Need to Know: June 17, 2022


Yesterday, USA Today announced that it was removing 23 articles written by breaking news reporter Gabriela Miranda, after an investigation determined that there were fabricated sources in the stories. The New York Times reported on managing editor Michael McCarter’s note to readers, where he said the paper was planning a review “to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.” (The New York Times)


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

How journalists wrestle with covering threats to democracy. A new report from Protect Democracy proposes guidelines for how news outlets can distinguish between “normal political jockeying” and dangerously anti-Democratic conduct. (The New York Times)  

Overview and key findings of the Reuters Institute’s 2022 Digital News Report. Trust in news remains low around the world, with the U.S. at the very bottom of the rankings. Meanwhile, news avoidance is up almost everywhere. (Reuters Institute)  

Felicia Sonmez’s firing highlights the limits of progress for women in newsrooms. Issac J. Bailey argues that The Post was effectively telling women: “Be nice when a man displays a bit of sexism. Or be quiet.” (Nieman Reports) 


What local news organizations are learning by guiding audiences to practical information

API will host an open Zoom discussion on Monday, June 27, at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) to discuss what local news organizations are learning about modern service journalism, or stories aimed at conveying practical information on topics like voting in a pandemic, hurricane preparedness and how people can access housing and health services. Much of this work is rooted in deep listening to community needs through engagement on various venues or platforms — for example, in-person or via messaging apps or text — and experiments that can build momentum for greater work. We’ll hear from four organizations that participated in API’s Local News Ideas to Action Fund (2021) or Trusted Elections Network Fund (2020). Participants are encouraged to share questions ahead of time. 

Develop audience-centric election coverage with support from Hearken 

API is again fiscally sponsoring the Election SOS initiative helmed by Hearken. Election SOS is offering a 4-week cohort training program to help newsrooms craft engagement strategies that address audience information needs ahead of the midterm elections. A few slots remain available for the July training. It’s pay-what-you-can thanks to grant support. Interested news organizations can get more details and inquire about participating by emailing 

How a Southern California Public Radio task force drove systemic change in DEI (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Southern California Public Radio leveraged the tools behind performance-driven change to better incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into its organization. The process involved creating a task force to assess where SCPR was in terms of DEI, figuring out opportunities for change and making recommendations to leadership for moving forward. A priority was to make recommendations with identifiable goals that were more likely to be adopted by the executive team and board, writes Ashley Alvarado, who lays out the tools the organization used to ensure success.


+ How police treatment of journalists at protests has shifted from cohabitation to animosity (Poynter) 

+ Seth Rich’s killing was exploited on Fox News and online. His parents are fed up. (NPR) 

+ “Like a slow-motion coup”: Brazil is on the brink of a disinformation disaster (Nieman Lab) 

+ Joe Kahn is now editing the New York Times. Don’t expect a revolution. (The Washington Post)