Need to Know: September 1, 2020


You might have heard: In 2018, 71% of U.S. adults thought that their local news media were doing well financially (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Most Americans says news outlets don’t talk about where their funding comes from (Pew Research Center)

In a wide-ranging study on Americans’ attitudes toward the news media, 72% of Americans said that news organizations don’t do a good job at telling their audiences where their money comes from. Another 80% say that corporate and financial interests influence the news in some way, with 38% saying that these interests influence the news “a great deal.” Most Americans also say news outlets are opaque about conflicts of interest, how sources are chosen, and whether a story is factual or opinion. When it comes to errors, 69% of Amerians say that news outlets try to cover up their mistakes, but 51% say they feel more confident in a news organization when it issues an official correction to a story.

+ Related: How to talk about your ownership and share your ethics and corrections policies — plus, here’s language that can be copied or adapted for both (Trusting News)

+ Noted: Journalist quits Kenosha paper in protest of Its Jacob Blake rally coverage (The New York Times)


In four weeks, learn high-impact tactics to combat misinformation and polarization through your reporting

As we approach the 2020 presidential election amid a public health crisis and ongoing civil unrest, reporters must be able to navigate a media landscape filled with misinformation and polarization. We’ve created a four-part email series that highlights four key skills for doing so. In four short emails sent over the course of a month, you’ll learn high-impact tactics, including how to avoid amplifying lies and misleading claims in your reporting, handle quotes that haven’t been verified, thwart attempts at media manipulation, and make stories less polarizing. Sign up here.

+ Earlier: Our email series is based on our report “Getting it Right: Strategies for truth-telling in a time of misinformation and polarization 


Help readers navigate their own challenges around voting (The New York Times)

Across the country, voting guides are becoming a popular feature of local news publications, guiding readers through the ins and outs of voting by mail or in person in a particular location. The New York Times, which has a substantial audience overseas, put together a guide for how the 2.9 million eligible American voters living abroad can cast their ballot in November. The guide advises American voters abroad to register and request a ballot as early as possible, and do as much online as they can to speed up the process. The guide includes links to specific forms to fill out, as well as separate advice for service members.

+ 5 fixes to make your website more accessible to users with disabilities (The Big Hack)


Canada’s ‘other’ national broadcaster — the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network — thrived during the pandemic (The Globe and Mail)

For many Indigenous Canadians, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network was a lifeline during the pandemic. APTN saw a 28% increase in online traffic during the pandemic, as it covered the unique, brutal challenges faced by Indigenous peoples as the virus spread faster through their communities due to poor infrastructure and overcrowded housing. Canadian columnist Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair writes that the network, which was created in the 1990s to give Indigenous peoples a place to tell their own stories, has fostered a generation of Indigenous journalists and helped connect remote communities to each other.

+ Exiled news service started by teen blogger becomes big source of Belarus news (Reuters)


Google Images is making it easier to license photo rights (The Verge)

Google is introducing an update to Google Images that will make it easier to license photographs through the service. If an image can be licensed by a publisher, a “Licensable” badge will appear on the photo thumbnail. Clicking on the image will bring up the licensing requirements and, if applicable, a link to a site to buy the publishing rights. Users will also be able to search by the type of license attached to photos. The move is part of a slow change in Google Images, which started as a catch-all catalog of internet pictures and has moved toward giving more power to the owners of photographs.

+ Facebook could block sharing of news stories in Australia (The New York Times)


How objectivity can make audiences cynical about politics — and journalism (Nieman Reports)

Many journalists consider objectivity the goal of journalism, but Issac J. Bailey argues that a focus on objectivity can make it harder for audiences to know what’s really going on in the world. When it comes to the federal government, journalists are often so scared of seeming biased that they can obscure who is responsible for certain actions and decisions. Bailey cites one example: Journalists gave the impression that standard congressional incompetence and elitism is the reason that pandemic assistance was cut off, rather than making clear that the Democrats would have extended assistance while Republican lawmakers have disagreed on further funding, which ultimately stalled any further benefits.

+ Earlier: “If journalists replace a flawed understanding of objectivity by taking refuge in subjectivity and think their opinions have more moral integrity than genuine inquiry, journalism will be lost.” (Twitter, @TomRosenstiel)


Study Hall, the gossipy media site for freelancers, sees Gawker as its editorial north star (Nieman Lab)

P.E. Moskowitz and Kyle Chayka set out to create Study Hall as a newsletter and listserv both to help freelance writers keep up with news in the journalism industry and to give them a place to gossip freely. The company recently launched a website with the hope that coverage of insider media news will help sustain the business. While the Study Hall community is aimed at all writers, it is full of millennial New Yorkers, many of whom view Gawker as an inspiration. Study Hall is both a media outlet and an critic of modern media — as Luke Winkie puts it, “It aims to speak for all those weathering the current storm, but as an ad-free, worker-owned, subscription-based publication, it also hopes to set a precedent and serve as a model for others who want to rebuild the industry.”