Need to Know: August 8, 2022


You might have heard: Candidates in Republican primaries are trying to dodge journalists (CNN)

But did you know: Republicans have long feuded with the mainstream media. Now many are shutting them out (NPR)

Danielle Kurtzleben went to Wisconsin for a story on how abortion was affecting the primaries. Democrats talked to her, but Republicans wouldn’t. It’s part of a trend, she writes. This is especially true on the national level, but in some cases even local journalists have been stonewalled by the GOP. In Colorado, when a Republican gubernatorial candidate wouldn’t take questions at an event, reporters asked themselves what they were even doing there. That’s an important question, said Khadijah Costley White, a Rutgers University professor. “Is it important to have voices regardless of what they say, regardless of whether or not they’re using that opportunity as a way to distribute disinformation or misinformation?” she asked. “Is that valuable to democracy?”

+ Noted: Advertising slowdown spreads beyond tech giants to hit TV networks, publishers (The Wall Street Journal) 


How to build ‘digital readiness’ within your news organization (The Lenfest Institute)

A shift beyond print and toward a digital-first revenue model requires news organizations to consider what the ideal “end-state” revenue and expense model will look like in order to allocate resources to initiatives that support these goals, writes Hayley Slusser. Peter Doucette, the former Philadelphia Inquirer chief revenue officer and Lenfest Institute senior advisor of digital revenue strategy, says advertising and other revenue sources are important, but digital revenue will largely be driven by consumer revenue, meaning digital subscriptions. Doucette suggested that an ideal, sustainable model would have the total digital revenue equal twice the newsroom expenses. The Beyond Print initiative aims to guide participating news organizations away from print-centric revenue models toward a sustainable digital future. 


Outlier’s hiring hotline models care for job candidates (Medium, Institute for Nonprofit News)

People who are thinking about a job at Detroit’s Outlier Media can schedule a time on executive director Candice Fortman’s calendar, then spend 20 minutes talking to her — before even deciding whether to apply. The “hiring hotline” gives potential applicants a chance to learn about the organization and its hiring process, writes Bridget Thoreson, who shares tips from Fortman for newsrooms that might want to start their own hotlines. “Above everything, the measure for success for me in our entire process has to be the care for human beings,” Fortman said. “And so if people felt cared for in any way and felt this was a thoughtful process, that’s success for me.”


This Nigerian foundation is training student journalists to become ‘mediapreneurs’ (International Journalists’ Network) 

The Africa Foundation For Young Media Professionals is helping the next generation of journalists become media entrepreneurs by equipping them with the skills they need to create and market small newsrooms. The program, writes Adejumo Kabir, was created in 2017 by communications and media specialist Yinka Olaito, who felt that Nigerian media outlets were not in a position to do the kind of mentoring journalists needed. In addition to trainers from his team, Olaito invites mainstream journalists and media experts to help with the training, which includes best practices in investigative and solutions journalism. 


A hyperlocal news site in New York offers a window into the war in Ukraine (NPR’s Rough Translation podcast) 

Why does the Red Hook Daily Catch in New York’s Hudson Valley have a Ukraine correspondent? It started when Pavel Kuljuk, a journalist in eastern Ukraine, answered a job ad from Emily Sachar, the editor-in-chief of the community news site in Red Hook. Kuljuk’s work digging into local databases showed that, even from afar, he could see stories that locals missed. Eventually, though, his work changed as Sachar encouraged him to tell stories of life in his town of Kramatorsk as Russian troops came closer. His stories, and the reaction of the Daily Catch’s audience, ultimately inspired Sachar to ask the question, “What is local anymore?” 


Alex Jones’ $49.3 million verdict and the future of misinformation (Associated Press)

Is the $49.3 million judgment against Alex Jones a blow to fake news? From a legal perspective, the answer lies in the distinction between falsehoods that defame a person or business, which aren’t protected as free speech, and disinformation that does not attack individuals, experts tell Michael R. Sisak. Jones attacked the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, claiming it was staged, and thus is being forced to pay, explains Sisak, whereas “Holocaust deniers, flat-earthers and vaccine skeptics are free to post their theories without much fear of a multimillion-dollar court judgment.”

+ Related: Don’t expect Alex Jones’s comeuppance to stop lies (The New York Times)


Weekly report highlights top local news coverage and why it matters (Seattle Times)

Each week, a handful of volunteers spend hours scanning U.S. newspapers to produce the newsletter “Local Matters,” a compilation of some of the best accountability journalism produced across the country. A recent edition, for example, called attention to a Chicago Tribune report about government agencies encouraging farmers to use fertilizer containing toxic chemicals. “Reading the newsletter helps explain why Americans’ trust in local news remains consistently higher than trust in national news: Local newsrooms continue doing great work on behalf of their communities,” writes Brier Dudley. Local Matters, he says, is a “priceless tool for journalists who use it for reporting ideas, career advancement and recruiting.”