Need to Know: Oct. 2, 2019

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


You might have heard: Why do some people avoid news? (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Reading political news in the age of Trump leaves people stressed, angry, and overwhelmed (Nieman Lab)

New interview-based research from María Celeste Wagner, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, found that stories about the first 10 months of the Trump administration left news consumers with “a high level of emotionality when recalling these experiences.” During 71 interviews during 2017, Wagner also found that emotions ran even higher on social media and for news consumers who connected to the stories personally. Because news consumers found the stories so stressful, some decided to check out in favor of self-preservation, as Joshua Benton brings up in his analysis of the research. He cites previous studies that found women are more likely to avoid news, and liberals are more likely than conservatives to bring up the impact that news has on their moods as a reason for news avoidance.

+ Noted: Newseum to close at the end of the year (Newseum); Bustle readies launch of tech news site Input (Digiday); Devin Nunes sues Esquire over story about family’s Iowa farm (Fresno Bee); Staff of Vancouver, Wash., newspaper The Columbian unionizes (Portland Mercury); Waycross Journal-Herald in Georgia ceases publication (The Brunswick News); Maine’s Journal Tribune to end 135-year run on Oct. 12 (Journal Tribune); University of Maryland student newspaper will publish online only after 110 years in print (WUSA 9)


Trust Tip: Make your contact information truly accessible (Trusting News)

Finding a journalist’s email address online shouldn’t be hard. Joy Mayer writes this week about how to make your newsroom accessible through easy-to-find contact information pages. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


Sourcing Diversity: WHYY and the rocky road to ‘cultural competency’ (Columbia Journalism Review)

Last year, Philadelphia was 34 percent white, but the newsroom staff for public media outlet WHYY was 80 percent white. A new study examines the radio station’s efforts to make its sourcing, audience and staff better reflect the community it serves. After auditing local sources used for its stories, WHYY found that 80 percent were white, a number that fell to 65 percent during its initiative. Andrea Wenzel notes that increasing the quantity of sources of color still leaves some issues unaddressed, writing that “journalists of color said they felt that narratives were often being crafted about communities of color but not for them.”

+ What Generation Z’s relationship to institutions means for newsrooms and TikTok (@Adriana_Lacy, Twitter) 


Singapore ‘fake news’ law set to come into force on Wednesday (Reuters)

If the Singapore government deems information to be false, online media platforms will be required to remove or correct it starting Wednesday, when a new anti-”fake news” law goes into effect. Media platforms that violate the law could face hefty fines, while individuals who the government believes have maliciously spread false information could face up to 10 years in jail. The People’s Action Party, the dominant political party in Singapore, has rejected criticism that the law could impact free speech or become a political weapon.

+ Meghan Markle sues Mail on Sunday over publication of her private letter (BBC)


FCC cannot ban states from passing net neutrality laws, appeals court rules (Gizmodo)

Last year, 22 states and consumer advocacy groups, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Mozilla, sued the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to repeal net-neutrality protections that barred broadband providers from blocking or slowing online traffic. Yesterday, a federal appeals court upheld FCC’s repeal, but ruled the commission can’t prevent states from enforcing net neutrality. California passed its own net-neutrality law last year, leading the Department of Justice to challenge the law in court.


Vanguards and rearguards in the fight for the future of journalism (

For Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, there are two types of journalists: vanguards and rearguards. Vanguards are working to prepare journalism for the future, while rearguards dismiss trends and appear unwilling to adapt to the new media environment. With that in mind, Nielsen cites Reuters Institute research that shows trust in news has dropped, and a third of people surveyed this year say they actively avoid news. Journalism can’t exist without connecting to its audience, and Nielsen writes, “That connection is in many cases hanging by a thread, and it is on us to retain, renew, and reinforce it. The vanguard understands this. The rearguard refuses to accept it.”

+ Yes, we can reach gender parity in photojournalism (Nieman Reports)


From paper routes to free food: Local news evolves to stay afloat (The Christian Science Monitor)

One in five newspapers across the country closed during the last 14 years, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s report on news deserts. This loss has led to increased partisanship, government corruption and lower voting rates, but some journalists and entrepreneurs are stepping up to address the situation. For instance, six years ago, businessman Carl Fernyak started the Richland Source, a news site based in Mansfield, Ohio, that offers an alternative to the local paper and connects with its community through newsroom concerts, trivia events, and movie nights with the staff. Near San Francisco, local investors formed a “community benefit corporation” connected to the Half Moon Bay Review, with profits directed to the public good.

+ From ‘Hustlers’ to ‘Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ journalists become fall film stars (Los Angeles Times)