Need to Know: November 9, 2020

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


You might have heard: Fox News was the last TV network to project Biden’s win in last week’s presidential election (The New York Times)

But did you know: With Trump’s loss, Murdoch’s Fox News faces wrath from the president and tough choices (NPR)

Last Tuesday, Fox News was the first major news outlet to call Arizona for Biden, and by Friday, anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace had pointed out that a win in Pennsylvania or another state would make the Democrat president-elect. That’s in contrast to Fox’s opinion shows, which spent days echoing the president’s unfounded voter fraud allegations. Hosts like Sean Hannity have played advisor roles to Trump, and they’ve also coordinated their coverage with the Republican party’s messaging. According to a memo reviewed by NPR, before Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel appeared on a Hannity episode alleging voter fraud, a GOP memo outlined the contents of the show’s opening segment.

+ Related: Fox News issued memos instructing anchors to not refer to Biden as “president-elect,” but several used the term (CNN); Murdoch-owned outlets urged Trump to accept defeat with “grace and composure” (The Guardian)

+ Noted: Colorado Community Media bought multiple Denver-area papers (The Colorado Independent); Guns and America ends its collaborative project (Twitter, @GunsReporting); Quartz co-founder to buy the site from Japanese media company Uzabase (The Wall Street Journal); Bloomberg launches streaming news channel (The Wall Street Journal)


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Text-to-speech articles create audio opportunity (Digital Content Next)

According to NPR and Edison Research, 75% of Americans listen to spoken-word audio every month, and 43% listen every day. This growing market has led to plans from publishers like The Washington Post to experiment with converting articles into audio formats. Earlier this year, The New York Times acquired an app called Audm, which produces audio versions of stories using voice actors. Listeners are more likely to finish listening to articles, while readers spent an average of two and a half minutes on text-based stories that received the most engaged time last year, according to Chartbeat.


New virtual work experience program connects students with freelance journalists (

When Freelancing for Journalists co-founder Lily Canter wanted to hire a summer intern for research help, she received 70 applications in a day. That interest led to the idea for a program that gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to assist freelancers and receive feedback to improve their skills. Interns can do research or other virtual work that involves multimedia journalism through the program, which has emerged as traditional newsroom internships have been hard to come by due to the pandemic.


Trump will lose his Twitter ‘public interest’ protections in January (The Verge)

On the social media platform, world leaders and other officials are allowed to post content that would otherwise break Twitter’s policies. However, the tech company has sometimes labeled tweets from Trump that contained misinformation or gloried violence, and Twitter has limited how far they can spread on the network. After he leaves office, Trump’s Twitter account will be subject to bans that apply to inciting violence and pushing inaccurate information about COVID-19. 

+ Related: Last week, Twitter permanently banned former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon for glorifying violence (CNN)


The forecasts didn’t help us (On the Media)

University of North Carolina associate professor Zeynep Tufekci argues that forecasting models that rely on polling can falsely predict landslides, giving voters a false sense of certainty about what will happen. Polls also suffer from abysmal response rates — 3 to 6% — making them unreliable, which becomes especially problematic when people view them as scientific predictions similar to weather forecasting. Tufekci points out that polls are incorporated into election coverage, and research suggests that modeling actually impacts the actions of voters.


A ‘bridge between editorial, business and tech’ (News Product Alliance)

In September, the News Product Alliance launched in support of those who work in news product management, which aims to connect audience development, technology and revenue. In the group’s recent community survey, two-thirds of those who responded said that their positions didn’t exist five years ago, and about 90% said they’d held their position less than five years. Although some respondents came from journalism, others had backgrounds in data science or technology.