Need to Know: September 6, 2022


You might have heard: How news organizations used automated news to cover COVID-19 (Poynter) 

But did you know: What should a ‘Modern Reporter’s Notebook’ include in the 21st century? (Reuters Institute for Journalism) 

Journalists are not always eager to try out new technologies, writes Simon Elvery. Instead, reporters make do with what they know rather than seeking out better solutions. “Too often we are passive receivers of technology, waiting for the next thing to be imposed upon our practice, rather than actively pursuing how we can harness technology for the betterment of journalism,” Elvery writes. He argues that journalists should be seeking out more integrated tools to create a “knowledge bank” that can be used as a resource, and that newsrooms should be encouraging journalists to employ innovative tools.   

+ Noted: Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German killed outside home (Las Vegas Review-Journal); The Atlanta Journal-Constitution plans to discontinue daily print editions, but will keep a Sunday/weekend newspaper (Saporta Report); Israeli investigation finds journalist Shireen Abu Akleh likely killed by unintentional IDF fire (Axios); The Ohio Local News Initiative launches a new newsroom, Signal Cleveland (Signal Cleveland)


What we learned testing an anti-polarization checklist with news consumers (Medium/Trusting News)

As a part of its Road to Pluralism initiative, Trusting News worked with five newsrooms over two months to implement an anti-polarization checklist to cut down on polarizing news and topics. The newsrooms’ experience revealed insights about ways that coverage might unintentionally polarize readers. Colorful, snarky or flashy language can seem polarizing, especially when discussing politics, race or beliefs. Sharing national wire stories and op-eds on a local site may confuse and alienate readers. Additionally, most Americans are neither liberal nor conservative, so avoid using those labels when discussing the general public.

+ Related: Make your reporting less polarizing with this Trusting News guide (Medium/Trusting News)


Slow journalism could be a solution to journalistic crises (The Fix)

Quarterly publication Delayed Gratification proudly boasts that it is “the last to break the news,” writes Alberto Puliafito, editor-in-chief of the Italian magazine Slow News. The slow journalism movement aims for a quality over quantity approach, and eschews the break-neck speed of social media reporting. “Taking the time means caring for the audiences, providing them with accurate facts in proper contexts, and helping them to browse the contemporary world,” writes Puliafito. Several slow news publications have found loyal audiences and become sustainable. 


Moscow court revokes Novaya Gazeta’s license to publish inside Russia (The Guardian) 

A court in Moscow has stripped newspaper Novaya Gazeta of its print media license, essentially banning the paper from operating inside Russia, reports Pjotr Sauer. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, was one of the recipients of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, accused the paper of lying about its ownership, but Muratov says the entire case has been “a political hit job, without the slightest legal basis.” Next week, in a separate ruling, a court will decide if Novaya Gazeta can continue to publish on its website. 

+ Related: Russian journalist Ivan Safronov handed 22-year prison sentence (Financial Times); Russia’s war on Wikipedia (Rest of World) 


The focus on misinformation leads to a profound misunderstanding of why people believe and act on bad information (London School of Economics) 

In the aftermath of Brexit and the 2016 presidential election, the dangers of misinformation became a widespread concern. But, writes Daniel Williams, “the misinformation panic is largely misguided.” Most people don’t actually see much misinformation, and even when they do, it rarely impacts their behavior. People are much more susceptible to rationalizations, writes Williams, and therefore always seek out information that reflects favorably on ourselves and our communities. If news outlets seek not to peddle lies but rationalizations, “their insidious impact often lies not in the strict falsity of their content but in the way in which it is integrated and packaged to support appealing but misguided narratives.” 


Anonymous editors are a bigger problem than bylined reporters (Press Watch) 

Bylines give readers a way to hold a particular person or people responsible for the words that are published under their names, but it’s anonymous editors who assign, review and ultimately sign off on the articles. Dan Froomkin argues that more news organizations should follow the lead of Reuters, which publishes the names of all writers, reporters and editors at the bottom of each piece. “It’s past time these editors showed themselves, instead of operating in anonymity – unaccountable, and also uncelebrated,” writes Froomkin. 


Missouri AG used Sunshine Law to seek Missourian, MU journalism school records (Columbia Missourian)

In June, Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, used the state’s open records law to request three years of emails between professors at the University of Missouri’s journalism school and reporters at the Columbia Missourian. The records are covered by open records laws because the Missourian is financially supported by the university, which is a public entity. The requests appear to relate to the newspaper’s collaboration with fact-checking group PolitiFact, though the attorney general’s office declined to comment on the specifics. Schmitt is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate.

+ Related: Student journalists reveal a changing world. Let them. (The New York Times)