Need to Know: November 8, 2021

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism 


You might have heard: After one of the few remaining labor reporters took a buyout from The New York Times in 2014, media critics worried the labor beat was dead (Columbia Journalism Review)

But did you know: Why the media loves labor now (The New York Times)

For a while during the 2000s, The New York Times employed the only full-time daily labor reporter in the United States. But in the current moment of flux in politics, the economy, and the workplace, “labor has become a hot news beat,” Ben Smith writes, with at least a dozen reporters now covering the topic at publications including Vice and HuffPost. Some major publications have recently expanded their labor coverage, while niche publications like Labor Notes, Strikewave, and Payday Report have drawn attention. The journalism industry’s labor movement also may have made reporters more aware of labor issues.

+ Noted: Voting technology firm Smartmatic sues Newsmax and One America News, alleging defamation (The Washington Post)


Best practices for journalists covering crises on Twitter

A study examining how journalists cover crises on Twitter found that audiences value objective, “instructing” information during a crisis, and are most likely to retweet that information — possibly out of a desire to help. It also offers three priorities for journalists who are using Twitter as a reporting tool during a crisis. This article is part of API’s Research Review series, which highlights academic research that could be relevant and useful to the news industry.


McClatchy tries out ads in audio versions of articles (Digiday)

This fall, McClatchy started running automatically generated audio versions through a widget on most of the stories produced by its publications. In October, the company began placing ad spots on the audio stories, with advertisers targeting readers of certain news sections, like arts and entertainment. The Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald, and five other McClatchy papers also release daily flash briefings by podcast and smart speakers. 

+ How Harvard Business Review’s Ascend connects with Gen Z through video (Digital Content Next)


How membership saved this Chilean investigative news nonprofit (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

In 2018, Centro De Investigación Periodística (CIPER) lost 90% of its funding after its main donor of 11 years stopped financially supporting the nonprofit. The change prompted CIPER to create a membership program that has grown to 4,800 members in two years, enabling the nonprofit to hire four journalists to offset staff losses after its financial upheaval. CIPER Community Editor Claudia Urquieta recommends newsrooms launching membership programs make their members feel like part of the newsroom through branding, the tone used in communicating with them, and by quickly responding to their questions or technical issues.

+ Cross-border reporting collaborations can help journalists investigate international crimes (Global Investigative Journalism Network); Soaring newsprint costs make life even harder for European newspapers (The Economist)


How ProPublica used genomic sequencing data to track a salmonella outbreak (ProPublica)

In a recent ProPublica investigation into salmonella and issues with the U.S. food safety system, the news outlet used publicly available genomic sequencing data for the first time. ProPublica journalists examined a National Institutes of Health database and found an identifier code for salmonella samples linked to a 2019 investigation that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had closed without finding the source. The team was eventually able to compare bacteria samples from the U.S. Department of Agriculture tests to outbreak samples, showing that the agency continues to find drug-resistant salmonella in chickens.


Why NBC10 Boston TV anchor Latoyia Edwards wears braids on the morning news (Boston Globe)

During her career in broadcast journalism, Edwards has received subtle and direct messaging that she and other Black anchors should wear straight, chemically-processed hair on camera, which requires repeated, expensive visits to a stylist. For years, Edwards had straightened her hair, “an arduous process I believed was an unwritten necessity for Black, female news anchors,” she writes. This year, Edwards decided to braid her hair instead so she could “represent communities of color in New England in (her) full form.” Instead of backlash, she says her viewers’ main question has been: “Why didn’t you do this sooner?”

+ Earlier: Black newscasters are redefining what it means to “look professional” on-air (Allure)


A 148-year-old newspaper is the latest recruit to UGA’s journalism school (Poynter)

The publisher of the weekly newspaper The Oglethorpe Echo planned to shut the paper down after his retirement. Instead, he and his family donated the paper to a nonprofit created to allow the University of Georgia’s journalism school to take over the paper and offer students critical hands-on experience. With guidance from faculty, 20 journalism students will provide reporting, photography and design work for the paper each semester during a capstone class, while paid interns will staff the paper during the summer and holidays. The paper will be supported by circulation, advertising and donations.