Need to Know: September 4, 2020


You might have heard: The Leavers Project found that journalists of color often leave the industry because of stress, low pay (Source, OpenNews)

But did you know: Want diverse newsrooms? Unions push for pay equity as a path forward (Nieman Reports)

This summer, as part of a pledge to address racial inequality, several newsrooms commissioned studies to identify pay inequities. The cause has been one that unions have been championing for years, as studies showed that women and people of color often earned less than their white male colleagues. Much of the data about pay disparity comes from union organizers, who can request data on salaries for union-eligible staffers. Despite cutbacks and financial struggles due to the pandemic, journalists are demanding systemic changes to address these problems. Financial inequities can extend beyond salaries, including issues like which reporters are given resources for stories.

+ Noted: NPR and Public Radio Stations hire Priska Neely to lead joint Gulf States Newsroom (NPR); Buzzfeed will end salary reductions, workshare(Twitter, Kerry Flynn); Senators call on Pentagon to reinstate funding for Stars and Stripes newspaper (The Hill); The Freelance Solidarity Project calls for COVID-19 graduated payment schedules (National Writers Union); INMA, Google News Initiative launch Elevate Scholarships for under-represented groups in media (INMA)


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A voters’ ‘roundtable’ helps shape the Inquirer’s election coverage (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

In the run-up to November’s presidential election, The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced The Inquirer’s Election 2020 Roundtable, a series of open, virtual conversations between 24 voters across Pennsylvania. The conversations will focus on candidates, policy issues and other topics requested by the participants, and journalists at the paper will be in ongoing communication with them to help inform the paper’s coverage. The group was put together to be as representative of the state as possible, with the 24 chosen from 500 applicants. Editors looked for voters who were particularly interested in having civil, meaningful conversations with people unlike themselves.


How South Africa’s Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism found donors with the same goals (The Media Online)

When Mia Malan started the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, it was part of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper, where it competed for space but could rely on the resources of the paper. In July 2019, Bhekisisa struck out on its own as a donor-funded outlet, with its primary funding coming from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Malan says that it was important to find a donor with similar objectives; Bhekisisa and the Gates Foundation shared the goal of informing people working in the health policy sector, and the center’s audience is mainly focused on government officials, academics, and activists.

+ Earlier: South African health site is adapting its pandemic coverage to the unique problems of the Global South (Reuters Institute); How COVID-19 is reshaping grantmaking and what news organizations should know (American Press Institute)

+ UK’s City AM delays print return as commuter audience slow to get back into office (Press Gazette)


Reuters partners with Facebook to deliver live U.S. election night results to social media users (Reuters)

Reuters and Facebook have announced a partnership for November’s election night, in which authoritative data from Reuters will be included in Facebook’s Voting Information Center and sent as push notifications. The data will include vote tabulations, exit polls and winner projections from the National Election Pool. The partnership is part of Facebook’s larger push to ensure that election results on the platform are portrayed as accurately as possible. In a statement, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that, if any candidates or campaigns try to declare victory before results are in, labels will be added to those posts and users will be directed to the official Reuters results.

+ Facebook also announced this week that it will block new political ads in late October to reduce election misinformation (New York Times)


In place of a fact check, ‘without evidence’ is a new catchphrase at NPR (NPR)

In the years since Donald Trump became president, the media has struggled with how to cover false statements by the president without seeming biased. Lately, NPR’s Public Editor Kelly McBride writes, the radio network has been affixing the phrase “without evidence” to quotes from the president as a way to throw doubt on the veracity of the claim. But there are times, as when Trump said that the teenager who shot three people in Kenosha, Wis., seemed to do so “in self-defense,” that the phrase “without evidence” is “at best too vague and at worst actually unsupported.” Instead, McBride says, reporters need to add more context to stories that will help listeners get a fuller picture.

+ Related: Our four-part email series covers ways to handle unverified quotes so that you don’t contribute to the spread of false information (American Press Institute)


The Ballot aims to cover every 2020 election — except for the one in the U.S. (Nieman Lab)

The November election in the U.S. is once again the focus of much of the country’s journalists, but at the Berlin-based election site The Ballot, the Trump-Biden race will be notably absent. When Madeleine Schwartz started the site back in February, she knew that there would be plenty of coverage of the U.S. presidential race, so she decided to focus instead on the dozens of other elections taking place around the world this year. (The initial count was 70, but many have been postponed due to the pandemic.) The Ballot operates like a digital magazine, publishing one issue with three to five stories every two weeks, and the goal is to present global politics in an approachable, style — Schwartz tells her reporters to “Write […] as if it were a letter to your friend.”


+ How prison officials block access to the media during the pandemic (The American Prospect)

+ Can college newspapers be a salve for the ailing local media? (The Media Nut)

+ Letter to a young Indigenous journalist (The Walrus)

+ Scientific American, the oldest U.S. magazine, hits another milestone as the appetite for science news heats up (Poynter)