Need to Know: October 4, 2021

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


You might have heard: In February, an Ozy executive impersonated someone from YouTube while on a conference call with Goldman Sachs bankers (The New York Times)

But did you know: Ozy Media, once a darling of investors, shuts down in a swift unraveling (The New York Times)

On Friday, Ozy Media shut down, five days after The New York Times reported that Samir Rao, Ozy’s chief operating officer, had impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs. The conference call prompted YouTube’s owner, Google, to contact the FBI, and Goldman has received an inquiry from federal law enforcement, the Times reported. Ozy’s board also hired a law firm to investigate the company’s business practices and leadership. Together, co-founders and former Goldman employees Carlos Watson and Rao had raised $80 million for the company since it launched in 2013. 

+ Related: Sources told Axios that Ozy bought most of its social media following and inflated the attendee count for its annual Ozy Fest (Axios); Former Ozy staffers allege an abusive environment (CNN); Ozy chairman resigns (The Associated Press)

+ Noted: Pandora papers leak exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful (The Guardian); In a collective bargaining agreement with its union, NPR agreed for the first time to provide minimum pay for interns (Twitter, @wemakenpr); Alex Jones lost two Sandy Hook lawsuits (HuffPost)


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How The Atlanta Journal-Constitution explained its coverage plans for the mayoral election (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Georgia newspaper explained in this post how it will cover Atlanta’s upcoming race for mayor, with plans that include a voter’s guide, candidate profiles, background investigations on mayoral candidates and an examination of their campaign donations. The Journal-Constitution also laid out the stakes of the election, which will be the first major election under new state voting laws, and expressed its goal to keep readers informed on “who’s on the ballot, who might influence them and where they stand on the issues.”

+ How to read academic work in a rush (Slideshow created by Rutgers assistant professor Shantee Rosado); How to use animation for storytelling (Reynolds Journalism Institute)


Tips to make sure you know how to interpret data (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

For reporters new to augmenting their journalism with data, Columbian investigative and data journalist Miriam Forero Ariza explains how to avoid common mistakes while using numbers. Remember that correlation isn’t causation; or in other words, two data points on the same subject aren’t necessarily related. An example from Canadian data scientist Heather Krause: Countries with higher cigarette consumption also have higher life expectancies, but cigarette use doesn’t increase life expectancy. Ariza advises reporters to talk to experts about potential gaps in data and examine outliers for flaws and other explanations before determining if they’re newsworthy.

+ After international outcry that South Korea’s “fake news” bill would discourage reporting on those in power, lawmakers have shelved the legislation (The New York Times)


How Gen Z is handling the workplace generation divide, and how it can be bridged (Digiday)

In an Adobe survey, Gen Z respondents were less satisfied with their work-life balance and jobs overall compared to other generations. Other research shows that Gen Z is eager for mentoring, regular feedback, and strong communication. Ada, a customer experience firm in Toronto, is trying to meet Gen Z’s demands for flexibility by giving its employees unlimited paid time off and companywide PTO days. “Flexibility and autonomy are increasingly part of the values evaluation process for employees, and for our Gen Z and millennials, they continue to focus on values alignment as an important part of how they choose an employer,” said Ada Senior Vice President of Operations Chelsea MacDonald.

+ Tie executive pay to diversity metrics and other methods to reinforce diversity goals with data (The Knight Foundation)


I want to finally pay my interns. I still can’t pay them enough (Columbia Journalism Review)

Street Sense Media, a nonprofit street paper based in Washington, D.C., is using donations to offer one student intern a needs-based stipend per semester for three semesters. To start, the paper plans to provide $2,000 stipends, with the overall goal to increase diversity. Eric Falquero wrote that after joining the company, he inherited a system that relied on unpaid positions filled by interns who can afford to work for free, hampering diversity at the outlet. Out of the 150 students he has trained, Falquero says that less than 20 were Black, a racial makeup that fails to mesh with the demographics of D.C. 


Nonprofit outlets dedicated to covering local news and communities of color are on the rise, report finds (Poynter)

From 2018 to 2020, 33 nonprofit news organizations launched, with the number of local nonprofit outlets almost doubling since 2016, according to a report from the Institute for Nonprofit News. The new outlets have a slightly higher percentage of employees who are people of color than other outlets, and they are more likely to have a mission to serve communities of color. Since 2017, the number of news nonprofits focused on communities of color has doubled.