Need to Know: September 14, 2020

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


You might have heard: The military newspaper Stars and Stripes was at risk of shutting down after a budget cut (Military Times)

But did you know: Pentagon rescinds order to shutter Stars and Stripes (Associated Press)

The Defense Department recently ordered the military’s independent newspaper to shut down after the Pentagon opted to cut $15.5 million in funding for Stars and Stripes. Trump recently posted a tweet expressing support for the paper, prompting a reversal, after recent reports that the president had made a series of anti-military statements. In addition to continuing to fund Stars and Stripes in the immediate future, the Defense Department will also consider how to fund the paper next year.

+ Noted: The Lenfest Institute is launching the Lenfest News Philanthropy Network, which will offer training on development topics like grant writing (The Lenfest Institute); A KPCC/LAist reporter was arrested while covering a protest (LAist); The Trump campaign removed a New York Times freelancer from a rally after refusing to give her credentials for the event (The Daily Beast)


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Bringing a ‘citizens agenda’ approach to a debate (Bangor Daily News)

On Friday, three Maine news outlets, The Bangor Daily News, NEWS CENTER Maine and Portland Press Herald, held a senatorial debate that used questions from readers. Part of a “citizens agenda” approach that empowers the public to set the agenda for election coverage, the event also based questions on the results of a Daily News audience survey from earlier this year that identified health care and the economy as the two most important issues for readers.

+ Earlier: How more than 20 newsrooms turned to the public to focus their 2020 election reporting (Hearken)

+ Related: The Colorado Sun explains here how it plans to cover the election and asks readers to submit questions, tips on voting issues, and political mail they’ve received so that the Sun can fact-check the claims. (The Colorado Sun)


COVID-19 deepened Serbia’s local media crisis. This is what Cenzolovka did to help (European Journalism Centre)

Serbian news site Cenzolovka, whose name means “the censorship hunter” in Serbian, reports on freedom of speech and attacks and threats against journalists. In response to efforts to stifle reporting on COVID-19, the publication translated journalists’ experiences into satirical cartoons that made the complex issue straightforward and accessible. Cenzolovka’s parent foundation also created a fund to support six local news outlets in Serbia.

+ Related: The Columbia Journalism Review spoke with dozens of reporters and editors around the world about repression they’ve experience while covering COVID-19 (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ More than two dozen news outlets, organizations and universities formed Ecuador Verifica, a coalition to fight disinformation during the country’s presidential election next year. (LatAm Journalism Review)


TikTok is paying creators. Not all of them are happy (Wired)

Two months ago, TikTok announced a plan to give creators millions of dollars, with $1 billion earmarked for American influencers within three years. But TikTok never disclosed how it would determine the amount that users receive, and some influencers say that videos with up to hundreds of thousands of views are garnering just a few dollars a day. Some influencers stopped participating in the program after they noticed their views had dropped, leading to speculation that TikTok was deflating views to limit the size of payouts.


Book publishers are taking the Internet Archive to court (The Nation)

During the pandemic, the Internet Archive’s Open Library temporarily expanded people’s abilities to check out digital books with the goal of increasing students’ access to reading material as libraries briefly went dark. In response to the program, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and other publishers filed a lawsuit that alleges the Internet Archive violated copyright law and asks the court to remove the Open Library’s collection. Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle argues that “if a publisher maintains control over every reading event, who’s allowed to read it, when are they allowed to read it, if they’re allowed to read it, and be able to prevent anybody, or particular regions, from being able to see something, we are in George Orwell world.”


How sportswriters capture the action from outside the bubble (The Daily Beast)

No more than 20 reporters are allowed in the NBA’s Disney World bubble, leaving many sports journalists to substitute technology for in-person access to players, coaches and the emotional currents of the games. During phases without games or news-generating events like press conferences, sports journalists have been tasked with rethinking the beat and the types of stories it entails. That might mean centering stories around player statistics or cold-calling sources instead of building relationships in person.

+ A rural reporter for Mountain West News Bureau is cycling across four states as he speaks with small-town voters frequently left out of regional and national election stories. (KUNC)