Need to Know: Oct. 18, 2019

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Two new books detail the investigations into Harvey Weinstein and the reporting that sparked #MeToo (NPR)

But did you know: ‘Catch and Kill’ and ‘She Said’ provide a side-by-side comparison of how NBC News and The New York Times dealt with adversity in reporting the Weinstein story (Washington Post) 

After learning that his tactics had successfully stymied an NBC News investigation into sexual assault allegations against him, Weinstein reportedly exclaimed, “If I can get a network to kill a story, how hard can a newspaper be?” But the producer was ultimately unsuccessful in killing the Times’ reporting, and now, two books from the journalists who led the investigations reveal the deliberations that went on inside both news organizations as the facts came to light. “History provides few laboratories quite like the Weinstein story, a drama in which two prominent news organizations were working on the same hard-to-crack investigation at the same time,” writes Erik Wemple. “To judge from the two books and additional information, the reporters at the New York Times faced an exhausting fight against a resourceful Hollywood figure. The reporters at NBC News faced an exhausting fight against a resourceful Hollywood figure and against skittish bosses. Not a fair fight.”

+ Noted: The Miami Herald is partnering with the Miami Foundation to launch an investigative journalism fund that will nearly double the size of its investigative team (Miami Herald); U.S. Postal Service announces new rates that could impact publishers (News Media Alliance); New report finds that more than two-thirds of journalists and newsrooms secure their communications while less than 50% did so two years ago (ICFJ); The Guardian launches subscriber-only, ad-free daily app (Digiday)

API UPDATE

In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of Factually: newsrooms are gearing up to cover 2020 misinformation; how Spanish fact-checkers covered an explosion of fake news related to the Catalan sentencings; and why people older than 65 are six to seven times more likely to share false news than younger people.  

TRY THIS AT HOME

Don’t self-promote, and don’t tease news stories: using Reddit for local journalism (Cronkite News Lab)

Reddit can be a fruitful source for story leads. But finding them is not the work of an afternoon, says Jeremy Jojola, an investigative reporter for 9NEWS in Denver. “[Journalists] can’t just … swoop in and take content … because over time your reputation online will diminish. If journalists are going to be using Reddit, they have to be a genuine part of the community.” Jojola is an active user on the Denver subreddit, and when he’s not gathering story ideas, he’s participating and sharing stories he thinks those users will appreciate. His reputation as a user and a journalist has been noticed by the community, and he now gets tagged in posts that he sometimes turns into stories. But he often sees other journalists posting on Reddit “with the clear intention of just getting traffic to their articles” — a big no-no. “The users in that subreddit see right through that, and those users won’t really upvote the posts, or they’ll really slam on it,” he said.

+ Earlier: The Washington Post on Reddit surprises users with its non-promotional, ultra helpful presence (Nieman Lab)

+ 10 startups helping simplify the world of media (What’s New in Publishing) 

OFFSHORE

How Efecto Cocuyo is doing audience-centered reporting on Venezuelan migration (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)

Venezuelan news outlet Efecto Cocuyo is attempting to get closer to the massive story of the Venezuelan exodus — which this summer topped 4 million people — by collaborating with other Latin American news organizations to host an event series called “Guayoyos con Migrantes.” Guayoyo is a Venezuelan term for the coffee taken mid-morning or afternoon to make space for conversation, and it’s that informal social setting that Efecto Cocuyo and its partners are hoping to recreate for displaced Venezuelans. The conversations have become valuable opportunities for migrants to exchange information relative to their situations, and for journalists to understand the issues they’re facing on the ground. 

+ India had its first “WhatsApp election.” We have a million messages from it. (Columbia Journalism Review)

OFFBEAT

How funders can support diversity, equity, and inclusion in journalism (Democracy Fund) 

A new report from Democracy Fund and Dot Connector Studios found that organizations that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in journalism — whether they’re news outlets that serve diverse populations or organizations that support those outlets — receive a very small slice of journalism funding. Of the $1.1 billion that went into journalism in the U.S. from 2013-2017, only 8.1% went to DEI-focused efforts. There are a couple tools that can help funders give higher priority to DEI-focused organizations, writes Lea Trusty: the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, a collaborative supporting news outlets and projects that serve communities of color, and Democracy Fund’s Journalism DEI Tracker, which helps funders identify prospective grantees. 

UP FOR DEBATE

Don’t let ABC’s mistake fuel distrust of the media (Poynter)

After issuing the requisite apology, ABC has remained quiet over its slip-up earlier this week when it aired footage of what it claimed was Turkey bombing Kurdish civilians, which actually turned out to be video taken at a Kentucky shooting range. The network’s silence gives critics an open field to stake their claim that it wasn’t a mistake at all, but an intentional use of false footage to advance an ideological agenda, writes Peter Adams. “Exactly how this breach of standards happened at ABC won’t be known until the network comes clean and credibly explains what happened.” 

+ Defiant Zuckerberg says Facebook won’t police political speech (New York Times); Will the 2020 U.S presidential election be all about fake political online ads? (Poynter)

SHAREABLE

So you thought the ‘Ellen question’ at the debate was dumb. Well! (Washington Post)

The question, which referenced talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres’s decision to hang out with George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game, was meant to encourage Democratic candidates to show how open they are to people whose perspectives and backgrounds are different from their own. It’s been criticized as a softball question that stole the last opportunity to quiz the candidates on climate change or other pressing issues. But it was in line with the tradition of ending a news broadcast with a bit of fluff, writes Erik Wemple — a tradition that many are now becoming impatient with. “I think people say, ‘No, when they’re on the stage to debate, let’s have them debate,’” said Mark Lukasiewicz, a former NBC VP. 

FOR THE WEEKEND

+ The Engaged Journalism Playbook (and an 8-step guide and free template for creating great surveys!) (Engaged Journalism Accelerator) 

+ The Washington Post’s inspired new TV app is about reading, not watching (Fast Company)

+ In the same year that the Charleston Gazette-Mail declared bankruptcy, went up for auction, got new local owners and went through layoffs, it more than doubled digital subscriptions (and that’s not mentioning the Pulitzer Prize it won the year before). How they did it: tightening their paywall; saying “no” to mediocre story ideas; showing their value to the community; investing in a new podcast; and forming resource-saving partnerships with ProPublica and Report For America. (Poynter)