Need to Know: April 19, 2022


You might have heard: Not naming mass shooters (much) is now the norm (Poynter) 

But did you know: The news media seems to be heeding the call to limit naming perpetrators in mass shootings (The Conversation) 

In recent years, law enforcement officials have been declining to name the perpetrators of mass shootings, and media outlets have been following that guidance. In 2012, after a shooting at a movie theater in Colorado, relatives of the victims asked the governor to not mention the perpetrator’s name at a memorial service, so as to not give any publicity to the shooter. This seems to have been a turning point; in a study of coverage of mass shootings between 1999 and 2021, Thomas J. Hrach found that in 2012, news outlets began using perpetrator’s names less often. 

+ Noted: Joe Kahn is named next executive editor of The New York Times (The New York Times); Alex Jones’ Infowars files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after Sandy Hook lawsuits (The Daily Beast); News publishers have sold nearly $12m worth of non-fungible tokens since March 2021 (Press Gazette); The New York Times announces the first class of its diverse crossword constructor fellowship (The New York Times); Gannett’s The Patriot Ledger in Massachusetts will end home delivery, mail newspaper instead (Media Nation) 


Podcast: How the Knoxville News Sentinel used a digital advisory group to build relationships with Black communities (It’s All Journalism)

Michael O’Connell sits down with Joel Christopher, the executive editor for Knoxville News Sentinel, and Brenna McDermott, the newsroom’s growth and development editor, to discuss how they successfully developed a critical feedback loop with Black community members by creating a digital advisory group. Knox News gave the group’s members one-year digital subscriptions as part of the program, where they discuss important community matters and offer advice to the newsroom. Newsroom leaders from The News Sentinel participated in the University of North Carolina-Knight Table Stakes program in 2020-21, where their challenge was to improve the paper’s relationship with Knoxville’s Black communities that had long been underserved.


How this couple’s intimate journalism project centers Black Brooklyn businesses (Okayplayer)

When Cynthia Gordy Giwa and Glen Allen launched Black-Owned Brooklyn, the goal was to profile Black-owned businesses in the borough that they felt “were not being talked about in a substantive way.” Now Gordy Giwa runs the project with her husband, Tayo Gordy Giwa, and the pair have amassed more than 100,000 followers on Instagram. Their tactic has been to post carefully curated images and long captions that explore the businesses’ backstories, while featuring both old and new businesses. They also reach out to followers for suggestions on who to profile.  


How a Norwegian newspaper responded to war by strengthening news desk, Web TV coverage (International News Media Association) 

By the time the war in Ukraine began, Dagbladet, Norway’s second largest newspaper, had already been discussing how best to cover a possible conflict for some time. The paper has a long history of war coverage, and its coverage of this conflict helped strengthen its industry position, writes editor-in-chief and CEO Alexandra Beverfjord. The newsroom reorganized the news desk to streamline editorial processes and brought in Ukrainian and Belarusian translators, while the product team focused on the paper’s role as a public service. Within the first few days, Dagbladet created a constantly updating war timeline, a series of maps with key information, a collection of pages on how to help war victims in Ukraine and a fact box with up-to-date information. 


Billionaires eye parallel social media universe (Axios)

Elon Musk’s bid to take over Twitter is part of a larger effort by wealthy Americans to tackle what they see as a “free speech crisis” on social media platforms, report Dan Primack and Sara Fischer. Musk and others object to the increase in content moderation on social media platforms, mostly after they have been criticized for things they’ve said on the platform. (In Musk’s case, the SEC got involved over a fake tweet about Tesla funding.) “[C]ontrolling a major social media platform takes more than money: It requires deep commitment to product and attention to legal and societal expectations around content moderation,” write Primack and Fischer. “So far, few billionaires have cracked that code.” 

+ Web scraping is legal, U.S. appeals court reaffirms (TechCrunch) 


How can our industry better engage with financially stressed journalists? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Many journalists who are not from “elite” backgrounds have found the industry unnavigable and unwelcoming, writes Alissa Quart. Editors often make inaccurate assumptions about resources that are available to writers, while publications’ delayed and sporadic payments can make it difficult for freelancers to make a living. Quart says that news outlets should take inspiration from street papers, publications that are by and for unhoused people. Editors at these publications work hard to be inclusive; an editor at Seattle’s Real Change said he would accept handwritten articles and type them up himself. 


Disinformation campaigns skewing young people’s view of war in Ukraine (VOA News)

False information about the war in Ukraine is spreading on social media, and having a particular impact on young people’s perception of the war. TikTok users say that pro-Russian propaganda has spread on the platform — sometimes by users who are trying to generate easy engagement, other times by users who are unaware that it is untrue. TikTok’s Chinese ownership worries some, report Ali Siddiqi and Lori Rampani, with some analysts, and users, convinced that the Chinese government is attempting to use the app to push narratives about the war in Ukraine and other geopolitical issues.