Need to Know: September 8, 2020

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


You might have heard: Last month, Tribune Publishing announced it would close the offices of five newsrooms (Associated Press)

But did you know: Publisher locks Capital Gazette staff out of their building in Annapolis (The Washington Post)

The Capital Gazette newsroom, which suffered a mass shooting in 2018, was one of the Tribune Publishing offices that was slated to be closed, so staff planned to clean out their desks and hold a rally on Labor Day. However, Tribune locked staff out of the building without advance notice, arguing that the rally posed health concerns. Only four out of 30 staff members at the paper earn more than $40,000 per year, and most can’t afford to live in Annapolis. Hedge fund Alden Global Capital owns about a third of Tribune Publishing.

+ Noted: Appalachian Advisors Network launches with coverage guides, a freelancer hiring database and a network of local advisors to serve as resources to national and international journalists (100 Days in Appalachia); Gizmodo UK to shut down as Future Publishing ends its licensing agreement for the site (Gizmodo UK)


Apply for immediate election project funds or coverage support

API is offering micro-grants and free expert support to news organizations seeking to strengthen their coverage of Election 2020 in service of the American electorate. The grants are part of API’s Trusted Election Network, a consortium of more than 200 journalists and experts focusing on election-related challenges, including misinformation and election administration. Learn more and apply by September 14.


How Documented’s audience-first approach paid off (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

After getting tips from readers about issues with a New York City plan to assist undocumented immigrants, news nonprofit Documented published two versions of the investigation that followed. One was in English and ran in Documented’s newsletter, while the other was published on WhatsApp in Spanish. The Spanish-language version became the site’s second-best performing investigative piece so far this year. That success led the publication to seek more help from the community, bearing in mind, Nicolás Ríos writes, that “our readers often know more than we do.”

+ Earlier: How Documented started engaging its Spanish-speaking audience on WhatsApp (American Press Institute)


China freezes credentials for journalists at U.S. outlets, hinting at expulsions (The New York Times)

In the past week, the Foreign Ministry told five journalists from CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and Getty Images that they couldn’t renew their press cards, which are a requirement for foreign reporters to live in China. Government officials also said that getting their press cards renewed would hinge on whether or not the United States issues new visas to Chinese journalists working here. During the first half of 2020, the Chinese government canceled press credentials for 17 foreign journalists, who were expelled from the country.


Dads are less likely than moms and people without kids to be laid off during the pandemic, new research shows (The Lily)

Researchers at Tufts and Duke universities analyzed federal employment data from December to May, estimating that mothers were 4% more likely to be laid off compared to fathers. Previous studies show that fathers outearn men without children, with one analysis finding fathers earned 6% more than other men. Although employers may assume fathers are their families’ sole or primary breadwinner, 40% of households with kids 17 and younger have women in that role.

+ BuzzFeed News is calling QAnon a “collective delusion,” rather than a conspiracy theory, to convey the phenomenon’s size and risks (BuzzFeed News)


Capitalizing the word ‘Black’ created another style debate (HuffPost)

As publications update their stylebooks to capitalize “Black,” another issue has come up — whether to do the same with the word “white.” Some in support of capitalizing say that it allows white people to become aware of the impacts of their racial group and break with the assumption of whiteness as the default experience. Others, including the Associated Press, have argued that since white supremacists favor capitalizing the word, doing so could “(risk) subtly conveying legitimacy to such beliefs.”

+ Why news organizations should start preparing the public for delayed election results (The Washington Post)


‘We are a different newsroom’: How The Courier Journal has covered 100 days of protests (The Courier Journal)

After Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor, protesters have demonstrated for more than 100 days, and about four dozen Courier Journal staffers have followed the local movement. Editor Richard A. Green writes that the experience has increased the newsroom’s commitment to covering Louisville’s Black community. The editor compiled insights from his journalists who have covered the protests about what the story meant to them and some of the goals of their coverage.

+ Philadelphia Inquirer journalists calling for reform at the paper created a site detailing the changes they’d like to see and how the publication has responded (Transform the Inquirer)