Need to Know: September 22, 2021


You might have heard: Partisan divides in media trust widen, driven by a sharp decline among Republicans (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Age also determines how Americans view the national news media (Knight Foundation)

Differences in Americans’ trust in the national media and attitudes about its role in democracy vary not just by political partisanship but age as well, a Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found. Younger Americans (ages 18-34) are more distrusting of the media than older adults and have less trust in the media than adults their age did 20 years ago. Just under a third (29%) reported having “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in national news organizations. Adults aged 35-54 are even more distrusting, with about 44% reporting they trust national news organizations “none” or “very little.” From 2001 to 2020, trust in news among those 55+ decreased only by about 6%. In contrast, trust among 35-54-year-olds fell by about 17%, and for the youngest adults, trust decreased by about 18%.

+ Noted: The Washington Post launches digital ad network (Axios); Institute for Nonprofit News receives $163,000 grant from new cryptocurrency community fund (Institute for Nonprofit News); Trump sues New York Times and niece Mary Trump over tax records story (The Washington Post)


How the Post and Courier raised more than $1 million for a South Carolina-wide investigative fund and Education Lab (Better News)

Deep investigative reporting is expensive and the costs can’t always be covered by digital subscriptions. So The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier launched a fundraising campaign for its investigative work, beginning with its series “Uncovered,” which examines local abuses of power. “We aimed to raise money from our existing loyal followers and subscribers while also building new funnels of wealthier community members who share our values,” writes Executive Editor Autumn Phillips. The Post and Courier’s goal is to eventually fund one quarter of its newsroom budget through philanthropy. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.


What journalists can learn from community organizers (Medium, We Are Hearken)

Community organizing hinges on relationship building and bringing people together to understand different viewpoints and possible solutions to problems. In that way, its goals are similar to journalism’s. Journalists can copy community organizers’ techniques for identifying and reaching out to stakeholders, “strategizing and envisioning” community members’ participation in a project, and post-project evaluation and learning. While it’s obviously important that the work doesn’t cross over into activism, building authentic relationships with people (particularly those who don’t wield power in the traditional sense) is something journalists should invest more time in, writes Jennifer Brandel.

+ Earlier: How The Sacramento Bee built strong community partnerships to serve audiences it had long neglected (Better News)


Lessons from Brazil on how to better cover the environment and the climate crisis (Reuters Institute)

Brazilian journalists have been covering the climate crisis longer than most. Daniela Chiaretti, environment reporter at Brazil’s biggest financial newspaper Valor Econômico, said environment desks should take a local lens to their reporting. Environmental coverage also isn’t just the purview of the environmental desk — every journalist should be able to recognize how climate change impacts their beat. That requires every journalist having a basic grasp of climate science, says Chiaretii. She recommends that newsrooms mandate training on the subject. When newsroom budgets don’t allow for training or in-depth coverage, she suggests collaborating with news outlets dedicated to climate journalism. Local news outlets in Brazil, for example, have partnered with InfoAmazonia to republish its content.


Why brainstorming should be asynchronous (OpenNews)

Often brainstorming meetings are planned around the assumptions that one, the number of participants should be small, and two, everyone should be participating at the same time. But limiting the number of perspectives — whether by inviting fewer people or by requiring that they all be present at the same time — results in worse work, writes Sisi Wei. Wei suggests incorporating asynchronous options into a brainstorming session, such as having everyone write their ideas on a shared Google doc during the live meeting, and then turning that document into a worksheet for people participating on their own time. After they’ve had time to contribute, synthesize the results of both the live session and the asynchronous session, and share it back with the group. 


A new media strategy for selling the seriousness of the climate crisis: Humor (The Washington Post)

In a rare collaboration Wednesday night, several late-night talk show comics plan to address the issue of climate change on their shows, using the familiar weapon of humor to try to impress upon their audiences the gravity of the issue. “Humor is a very powerful tool, and it’s not being used as effectively as it could be,” says M. Sanjayan, chief executive of the Arlington-based nonprofit organization Conservation International. “It isn’t used enough as a weapon — lampooning the forces of evil — or as a unifying force that de-stresses us and allows us to be engaged.” Tonight’s collaboration takes place during Climate Week NYC, an annual series of events running concurrently with the UN General Assembly. “I expect, probably by the end of the show, we will have solved the climate crisis,” host Samantha Bee told The New York Times. “So that’s exciting.”


The ‘five big Sunday shows’ are not diverse in terms of race and gender, report finds (Women’s Media Center)

A study by the Women’s Media Center found that two-thirds of guests on “influential, agenda-setting” television shows such as Meet the Press and Face the Nation are male, and nearly three-quarters are white. White men comprise the majority of guests on these shows. “The experts and opinion leaders featured tell us who has power — who and what the shapers of media think we should care about,” writes CEO Julie Burton. “Why is it that women, who are nearly 51% of the population, were only 32% of the guest appearances? Why is it that people of color, who are nearly 40% of the population, were only 27% of the guest appearances?”