Need to Know: September 22, 2020

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


You might have heard: A 2018 review of pay studies at seven news outlets found men outearned women and white journalists received higher salaries than people of color (VOICES)

But did you know: Salary disparities are the most visible factor of discrimination against Latino journalists (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

In one study from the Los Angeles Times Guild, those salary disparities are stark, with mostly Latina, non-white women earning $30,000 less than white men and non-white men earning $15,000 less than their white counterparts. Dagmar Thiel writes that it’s common for Latino journalists to feel discriminated against at work because of salary disparities and lack of resources to do their jobs. One photojournalist said that in the Hispanic market, his salary was half what it would have been in an English market.

+ Noted: Los Angeles Times reporters investigated “managerial missteps and ethical lapses” at the paper, interviewing more than 50 of their current and former colleagues (Los Angeles Times); Following almost two dozen layoffs at Lee Enterprises papers last week, Lee-owned Tulsa World in Oklahoma laid off 10 journalists yesterday (Poynter)


API’s Trusted Elections Network hosts conversation series with The Associated Press on key election topics 

The Associated Press and API’s Trusted Elections Network will hold a series of free virtual sessions beginning this week that explain the essential role AP plays in U.S. elections and share insights for local news outlets on how to prepare for this year’s unique challenges. The first presentation, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. ET, will serve as a primer on how AP calls races, and discuss how the pandemic will affect that process. Learn more and register here. 


How BuzzFeed and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed global money laundering (BuzzFeed News)

About a year ago, BuzzFeed received thousands of pages of secret government documents, leading to this week’s debut of a joint investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations around the world. This explainer on their process could give local journalists ideas for how to pull off a collaborative investigation on a smaller scale. The team spent a year analyzing the material, doing data entry and building tools to aid the project, which details more than $2 trillion in suspicious transactions. BuzzFeed News developed software to take data from the records and plug it into a searchable database, where reporters could do further analysis. Aside from the data, the records also contained narrative reports, which were divided and examined by more than 80 reporters.

+ “It’s election week, not Election Day,” and other tips on reframing your election coverage (Reframe from Resolve Philly); This thread has a wealth of advice for new journalists on how to network and develop professionally (Twitter, @shefalikulkarni)


South Korea’s news outlets chase the digital dream (Nikkei Asian Review)

In South Korea, online-only news organizations, like the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism, are using original, hard-hitting reporting to draw the monthly support of thousands of readers. But the country’s newspaper industry is behind its global peers in terms of finding ways to monetize digital efforts. While trust in South Korean newspapers is low, observers say part of the problem is external. One of South Korea’s most popular news sources is Naver, the country’s largest internet company, which offers content for free. According to a survey from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 62% of residents read news on Naver more than once a week, making it a fierce competitor.

+ Earlier: The New York Times is moving its Hong Kong bureau to Seoul (The New York Times)

+ Danish news outlet Zetland used audio articles to gain 2,000 new members (


Artificial intelligence could boost disinformation presence (The Atlantic)

Influence campaigns that mimic news organizations and their writers are evolving with artificial intelligence technology, which allowed Russia’s Internet Research Agency to furnish phony site PeaceData with AI-generated photos of fake authors. AI tools also can use language samples to create text based on a program’s best guess of what would come next. Renée DiResta writes that this technology will force editors to identify when material, including submissions such as op-eds, is made and pushed by AI.

+ Deal purporting to block China from accessing American data would give Chinese-owned ByteDance a share of up to 80% in TikTok Global (Bloomberg)


A replanting strategy: Saving local newspapers squeezed by hedge funds (The Center for Journalism and Liberty)

Newspapers owned by hedge and private equity funds have built a reputation of slashing newsroom budgets, but they’re also responsible for more than half of the United States’ daily paper circulation. Report for America co-founder Steven Waldman proposes a “replanting” strategy for these papers to transition into nonprofits with the support of a privately-run fund and new federal policies that would encourage chains to donate newspapers to their communities. He writes that the government could create perks like tax incentives for chains that donate their papers to local nonprofits or public-benefit corporations, which are for-profit but have a public mission.


First-time voters were guest editors for The Guardian’s “climate takeover” section (The Guardian)

These seven college students oversaw a special section that addressed climate change from the vantage point of Generation Z environmental activists. Several stories in the series, which features pieces by Gen Z writers, center on teenagers and college students pushing for their schools to adopt more carbon neutral policies. Alice Shinn writes that the team aimed to “bring attention to the physical and mental burdens that our generation is saddled with due to the negligence of past generations.”

+ Related: College newspaper reporters are the journalism heroes for the pandemic era (The Washington Post)