Need to Know: Oct. 23, 2019

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


You might have heard: How Free Press convinced New Jersey to allocate $2 million for rehabilitating local news (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: New York may try to pass a law to save local news (New York Times)

In November, Verizon shut down Fios1 News, a news network focused on New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island, as well as New Jersey. The loss spurred New York state lawmakers to introduce legislation that would require cable companies that operate in New York to also offer an independently produced local news channel. Co-sponsors of the bill are also considering the requirement to apply to streaming services, as well. Some critics have likened the concept to a tax, suggesting that if the bill passes, it could prompt cable companies to pass local news production costs onto consumers. This bill follows other efforts in northeast states to help local news, including a $2 million plan in New Jersey that will make the state the first to use allocate funds to support local journalism. 

+ Noted: NBC News chief signed new deal as Weinstein, Lauer allegations brewed (Wall Street Journal); Meredith sells personal-finance site Money to digital advertising firm (Variety); Medium says it will compensate writers based on reading time, not claps (TechCrunch); As local news outlets shutter, rural America suffers most (Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline)


Trust Tip: Invest in getting buy-in from your newsroom (Trusting News)

Newsroom strategies work best when everyone is on board. That applies to taking steps to earn your community’s trust, and in this week’s Trust Tip, Lynn Walsh has a few ideas to earn support in this arena from your colleagues. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


Why the San Francisco Chronicle gave users the option to ‘support free map access’ with LaterPay during the power outage (Nieman Lab)

A few weeks ago, California utility PG&E shut off power to thousands of people in the name of wildfire prevention. The utility’s shutoff map kept crashing, and multiple local news organizations stepped in with their own versions, some of which remained sequestered behind paywalls. San Jose’s Mercury News made a paywall exception for its map, and The San Francisco Chronicle had its own game plan — to use the map as an opportunity to gain digital subscribers and revenue. For some Chronicle site users, the map also nudged them to subscribe, while others were given the option to “support free map access” by making a payment through LaterPay.

+ This excerpt from First Draft’s guide to information disorder breaks down seven types of misinformation and disinformation.


Here’s how to turn students into sleuths in 15 weeks (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

Writing an investigative series for Chilean news nonprofit Centro de Investigación Periodística caused Paulette Desormeaux to realize that anyone can learn how to do investigative reporting with a little guidance. She now teaches a 15-week journalism course that has led to work that exposed wrongdoing and spurred changes to public health law. Students learn a range of muckraking skills while completing an assignment to produce an investigative story focused on topics from public policy to organized crime. Desormeaux has found her students up to the challenge, saying, “We as professors need to trust in what they’re able to do.”

+ Financial Times consultancy offers access to minds behind its paywall success (The Drum)


Facebook will label false posts more clearly as part of an effort to prevent 2020 election interference (The Verge)

Just a few weeks after announcing changes that will allow political ads to contain falsehoods, Facebook has unveiled policy changes geared to limit misinformation on the platform. The social media giant plans to improve its labeling of false photos and videos on both Facebook and Instagram, which will include links to fact checks. Facebook pages will become more transparent, with pages to include information on the organizations that run them and publishers required to disclose if they are state-run media, such as Russia Today. Facebook also plans to spend $2 million on media literacy projects.

+ Related: Twitter wants its users’ help in developing its policies on deepfakes (Adweek)


It’s not just Ronan Farrow: NBC News killed my rape-allegation story too (The Daily Beast)

Writer and activist Sil Lai Abrams writes that Ronan Farrow’s experience of NBC News blocking his Harvey Weinstein reporting was not an isolated incident, as the network also killed another story dealing with sexual misconduct. According to Abrams, she told MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid during a taped interview in 2018 that music mogul Russell Simmons raped her and that former “Extra” co-host A.J. Calloway had sexually assaulted her, but NBC opted not to run Reid’s interview with Abrams. A print version of the story was also originally slated to run in New York magazine, which said that the piece didn’t run because Reid withdrew it.

+ Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer criticized headlines addressing President Donald Trump’s comparison of the impeachment inquiry to a lynching, calling them “uncritical repetition (of) a ludicrous inversion of history.” (@Adam Serwer, Twitter)


How David Fahrenthold gets ahead of Trump stories (Columbia Journalism Review)

For Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, reporting on the Trump Organization is about “(finding) as many ways over the wall as we can, to figure out what’s going on inside.” He has two daily reporting goals — to file three public records requests and attempt to make 10 new contacts. Hitting dead ends forces him to think creatively to find other ways into the story. Spreadsheets and meticulous notes also don’t hurt. “Whatever I learned today, I’ve codified it and written it down and made it easier to find again,” Fahrenthold said. “Today’s story helps me tomorrow.”

+ NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill memorialized with USPS Forever stamp (PBS NewsHour)