How a collaboration between NPR and Floodlight uncovered a ‘news mirage’ 

In March, NPR and Floodlight co-published a story on The Richmond Standard, a local “news” site that is entirely owned by Chevron and run by a PR firm. They dubbed this site a “news mirage” — a site with the appearance of local news that is in fact designed to promote a company’s perspective. It is, in effect, a corporate version of the partisan “pink slime” websites. 

NPR’s David Folkenflik and Floodlight’s Miranda Green told Nieman Lab that the collaborating efforts went beyond their own reporting; before they visited the area, they connected with students at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and worked with local reporters on the ground. 

It’s the latest collaboration between the two news outlets; they’ve previously reported on power companies in the Southeast directing money to news sites that attack their critics, and a Florida news site that lets politicians buy coverage. 

News In Focus
Headlines, resources and events aligned with API’s four areas of focus.

Civic Discourse & Democracy

>> People who got off Facebook for 6 pivotal weeks in 2020 may have been less likely to vote for Trump (Nieman Lab)

A recent study found that when people were paid to deactivate their Facebook accounts in 2020, they were less likely to be knowledgeable about current events, less likely to believe misinformation and less likely to vote for Donald Trump. 

>> Join us: Community engagement tools to inform election coverage

In this webinar, API will discuss both research and strategies for engaged election coverage this year. This is part of API and AP’s webinar series to support news organizations’ evolving needs around local elections and democracy. Register here for the event on Thursday, May 30 from 1 to 2 pm ET. 

Culture & Inclusion

>> Five Latine voting issues public media needs to follow from now until Election Day (Substack, OIGO)

Ernesto Aguilar urges media outlets to focus less on the rightward shift of Latine voters, and more on the issues that actually matter to Latinx communities. Instead, he says to address topics like immigration, economics, healthcare, the environment, and education with the goal of connecting with Hispanic audiences. 

>> Join us: Using retrospectives to optimize your news coverage

If you are a Table Stakes alumni, join a workshop with Elite Truong, API’s VP of product strategy, on how retrospective meetings can help optimize your next news project. Join us on Thursday, May 16 from 1 to 2 pm ET.

Community Engagement & Trust

>> Understanding our communities to better shape our coverage of them (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

A key part of journalism is trying to persuade the audience – to care about a person, event or issue, and in some cases, to act on the knowledge that they’ve gleaned from the work. In order to best connect with the audience, Megan Finnerty writes that storytellers must know their audience, their medium and their “vibe” before making narrative choices. 

>> Join us: Imagine rural journalism as community convener 

Our next API Local News Summit will aim to identify and advance solutions that help news leaders embrace and expand their convening and facilitation power — both to improve their community and support their overall resilience. 

The API Local News Summit on Rural Journalism, Community and Sustainability is scheduled for June 11-12 in Tulsa, OK. Request an invitation for the remaining spots at our summit by Wednesday, May 15, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Limited travel funds are available too. 

>> Trust Tip: Prioritize transparency in coverage of encampments, protests (Trusting News) 

As tensions surrounding pro-Palestinian protests and encampments across the country remain high, newsrooms can show what makes their protest coverage trustworthy and credible — explain what sets your coverage apart; avoid lazy narratives, and be careful with language; explain how you use wire coverage; and trust and care for your staff. 

Revenue & Resilience

>> Web publishers brace for carnage as Google adds AI answers (The Washington Post)

AI-generated answers will soon replace links at the top of all Google results, and experts say that publishers may see a 10-25% drop in traffic from the change. AI results often lift word-for-word phrases and sentences from websites without clear attribution. 

>> A reimagined Press Democrat, with more journalism for you … all day long (Press Democrat)

The Press Democrat, in Santa Rosa, Calif, is expanding its local and regional coverage while updating its website. In a letter to readers, Executive Editor Chris Fusco writes that stories will be published more continuously throughout the day to match the cadence of online readership.  

What else you need to know

🎓 JSK names U.S. journalism fellows for 2024-2025 (Stanford University) 

🏀 Deadspin to launch for third time with mysterious owners, unclear staff (Front Office Sports) 

💰 Student newsrooms at HBCUs to receive $200,000 in boost for journalism (The Guardian) 

✅ PolitiFact launches Spanish-language website to serve more than 40 million U.S. Spanish-speakers (Poynter) 

🗞️ Conservative operatives pour $1M+ into new Capitol Hill news outlet (Axios) 

🍴 Grist acquires The Counter and launches food and agriculture vertical (Grist)