Need to Know: September 15, 2020

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


You might have heard: Columnist Margaret Sullivan and others have urged journalists to prepare the public for delayed election results (The Washington Post)

But did you know: About 6 in 10 voters don’t expect certainty on election night — and they’re OK with that (USA Today)

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore pushed for a recount that led to the most recent presidential election without clear-cut, immediate results. November’s outcome is predicted to be delayed for very different reasons — expanded early and absentee voting in response to the pandemic — and a Fox News poll shows that just 29% of likely voters expect results on the night of the election. According to the poll, 61% said they were either very or somewhat comfortable with not knowing the results on election night.

+ Noted: A Solutions Journalism Network initiative will support news organizations’ coverage of environmental issues and sustainability (Medium, Solutions Journalism Network); ViacomCBS to sell CNET to marketing firm Red Ventures for $500 million (Variety)


Podcast: How to win grants to fund journalism (It’s All Journalism)

In the past decade, media organizations have been awarded an estimated $300 million in grants to fund journalists and journalism projects — and the number of funders and dollars continues to grow. Jane Elizabeth, managing editor of The News and Observer and The Herald-Sun in North Carolina, talks about what makes for a winning proposal. This episode is the latest in “Better News,” a podcast series from It’s All Journalism and API that shares success stories from the Table Stakes newsroom training program.

+ Related: The complete guide to winning grants to fund your journalism (Better News)


How The Economist has tripled the number of subscribers driven by LinkedIn (Digiday)

Every day, The Economist’s social team selects nine stories to push on LinkedIn, which has grown increasingly focused on content beyond the nuts and bolts of resumes and job-searching. Since last year, The Economist’s follower count has grown about 40% on LinkedIn, which has become the news organization’s third-largest source of subscriptions from social media. The Economist’s traffic from LinkedIn has doubled since last year, as readers respond to business and finance stories, but also pieces on science, technology and culture.


BBC has settled at least 700 female employees’ equal pay claims (The Guardian)

After BBC worker Caroline Barlow discovered 15 men in similar positions in her department were earning more than her, she filed an employment tribunal claim leading to an out-of-court settlement last year. According to records that Barlow obtained through a freedom of information request, the BBC increased the pay of more than 700 female workers to settle equal pay disputes from July 2017 to March of this year. The Guardian reported that most of the BBC’s equal pay cases have been resolved, but some women continue to earn less than men who they manage.

+ Related: The BBC is forcing its national radio reporters to reapply for hybrid television, radio and digital positions (The Guardian)


Adapting how we ask about the gender of our survey respondents (Medium, Pew Research Center)

The majority of Pew Research Center’s surveys have included this question: “Are you male or female?” To adjust to shifting norms and create a third option that will make data more accurate and representative, Pew researchers have updated the question to ask if people describe themselves “as a man, a woman or in some other way.” The organization opted not to use the word “transgender,” because the term isn’t universally preferred and can’t be translated into Spanish. Some surveys for government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have asked respondents separately for their sex at birth and their gender identity, including if they identified as transgender. 

+ ByteDance rejected Microsoft’s bid for TikTok, instead choosing tech company Oracle to be its ambiguous “technology partner” (The New York Times)


The big national news providers need threat modeling teams (PressThink)

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, argues that traditional election reporting isn’t up to the task of preserving democracy. He believes major news organizations should delve into threat modeling, which examines risks and ways to deal with them. Because newsrooms have limited resources, Rosen argues threat modeling could help them determine which stories deserve immediate or sustained coverage and which can be moved to the back burner. He also pictures news outlets publishing a ranking of threats to the election, such as efforts to slow post office operations, which could be useful to the public and allow newsrooms to frame coverage.

+ Related: Alex Stamos, a former chief security officer for Facebook and Yahoo, expands on how threat modeling works and how news organizations could use it (The Verge)


Who’s interested in ‘slow journalism’? Turns out, mostly the same people who are into regular ol’ fast journalism (Nieman Lab)

Slow journalism sites like Delayed Gratification and Tortoise aim to steady the pace of a rapid-fire news cycle with in-depth journalism that “unbreaks” news. This method, with fewer stories delivered at a restrained pace, also hopes to lure back the growing ranks of news avoiders. However, recent research shows that Danish slow-news site Zetland was most likely to appeal to people who already consume news on a regular basis, not those with news fatigue.