Need to Know: July 21, 2021


You might have heard: “The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is intended to stop newspapers’ bleeding long enough for them to retool” (Seattle Times) 

But did you know: How state and local governments can stabilize local news (Medium, Trust. Media and Democracy) 

SInce COVID-19 hit, there’s been a slew of proposed legislation to help support local news organizations around the country. Mark Glaser writes that the odds of any federal bill making it through Congress are about 33%, meaning cities and states may be a better bet for local news in the long run. He cites New Jersey’s Civic Information Consortium, which awarded $500,000 in grants to community news and information projects, as a possible model; Massachusetts and Connecticut are considering proposals to help local outlets. In New York City, all city agencies are required to spend 50% of their marketing budget on small, community outlets, which worked out to $10 million in ads in the 2020 fiscal year. This model is easily replicable for other cities, although both local models are in danger of falling prey to the whims of politicians, Glaser writes.

+ Noted: Substack makes first major podcast investment (Axios); Maria Reeve is named top editor at Houston Chronicle (Houston Chronicle) 


Trust Tip: Engagement with crime coverage deserves your attention (part three) (Trusting News)

The comment section of crime stories often brings out racism and bigotry, and news organizations sometimes fail to address these bad actors. Joy Mayer writes that it’s important for newsrooms to monitor user contributions, clearly publish policies on commenting and establish a best practice for dealing with abusive comments. She also suggests that turning off comments entirely might be a better option for some newsrooms. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


El Tímpano launches community-centered approach to combat misinformation in Latino and Mayan immigrant communities (Medium, El Tímpano)

Misinformation often spreads quickly in immigrant communities who have been left behind by mainstream news organizations, writes Madeleine Bair of El Tímpano. In an effort to combat this inequity, El Tïmpano is launching a new initiative called Comunidades Informadas, or Informed Communities. The project will consist of the news outlet going out into Latino and Mayan communities that it serves and learning how people are affected by misinformation, then developing participatory media strategies, such as community workshops, that will help curb the spread of bad information. The goal is to help members of these communities recognize misinformation when they see it and stop it from spreading further. 

+ Earlier: How Documented worked to debunk coronavirus misinformation among New York’s Latino community (American Press Institute)


How the Financial Times helped its journalists build resilience during the pandemic ( 

More than nine months into the pandemic, newsroom leaders at the Financial Times knew that their workers were struggling to connect with each other while working from home. So they began taking actions; meetings like the weekly editorial conference were live-streamed for all to view, while individual editors scheduled small-group and one-on-one sessions to stay in touch with employees. Team leaders were also given short trainings in resilience, and met with other leaders to share successful team-building tactics. The company also arranged for sessions with career coaches to help staff manage their schedules and resources. 


How class background affects the way we collaborate (Harvard Business Review) 


In many collaborations, the default approach is a “divide-and-conquer” method — splitting up the work evenly between team members who work independently. But research shows that Americans from lower social-class backgrounds are more likely to work interdependently, and that often allows them to out-perform their more socio-economically advantaged peers. In many schools and workplaces, though, such collaborative, interdisciplinary work is not rewarded as much as independent success, putting people from lower social-class backgrounds at a disadvantage. To help them succeed, companies should focus more on encouraging — and training workers in — interdisciplinary work. 

+ Dozens of writers, including Malala Yousafzai, join Facebook’s newsletter platform “Bulletin” (Axios)  


When journalists withhold information ahead of their book releases, nobody wins (Dame Magazine) 

Six months after the end of the Trump administration, a flood of books by White House reporters are being released, often with new “never-before-discussed” details about the former president. Allison Hantschel writes that the decision of these reporters to withhold this information until a book is released is a dereliction of a reporter’s duty to inform the public in a timely manner. By sitting on this information, they did not allow the public to react in real time to scandals such as witness tampering during the Mueller investigation and meddling in the 2020 election. Hantschel says that newsrooms that otherwise carefully monitor any perceived conflicts of interest among young journalists are hypocritical when they let senior reporters prioritize their book deals over their daily reporting. 


Latina journalists’ ousters from Denver TV powerhouse spark outrage (NPR) 

In the course of one year, three Latina journalists were let go from Denver’s major television news station, KUSA 9News. All three say they pushed back against the station’s handling of Latino issues; Sonia Gutierrez said she was told she must reveal her own immigration status when reporting on any story related to do immigration, or else hand off the story to another reporter. Some are now calling for the dismissal of the station’s top news executives. The station’s parent company, Tegna, is facing separate accusations of racist practices, stretching back decades.