Need to Know: October 11, 2021

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


You might have heard: Reporters Without Borders ranks the Philippines and Russia 138th and 150th respectively for press freedom (Reporters Without Borders)

But did you know: Nobel Peace Prize goes to journalists who have faced government pushback (CNN)

Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler in the Philippines, and Dmitry Muratov, head of Novaya Gazeta in Russia, received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in journalism, which has made them a frequent subject of legal and physical threats. Ressa has been arrested and received criminal charges in response to her publication’s reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte, while Muratov has experienced a similar crackdown on journalistic freedom at his paper, where six staffers have been killed since 1993.

+ Noted: Canadian admits fabricating the terrorism story detailed in The New York Times’ discredited “Caliphate” podcast series (The New York Times); Former staffers allege CEO and founder of The Wrap created a toxic work environment (The Daily Beast); The Objective has resumed publishing and plans to pay contributors (The Objective)


A new way of looking at trust in media: Do Americans share journalism’s core values?

Many Americans are skeptical of what journalists consider their core mission, and the argument over media trust often has the feel of people talking past each other. But we found that the trust crisis may be better understood through people’s moral values than their politics. A study by API and AP-NORC explores how people’s moral values relate to their perception of core journalism values, as well as news stories. And it points to simple changes journalists can make to their reporting that could help increase trust with journalism skeptics and supporters alike.


A newspaper asks for donations in honor of its reporters (The Washington Post)

The Tampa Bay Times raised about $27,500 during a recent fundraising campaign that gave readers the opportunity to donate in honor of their favorite journalist at the paper. The campaign showcased the paper’s reporting during the pandemic, and almost all of the donations came from individuals, especially family and friends of the journalists. Inspired by a similar fundraising project at The 19th, the campaign is part of a trend of for-profit journalism outlets supplementing revenue with philanthropy.

+ Earlier: How The Day partnered with a nonprofit to raise nearly $90,000 in community donations to support pandemic coverage (Better News)


How can newsrooms better engage with their audiences? (European Journalism Centre)

Richard Addy, the founder of London-based audience strategy consultancy AKAS, says that newsrooms aren’t doing enough to share the impact of their work with their audiences. Telling that story starts with tracking impact, which newsrooms can do with spreadsheets or tools like the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Impact Tracker. Newsrooms tracking their impact can make use of the data they have to examine short-term reach, revenue or subscriber changes and developments like policy changes resulting from their coverage. Newsrooms can also monitor more abstract areas of impact, like whether or not their team has learned something about reaching new audiences.

+ Earlier: How the Detroit Free Press uses an annual impact report to show readers — and funders — how its journalism drives change (Better News)


When Facebook went down last week, traffic to news sites went up (Nieman Lab)

Data from Chartbeat shows that during Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp’s five-hour outage last week, traffic increased at news sites, with a 38% bump over the previous week during the middle of the outage. Traffic from Twitter also rose 72%, the data shows. Direct traffic and pageviews from search rose, while traffic from social media dropped overall during the outage. “Dark social” traffic, or link shares that lack analytics data on where they were shared, stayed about the same.


Why food media outlets have updated their archives to address cultural biases (Columbia Journalism Review)

Last year, Epicurious announced it would change recipes in its archives that were written “through a white American lens,” with plans to remove racist terms and more accurately represent a dish’s cuisine and the culture it comes from. Bon Appétit said it would audit its recipe and article archive, and The New York Times retroactively credited recipe authors who didn’t originally receive bylines. Navneet Alang writes that journalists and historians may be troubled by the idea of making changes to an archive, adding that “even traditional archives aren’t passive receptacles; they are collections shaped by culture and power. Nor are archivists merely record-keepers; their work also involves uncovering what was hidden, obscured, or suppressed.”


How freelancers are tackling big stories (Poynter)

Some freelance reporters are pursuing ambitious longform and investigative projects that can take months or longer to complete. When Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote a feature about sexual abuse in the military for The New York Times Magazine, the project took two and a half years, a timeframe that allowed her to continue teaching at New York University, write a book and report other assignments. Some freelancers apply for grants to boost their rates and cover reporting expenses, and to continue earning while working on long-term stories, freelancers often strike a balance of working on lengthier projects and shorter assignments.