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Need to Know: September 10, 2018

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


You might have heard: Six women raise new assault and harassment claims against CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves (The New Yorker)

But did you know: Leslie Moonves exits CBS without severance package; company says $20 million will be donated to women’s groups (Los Angeles Times)

Bowing to pressure brought on by a sexual harassment scandal, Moonves resigned Sunday, marking a stunning fall from grace for one of Hollywood’s most respected entertainment executives, reports Meg James. CBS announced that it and Moonves will donate $20 million to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. The donation, which will be made in the coming days, will be deducted from any severance benefits that might have been due to Moonves, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. Moonves had been eligible to receive an exit deal valued at about $180 million, but now the CBS board plans to negotiate a financial settlement after the conclusion of an investigation into the allegations against Moonves. In a statement, CBS said that Moonves was exiting immediately and that Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as president and acting CEO while the board searches for a permanent successor.

+ Related: Moonves denies sexual harassment allegations and says he’s “deeply saddened” to be leaving CBS (Variety); Legendary photographer Antonin Kratochvil resigns from photojournalism agency VII amidst sexual harassment allegations, emphasizing need for photojournalism to face its own #MeToo moment, writes Kainaz Amaria (Vox)

+ Noted: New York Times op-ed editor James Dao answers readers’ questions about the Trump editorial (The New York Times); Civil announces cryptocurrency token sale, 100 percent of money raised will go to the Civil Foundation to fuel grants for worthy journalism projects (Medium, Matthew Iles); Rasmus Kleis Nielsen named new director of the Reuters Institute (Reuters Institute)


Building trust, one interview at a time (RTDNA)

Reporters in the field have an opportunity to build trust every day, with every story, one person at a time. Key interviewing skills can make a big difference in the larger effort to improve public trust in journalism. Even before chasing a specific story, journalists should focus on forming organic relationships with members of their communities, which can lead to story ideas, interview connections and trust. While preparing for an interview, make sure sources understand certain things about the journalistic process, such as terms like “off the record” and “on background,” that impact their participation, and that they are clear about how their information will be used. Employ active listening techniques during an interview, listening not just to get to your next question, but to really understand. Finally, the three most important trust-building steps following an interview are to say thank you, get it right and follow up.

+ Earlier: 32 percent of Americans have ever been interviewed by a journalist, and 83 percent of them felt the resulting news story was mostly or entirely accurate

+ 8 key lessons learned from funding collaborative reporting projects (Medium, Stefanie Murray); These stories show how to do solutions journalism right (Medium, Julia Hotz)


Al Jazeera’s interactive video project on female coders around the world (

Although jobs in information and communication technology are among the fastest growing worldwide, the growth of women in computer science has stagnated since the 1980s, with fewer women equipped with the coding skills needed to tell stories in digital journalism. However, a new project, Coding Like a Girl, has aimed to encourage the growth of females in the space by looking into how different countries are getting women into coding, along with the obstacles these women have to overcome. “We wanted to focus on a mix of characters, showing the differences between developing countries and those in the western world,” said Michele Bertelli, one of the journalists working on Coding Like a Girl.


From novelist Annie Sullivan, 10 Instagram tips for writers (

“For a while now, I’ve heard that Instagram is the new social media place for writers,” writes Annie Sullivan. As younger generations flock to Instagram, Sullivan offers advice for writers to use the platform to their advantage. Among her tips: use hashtags to get your posts in front of those who aren’t yet following you; stick to the 80/20 rule, in which only 20 percent of your content markets your own work, and the other 80 percent highlights relevant material. Strike up conversations with other Instagrammers (asking thoughtful questions in your posts is a good way to kick off these interactions); try to post every day (or at least a few times each week); and instead of buying followers, who may not engage with your work over the long term, try sponsoring a post, which can help you target specific audiences.


What Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg taught Congress and vice versa (The New York Times)

Contrary to much of what is happening in Washington these days, last Wednesday’s tech hearings — where Congress heard from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on what their companies are doing to limit foreign interference and misinformation on their platforms — showed a political system earnestly wrestling with issues for which there are no easy answers, writes Farhad Manjoo. They also showed two companies, whether out of embarrassment or fear or brand management, seriously engaging with lawmakers’ worries and guiding them through the thicket of issues involved. Yet at the heart of these hearings was a perplexing question, one that was rarely addressed: What power does Congress have to regulate how tech companies manage their services?

+ “Reporters of color leaving newsrooms is dangerous, not because there is one less person of color but because of a loss in how we cover representative democracy” (Nieman Lab)


New research suggests that a surge in PIOs negatively impacts journalism (Poynter)

A series of studies sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists says public information officers are making it more difficult to get access to interviews and information. SPJ reports, “Over the last 25 years or so, there has been a relatively rapid trend toward prohibiting staff members from communicating to journalists without reporting to some authority, often public information officers.” Police reporters are the most affected group, said former SPJ president Carolyn Carlson of Kennesaw State University, who earned her doctorate while conducting research on how PIOs control information. Carlson found that, increasingly, journalists cannot speak directly with police officers who are on the beat. “The single most frightening statistic in the body of my research,” Carlson said, “is that more than half of the PIOs we heard from admitted that they are determining who can cover them. They are banning entire publications and networks and shows. It would be different if it was not a government agency.”

+ Related: Amid nationwide strike, media access to prisons is limited (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ “There are a whole bunch of people who are 60 to 70 years old today who became journalists because of the role that the press had in covering civil rights, Vietnam and Watergate. This (moment in history) is a Vietnam, this is a Watergate moment.” (Poynter)

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