Need to Know: August 10, 2022


You might have heard: FBI executes search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in document investigation (CNN) 

But did you know: How the extraordinary FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was covered across the media landscape (CNN) 

The FBI’s Monday morning search of former President Trump’s home in Florida caught almost all journalists by surprise, writes Brian Stelter. Trump’s own statement was one of the earliest reports; sources told reporters that the FBI was searching for presidential documents; in other words, not those related to Jan. 6. Conservative media focused on Trump’s talking points, while Justice Department officials declined to comment on the search. The raid was first reported by Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics, a news organization that mostly covers local and state elections. His tweets about the search preceded Trump’s by a few minutes.  

+ Related: How a former Florida political operative broke the Mar-a-Lago FBI story (The Washington Post)

+ Noted: Column, a public benefit company that provides software to streamline the placement of public notices, has raised $30 million (Axios)


Trust Tip: Use contact forms to build trust (Trusting News) 

Finding contact information for a news organization and for individual journalists should not be complicated, writes Lynn Walsh. While having a helpful “contact us” page is important, the page (and anywhere it is linked or embedded) can also be a great way to build trust with your community. KPCC used the space above its contact form to remind its community about its values as a news organization. Thinking carefully about word choice when asking for feedback can be very impactful. It also can remind your community what you care about and why you want to hear from them.


NYT plans advertising expansion into non-news products (Axios) 

After years of focusing on increasing its digital subscription base, The New York Times is now working to build more ad products, writes Sara Fischer. The Times has more than 9 million subscribers across all of its products, with more than 1 million for both Cooking and Games. The outlet is currently running tests to find ways to increase ad offerings while not being “disruptive or annoying,” says Lisa Howard, global head of advertising at the Times. The Times has been acquiring products — like the popular word game Wordle and the sports site The Athletic — and has “a lot more surfaces to work with now,” said Howard. 


Inside a TV news station determined to report facts in the Taliban’s Afghanistan (NPR) 

Journalists at Afghanistan’s TOLOnews, the country’s first 24/7 news channel, are still working to cover the news under the Taliban. The head of the network says it lost more than 90% of the staff when the Taliban took over and tens of thousands of Afghans fled the country. But with so many news outlets closing due to strict government interventions or a lack of funding, the station was able to hire journalists from other organizations, report Steve Inskeep and Arezou Rezvan. The station has had run-ins with the government — the head of the network and an anchor were briefly arrested after disobeying a Taliban order — but the network has continued to cover topics that the government would rather they not, such as the ongoing closures of girls’ schools. 


How Facebook helped Axios sell for $500 million (Vox)

Axios’s recent sale to Cox for $525 million is a sign that the five-year-old startup is succeeding both journalistically and financially, writes Peter Kafka. A lot of that is due to tech companies like Meta and Google, who have spent considerable advertising money with Washington D.C.-based outlets like Axios, Politico and Punchbowl News. These companies are “looking to repair or burnish their reputation” with lawmakers. Axios generated $87.5 million in sales in 2021, and hopes to bring in $100 million this year. 


Emails raise questions about WashPost fact checker (The Lever) 

Last month, after the story of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio leaving the state to obtain an abortion went viral, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler wrote a column that was skeptical of the sourcing of the story, saying it was based on one source and hadn’t been corroborated by local officials. After reporting from the Columbus Dispatch confirmed that the story was true, Kessler updated his piece and said that officials from Franklin County, Ohio had failed to respond to his request for comment. But Andrew Perez reports that, via a FOIA request, he has proof that Franklin County officials did respond to Kessler’s email, although they declined to comment. The Post on Monday corrected its story, saying that Franklin County’s response was missed during the reporting.


Journalism’s influential awards lack diverse judges (The Objective)

Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen is the first and only Asian American judge on the Pulitzer Prize Board, write Bahar Ostadan, Samson Zhang, Yiwen Lu, Omar Rashad and Brammhi Balarajan. It’s not the only awards panel that lacks diversity; in a survey of the Peabody Awards, the Gerald Loeb Awards and the Livingston Awards, they found that Asians, Latinos and Blacks were underrepresented on the judging panels. “Having people of color in the judging room can change perceptions about what kind of journalism is worthy of recognition,” they argue.