Need to Know: October 9, 2020


You might have heard: The coronavirus could change American sportswriting forever (The Ringer)

But did you know: Local Media Consortium and Google set to launch beta site of The Matchup (Editor & Publisher)  

In the midst of a very unusual sports season, the Local Media Consortium Board and the Google News Initiative have teamed up to create The Matchup, which will begin life as a peer-to-peer service that shares sports content between participating publishers. A beta site will launch for the NFL season in four to six cities, and the plan is to launch a national site next year with original content, which will potentially act as a competitor to or The Athletic. However, the goal is to drive subscriptions for local news outlets and help them build audience relationships, rather than make money for this specific enterprise.

+ Noted: ProPublica to launch new regional units in the South and Southwest; ProPublica Illinois to expand to midwest regional newsroom (ProPublica); New York Times debuts new ad program to help brands address sensitive topics (Axios); Jim Dwyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, dies at 63 (The New York Times); Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press releases legal guide for journalists covering the election (Reporters Committee)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Hoaxers turn to the same tactics all over again, Facebook bans QAnon, and vaccine falsehoods spread. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


Center for Cooperative Media releases guides on media collaborations, including budgeting and selecting partners (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)

Collaboration between news outlets is on the rise, especially when it comes to covering the coronavirus. Now, the Center for Cooperative Media has released three guides that aim to improve collaborations and answer common questions about these partnerships. The first guide, about budget and finances, dives into ways to fund ongoing, labor-intensive projects. The second covers building new collaborations, including finding, evaluating, and committing to new partners. The third looks at working with non-news partners, with a focus on working with stakeholders to make news coverage more equitable and inclusive.

+ ElectionSOS releases media handbook on how to over electoral conflict and will host a free virtual panel on Oct. 13 with international journalists who have done it before (Twitter, @JenniferBrandel)


In El Salvador, El Faro is a beacon of truth under threat (Columbia Journalism Review)

For more than 20 years, El Faro — which means “The Lighthouse” — has been covering El Salvador’s political class. The digital news organization has investigated corruption, gang violence and human rights abuses, with funding from ads, donations, events, and international grants. Now the site has turned its attention to President Nayib Bukele, a popular leftist politician who promised to “turn the page on the post-war era” that has racked the country since its civil war in the 1980s. El Faro has reported on corruption, poor handling of COVID-19, authoritarian tendencies and secret gang pacts within Bukele’s administration, and in turn Bukele has used social media and government investigations to threaten the site.

+ “La Costeñísima will continue to stand”: Nicaraguan radio journalists persist in the face of threats, intimidation and lawsuits (LatAm Journalism Review)


Mapping the social media space in order to explore civically-minded alternatives (Medium, Ethan Zuckerman)

Much debate about social media focuses on the ways that Facebook and Twitter distort reality and enable the spread of disinformation. But Ethan Zuckerman and Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University are exploring whether a different type of social media could actually improve civic dialogue. They’re looking for social media outlets that operate differently from the most famous platforms, either in their technology, business structure, ideology, rules and functionality. They’ve put a call out for these lesser-known social media outlets to help map the social media space and develop case studies that expand the idea of what social media can be.


How Fox News molds reality into a serialized TV drama (Vox)

Watching Fox News can feel like existing in a different reality, says TV critic Emily VanDerWerff, and it’s not just that the channel has a political bent. Instead, she writes, the network has created dramatic storylines that mimic the clean narrative arcs of serialized dramas more than the jumbled, sometimes contradictory world of current affairs. This mode of storytelling originated with former host Glenn Beck, who would tie seemingly disparate stories into what seemed like a grand conspiracy against “normal Americans,” VanDerWerff says, creating a world of menace that can only be understood by watching more Fox News.


Why local journalism needs a funding pipeline (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

The last few years have seen companies and foundations pledge nearly a billion dollars to help support local journalism initiatives, but local news is still not thriving. Yvonne Leow writes that the problem may be that local journalism, unlike tech startups, doesn’t have an established funding pipeline. So, even if a project thrives after a small grant, there’s no system for how to continue growing. Most start-up grants range from $5,000 to $150,000; by contrast, Henry Jarvis Raymond started The New York Times in 1851 for the equivalent of $2.3 million today. For journalism start-ups to have a real chance, they don’t need one-off grants, but sustained involvement from funders and supporters.


+ “Not all doom and crisis and hysteria”: The Week Junior Editor-in-Chief Anna Bassi on why a print magazine for kids is growing strongly (Media Voices)

+ Remote learning isn’t new: Radio instruction in the 1937 polio epidemic (The Conversation)

+ “A lot of listening”: A Q&A with Condé Nast’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, Yashica Olden (Digiday)

+ Why The New York Times reinvented its front page to cover COVID-19 (Fast Company)