oldest English-language newspaper (Press Gazette)


Twitter rolls back AMP support, no longer sends users to AMP pages (Search Engine Land)

“If you are noticing less traffic to your website’s AMP pages coming from Twitter,” writes Henry Powderly, “turns out there is a reason for that: Twitter has subtly updated its AMP guidelines page on its Developer site to say support for AMP will be phased out by the fourth quarter.” That means that Twitter will simply load the native mobile version of publishers’ websites when mobile users click on their content. Google and LinkedIn have also phased out the practice of sending users to AMP pages, which leaves many publishers asking themselves if continuing to support AMP is still worth it.


How Elizabeth Holmes soured the media on Silicon Valley (The New York Times)

The fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the blood-testing startup Theranos, has tech reporters cringing over their previously glowing coverage of the female entrepreneur. “After The Wall Street Journal published exposés in 2015 and 2016 showing that Theranos was not what it appeared to be, coverage of tech companies generally became more probing,” resulting in bombshell investigative reports on companies like Uber and Facebook, write Erin Griffith and Erin Woo. The shift reflects the media’s realization that the tech industry is “no longer the niche realm of idealist computer geeks. It had become the dominant force in the global economy and needed to be held more to account.”


Gizmodo explains its decision to make the Facebook Papers public (Gizmodo)

The Facebook Papers, a trove of leaked documents detailing what the company knows about its own negative impacts on users, have been viewed by several news outlets that reported on their findings in a collective effort. Now, Gizmodo is working with a small group of experts to make “​​as many of the documents public as possible, as quickly as possible.” But before releasing the documents, editors explain, Gizmodo and its partners are working to protect individual privacy as well as prevent “handing criminals and spies a roadmap” for spreading dangerous propaganda. “That would undermine any benefit the world stands to reap from this act of whistleblower justice,” editors write.