Need to Know: October 28, 2020


You might have heard: Deep newspaper job cuts prompt rare plea for federal funding to news media (The Washington Post)

But did you know: Lawmakers want to protect local newspapers from Google, Facebook (The Wall Street Journal)

Ahead of hearings with executives from the tech industry, Democrats in the Senate are looking for ways for regulators to help local news. A report released by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), called “Local Journalism: America’s Most Trusted News,” alleges that anticompetitive behavior by tech platforms is part of why local journalism has suffered so much. The report suggests various solutions, including ensuring that tech platforms pay for news in the same way that cable and satellite companies pay television networks to distribute their content. The local U.S. news industry has lost 70% of its revenue in the last two decades, while Google and Facebook control 77% of local digital ad revenue.

+ Related: How many plans to save local journalism are too many? Congress agrees that local news needs help, but not on how and when to give it (Poynter)

+ Noted: After split with Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News says it will discontinue daily print delivery, switch to weekly and monthly offerings (Deseret News); WSJ Magazine will cut down from 12 to eight editions per year (Talking Biz News); Carolyn Ryan elevated to deputy managing editor at The New York Times (The New York Times)


Preparing for election uncertainty in the days and weeks ahead

Voting is underway around the country and running reasonably well. Still, this is an unprecedented election cycle in many ways. With Data & Society, the American Press Institute’s Trusted Elections Network is hosting a final pre-election conversation to discuss scenarios we may see on or after Election Day and ways to plan and report responsibly. The conversation will tackle misinformation, election litigation, action from public officials, and how journalists can prepare now. The conversation starts at 2 p.m. CT today, Wednesday, October 28.


How the Tampa Bay Times is bringing fans together when they can’t be together (Poynter)

With a slew of success stories around Tampa Bay’s sports teams, the Tampa Bay Times’s engagement team has been focused on engaging with fans. On Instagram, the paper encouraged supporters to send in selfies in baseball gear to support the Tampa Bay Rays in their World Series run. When the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing the Dallas Stars for the Stanley Cup, the Times teamed up with the Dallas Morning News for collaborative coverage, and some friendly rivalry on Twitter. The goal was to mimic the energy that sports fans normally get watching a game in person or with friends, and several participants in the Instagram challenge said it inspired them to subscribe to the paper.


The newspaper that gave Black Britain a megaphone (CNN)

In 1981, Jamaican-born Val McCalla was living in London when violent clashes between police and protestors broke out in the African-Caribbean community of Brixton. McCalla, who was working for a local paper, saw how the mainstream media covered the clashes primarily through the eyes of the police, overlooking the racism and oppressive policing that had fueled the protests. The following year, he launched The Voice, a paper that aimed to be a voice for Black British people, as opposed to older papers targeting Caribbean immigrants. After decades as the preeminent voice in the Black British community, the publication has scaled back in recent years, switching from a weekly to a monthly publication schedule.


Pre-bunking on social media platforms rises ahead of the 2020 election (Axios)

With Election Day nearing, social media platforms are doing more than just debunking false claims; they are pre-emptively showing users accurate information before they have the chance to see anything incorrect. Twitter will begin pinning notices on all American users’ feeds with warnings about misinformation on mail-in voting, while Facebook and Snapchat have invested heavily in voter information campaigns. The move is a response to studies that have shown that fact-checking can backfire, as when Facebook’s “disputed” flag on a post made users more likely to click on the link.

+ Related: Wikipedia’s plan to resist Election Day misinformation (Wired)


Newsrooms: Prepare for the election to go off the rails (Medium, We Are Hearken)

Next week’s election, writes Jennifer Brandel, founder of Hearken, is likely to go “utterly off the rails” and journalists need to be prepared. She describes “off the rails” as everything from disputed races and widespread misinformation to street violence and election hacking. Brandel writes that newsrooms aren’t aware enough of the possibility of chaos on election night, and that it’s irresponsible for newsrooms to proceed under the assumption that the election will be resolved in one day. Election Day itself, she writes, is a day of “extreme imbalance,” due to a high demand for news and a low supply of information. It’s important for newsrooms to remain calm, rather than ratchet up drama.

+ Related: Election SOS’s Scenario Planning Guide (Election SOS)


Journalists and artists in Charlotte have teamed up to tell COVID-19 stories as graphic novels (WebToon)

The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative and BOOM Charlotte, an arts festival, have teamed up to produce a graphic novel about the effects of the coronavirus in the North Carolina city. The novel, called “The Pandem!c: Stories of COVID-19,” will be divided into eight chapters, and will tell the stories of people in the region who have been affected by the pandemic, including contract tracers and victims of the disease. In the introduction chapter released over the weekend, the novel looks back at the days in March when COVID-19 first came to North Carolina, and the wave of shutdowns that followed. A printed version of the graphic novel is planned for next year.