Need to Know: September 15, 2022


You might have heard: More than 380 newsrooms are participating in Democracy Day (Collaborative Journalism)

But did you know: How we know journalism is good for democracy (Democracy Fund)

Since 2018, Democracy Fund has been tracking the impact journalism has on our democracy, and released an update quantifying what happens when local communities have strong local news — and what happens when they lose it. The report finds that in areas with strong local journalism, more people turn out to vote, people will be less biased when considering candidates, polarizing national narratives can be countered and people feel a stronger sense of community. However, local news isn’t inherently good for communities just because it’s local — it can also harm communities with its coverage, especially communities of color. 

“The faltering of newspapers, the consolidation of TV and radio, and the rising power of social media platforms are not just commercial issues driven by the market; they are democratic issues with profound implications for our communities.”  – Josh Stearns and Christine Schmidt, Democracy Fund

+ Related: On Democracy Day, commit to coverage that resists polarization by taking a Pledge for Less Polarizing Journalism and using its language for your own commitments (Trusting News); The power of democracy and why journalists must work together to protect it (Center for Cooperative Media)

+ Noted: Death of Queen Elizabeth II drives record-breaking traffic to U.K. news brands (Press Gazette); Solutions Journalism Network is launching the Climate Beacon Newsroom Initiative (Solutions Journalism Network); Ron Nixon named AP’s vice president for investigative, enterprise, grants and partnerships (Associated Press)


How The Oklahoman changed its newsroom’s mindset to focus on digital growth (Better News)

The Oklahoman grew its online audience by pushing its staff away from a print mindset, adjusting its workflows and cutting stories that used to be valued for print reasons in order to pursue digitally-successful stories. Historically, The Oklahoman was the newspaper of record in Oklahoma City, but the newsroom wanted to focus on expanding digital subscribers as print subscriptions plummeted, business editor David Dishman says. They knew they had to transform the newsroom from the inside out for their efforts to be successful. 


Upstart news outlets are covering communities of color. Grant makers should take notice (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

Tracie Powell met a number of unconventional news entrepreneurs — all people of color — with the goal of providing reliable information to their communities, especially when it comes to health, environmental protection and electoral participation. But these nontraditional newsmakers are being overlooked by national grant makers and community foundations that invest in local news, she writes. “Critically, these journalists possess an asset that money can’t buy — audience trust — and represent a huge opportunity for grant makers,” Powell says. She went on to found an organization that supports these news organizations, and encourages other philanthropists to do the same.


Tunisian digital magazine hopes to shake up journalism in the region (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

Alqatiba is a multilingual, interactive digital magazine with a focus on investigative journalism and narrative storytelling. Founded in 2020 by veteran journalist Walid Mejri, Alqatiba has already found success in the region — in part because Tunisia tends to have more media freedom than many nearby countries. Mejri notes three components that have led to Alqatiba’s success: cross-border investigations that have gained traction in more than one country, engaging content with artistic takes and simplified presentations and a regular publishing schedule to create a loyal audience.


TikTok search results are riddled with misinformation (AP News)

Anyone that uses TikTok to search for information on Covid-19, climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or any number of prominent topics is likely to encounter misleading information, according to a new report from NewsGuard. Researchers searched for newsworthy topics on the app and found that nearly 1 in 5 of the suggested videos contained misinformation. This is especially troubling because of TikTok’s popularity with young people, as well as its prevalence — TikTok is the second most popular domain in the world, second only to Google, researchers noted.


We need to teach student journalists about on-the-job harassment (Poynter)

Journalism educators have had to grapple with the unique challenges student journalists face in the field as students become more vocal — and more concerned — about the threats they may face. Northeastern University’s School of Journalism surveyed student journalists about the harassment they’ve experienced and how it impacts them, and concluded that educating student journalists about job harassment “is a crucial step in reshaping journalism’s overall professional culture into something more inclusive, accessible and supportive of new practitioners.”


How Vermont’s media helps keep the state together (The New Yorker)

Vermont’s thriving media landscape shows that the decline of local journalism is not as inevitable as some may imagine, writes Bill McKibben. Although the state’s flagship paper and local dailies have faced the falling print subscriptions and downsizing seen in papers across the country, media across the state have rallied to form nonprofit news sites, strong public broadcast journalism and alternative media that balance competition and cooperation to survive.