OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: How a small-town feud in Kansas sent a shock through American journalism (The Washington Post) 

But did you know: In Alabama, another small-town paper hit in ‘open season’ on free press (The Washington Post) 

After the Atmore News in Atmore, Alabama reported on a criminal investigation into the misuse of funds by the local board of education, arrest warrants were issued for the story’s reporter and the newspaper’s publisher for disclosing confidential grand jury information. Legal scholars and press advocates say that this is a First Amendment violation and a misapplication of the law, which bans the leaking of such information but not a newspaper from publishing it. Locals say that personal animosity of the local district attorney towards the paper’s publisher is at play.

+ Noted: WSJ, Times journalists pull union away from Gaza statement (Semafor) 

API UPDATE 

Better News revisits the best stories of 2023

From the Montgomery Advertiser’s efforts to build trusted relationships with residents of rural Alabama to a Florida public media organization boosting its hurricane coverage to reach its audience where they live, Better News has helped news organizations to become more successful, innovative, and sustainable.

Better News also serves as a platform where newsrooms from around the U.S. can share actionable strategies with other media organizations that are experiencing similar struggles in navigating the ever-changing, digital-media landscape.

In this special year-end episode, Better News podcast host Michael O’Connell talks to Kamaria Roberts, the deputy director of local news transformation at the American Press Institute. Roberts highlights the work API has done over the last year through its Better News Initiative and what may be in store for 2024.

Tell API and AP how to support your election coverage

The American Press Institute and The Associated Press want to support your 2024 election coverage. Read about our collaboration, and take this 4-minute survey to help us better support you.

TRY THIS AT HOME

Why we’re doing an audit of our interviews (San Antonio Report) 

Newsrooms often fail to accurately reflect the communities they cover, which is why San Antonio Report began tracking their sources early in 2023. Using API’s Source Matters tool, the outlet began tracking the race and ethnicity, age and gender, as well as the City Council district, of every person they quote. After their first two tracking periods, the newsroom realized that only 27% of their sources were Latino, in a city that is 60% Latino. The newsroom began actively trying to improve that number; in their last tracking period, the number was up to 41%. 

OFFSHORE

EU laws to protect press freedom in jeopardy, campaigners claim (The Guardian) 

Journalists in the EU are worried that proposed laws aimed at protecting journalists in Europe are being “watered down” so much that they will not be meaningful. For instance, a proposed law that would have required review for cross-border media mergers or domestic mergers that would give one company a plurality of the market share now calls only for an “assessment of media market concentration.” There is also pushback against laws that would prohibit governments from planting spyware on journalists’ phones. 

+ Related: Russia ‘spits’ on EU sanctions in escalating propaganda battle (Bloomberg) 

OFFBEAT

Elon Musk says X will show headlines on the platform again (TechCrunch) 

Last month, X, formerly Twitter, removed headlines from article previews on the platform. Now, owner Elon Musk says that in an upcoming update, preview cards will feature headlines overlaid in the upper portion. Many news outlets had begun creating specific preview cards that feature headlines to make it easier for users to know what they’re clicking on. The new update may allow publishers to avoid using these customizations, but it will depend on the layout of the card. 

SHAREABLE

How the Kennedy assassination helped make network TV news wealthy (Nieman Lab) 

In the days after the Kennedy assassination, network TV channels eschewed ads and devoted all their airtime to the story in the spirit of public service. But the attention that the networks received in these days — at one point, 93% of the U.S. population was watching television news — led to the expansion of local news broadcasts. These quickly became extremely profitable, leading the channels to add more news content and eventually leading to the hyper-commercialized TV news that exists today.