Need to Know: September 3, 2020


You might have heard: Russians are again targeting Americans with disinformation on Facebook (The New York Times) 

But did you know: Facebook will block new political ads in late October to reduce election misinformation (The New York Times)

Facebook has announced that it will ban any new political ads from appearing in the week before Election Day, a change that is intended to limit voter misinformation and prevent interference in the election. The platform said that, before the election, it will curb posts that try to persuade people not to vote, and after the election, it will redirect users away from posts that claim false victories. Facebook will begin stopping politicians from buying new ads on Facebook and Instagram on Oct. 27, but existing ads will not be affected. The site will also limit the number of people whom a user can forward a message to in Messenger, which mirrors similar efforts to curb misinformation on WhatsApp.

+ Noted: Chris Wallace, Kristen Welker among moderator choices for presidential debates (Variety); Medill’s new subscriber index will help local news outlets tie readers to revenue (Medill Local News Initiative); California lawmakers OK more exemptions from labor law, ending limits that affected freelance journalists (Associated Press)


How to start a community advisory board for your newsroom

Community advisory boards are one way to start more of your journalism from a place of listening. Board members, chosen to represent your community, can offer valuable perspectives on your reporting and guide you to stories that really matter to audiences. They can also help you build better relationships with groups that have felt alienated, misrepresented or frustrated by your coverage. With advice from several newsrooms that have community advisory boards, we put together this guide on how to start one in your own newsroom.

+ In this week’s edition of “Factually”: Fact-checking and fruitlessness, Twitter removes fake Black Lives Matter protester, and doctors and lawyers are spreading COVID-19 misinformation in Germany. “Factually” is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.  


10 ways for newsrooms to get the most out of their SaaS products (Medium, Penny Riordan)

Newsrooms are increasingly reliant on outside software for tasks like publishing across social media feeds and keeping up with site analytics. But working with SaaS (Software as a Service) products is often difficult for journalists who are unused to coordinating with vendors. Penny Riordan, a former product manager at Gatehouse Media, says newsroom managers should be negotiating better contracts and shopping around for better deals, something some journalists aren’t used to doing. They should also be responsible for maintaining communication with the vendor, ensuring that all problems are reported, and applying the “same level of journalism curiosity and investigative approach” to vendor relationships as journalists would reporting a story.

+ Reporting recipe: How to report on voting by mail (ProPublica)

+ The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes to Instagram to answer reader questions about its Kenosha coverage (Instagram, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)


HuffPost UK launches video series Black Voices to create empowering conversations about society (

The Huffington Post’s British arm is launching a new video series that will highlight Black voices around Britain. Black Voices will be an all-Black panel discussion about race in the U.K., with discussions about on-screen and expert source diversity. It will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Yinka Bokinni, who said that television discussions often fail to include Black people even when the topic being discussed directly affects them. The first episode explores how the school curriculum does not often represent a diverse history, and future episodes will explore parenting, feminism, and health.


Google wants to remix news radio just for you (Wired)

Google is adding features to Your News Update, its news aggregation service that gathers clips from various sources and plays them in one continuous audio feed. With these updates, Google is aiming for a more cohesive listening experience that mimics a public radio news program — short headlines at the beginning that lead into longer, more detailed stories. The goal is for each person to have a perfectly-tailored, 90-minute playlist that is a mix of radio, podcasts, and text-to-speech articles.

+ Twitter to add context feature to trending topics (The New York Times)


Journalism educators must take the lead on making future newsrooms more ethical (Poynter)

It’s been a summer of change in many newsrooms, with many outlets wrestling with bias and toxicity within their own ranks. Minette Drumwright, Kathleen McElroy and Carolyn McGourty Supple of the University of Texas at Austin argue that journalism educators should help improve future newsrooms by teaching journalism students not just the basics of the craft, but also effective and ethical leadership. Often, those who rise through the ranks of newsrooms — many of them white and male — receive little to no training in leadership and management, which may contribute to young women and young people of color leaving the industry earlier.

+ The sitting president has no climate plan. Why isn’t that headline news? (Columbia Journalism Review)


WGN America’s ‘NewsNation’ looks for viewers who want their news served up opinion-free (The Los Angeles Times)

Nexstar Media Group, which owns cable network WGN America, is launching a three-hour prime-time newscast that it claims will be a “neutral, opinion-free presentation of the day’s events.” WGN America, which mostly airs reruns, could be taking a run at becoming another cable news channel. The show was created based on research that says people are interested in a straight-forward news program in the evening, as opposed to the commentary-based programs that dominate the current cable news channels at that time. Two producers will scrutinize every story for language that could seem biased, and a team of “rhetoricians” will monitor the fairness of the coverage.