Need to Know: November 5, 2021


The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is back in the budget bill. After being dropped from the House’s version of the bill last week, it was added back as of Thursday. The plan would offer federal tax credits to help pay up to half of the salaries of local journalists earning up to $50,000 for one year and 30% for four more years. The bill now includes local broadcasters, puts limits on how much one corporation can receive and strengthens rules to screen out political advocacy groups. (Poynter)


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

More journalists are venturing beyond their newsrooms to try to cash in. As newsletters have taken off, more journalists are leaving traditional newsroom jobs to start their own projects. At the same time, news organizations are investing more in products like newsletters and podcasts, and in the case of The Atlantic, bringing successful newsletter scribes under its wing. (Wall Street Journal, Axios) 

How the Daily Herald tries to define objectivity. Chicago’s Daily Herald put together an “objectivity council” to discuss what objectivity means with its readers. The paper’s deputy managing editor wrote that the goal is not to give equal weight to all arguments, but to evaluate their own biases and ensure that they do not impact reporting. (Daily Herald) 

Lessons from The Fresno Bee on funding journalism. Joe Kieta, executive editor of The Fresno Bee, says the publication’s success in philanthropic fundraising is due to its decision to use the funds specifically to support education coverage. The Bee also focuses heavily on solutions journalism, which appeals to impact-driven funders. (Local Media Association)


These news orgs are building beats from reader donations

Local news organizations are getting increasingly comfortable with — and adept at — asking their audiences to make a donation to support their journalism. Some have had success asking audiences to support a specific beat or coverage area, including opinion, investigative journalism, religion reporting and solutions journalism. We’ve rounded up several examples here, so that others may copy their efforts.


+ A year after the election, America has turned the news off (Columbia Journalism Review) 

+ High school journalists in Chicago are pushing back against a law they say has “hindered” their ability to publish news (Block Club Chicago) 

+ Recognizing microaggressions: Confronting lack of diversity in newsrooms across the nation begins with acknowledging what happens behind the scenes (Editor & Publisher)