Need to Know: June 1, 2020

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism 


You might have heard: A CNN crew was arrested on air while covering the George Floyd protest in Minneapolis (CNN)

But did you know: Shock as journalists are arrested, injured by police while trying to cover the story (The Washington Post)

Over the weekend, at least a dozen journalists were injured while covering protests across the country. During many of the incidents, they identified themselves as journalists, but still faced injury, harassment or arrest. Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon believes police tactics are contributing to the dynamic between reporters and law enforcement. For instance, police may create two lines of officers around protesters, then arrest everyone in between them, activists and journalists alike.

+ Earlier: Lessons on journalists’ rights while covering protests from Ferguson, Mo. (Poynter)

+ Related: A photojournalist who covered the Minneapolis protest permanently lost vision in her left eye due to rubber bullets (Twitter, @KillerMartinis); Police shot rubber pellets at a Louisville reporter (Courier Journal); A Denver Post photographer said police aimed pepper balls at him (The Denver Post)

+ Noted: Microsoft lays off dozens of journalists and plans to replace them with AI (The Verge); BuzzFeed staff take pay cuts, shared workload to stave off more coronavirus furloughs (The Daily Beast); Fox TV stations create a “pop-up news channel” to cover the pandemic (Knight-Cronkite News Lab)


Free content, tools and funding to help your newsroom cover the coronavirus

We’re continuing to track free tools and grant funding that newsrooms can use to supplement their existing resources for covering the pandemic. Recent additions include this new ProPublica database of federal contracts related to the coronavirus, which journalists can search for vendors in their area.


How to optimize digital election coverage for engagement? Make it digestible (Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute)

The Columbia Missourian’s editors wanted to emphasize to younger voters the value of showing up at the ballot box, so the Reynolds Journalism Institute developed a social media strategy to guide the publication’s approach during the 2020 election season. A test video, which received about 1,600 views on Facebook and Twitter, demonstrated that the Missourian’s audience was seeking basic election information, including background on what’s on the ballot this year. The institute also recommends newsrooms use Instagram’s question and polling features to solicit questions from their audience.


Publishing for WhatsApp? Here are three great ways to do it (South Africa Media Innovation Program)

In South Africa, WhatsApp is the most popular social network, with more active users than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Africa Check, Volume and the International Fact-Checking Network use the app to distribute a fact-checking podcast called What’s Crap on WhatsApp. The five-minute show, which has about 5,000 subscribers, addresses misinformation that has spread on WhatsApp within the app itself. Subscribers also submit WhatsApp messages containing disinformation to the show, giving journalists greater insight into what’s spreading on the platform.


Facebook employees asked the company to remove Trump’s threat of violence (The Verge)

Last week, Twitter placed advisories on two tweets from President Trump – the first to fact-check a false comment on mail-in voting, the other warned about language that glorifies violence against protesters. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company wouldn’t allow politicians to post content that incites violence, but the social network hasn’t responded to Trump’s post, which includes the line, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Some Facebook employees criticized the company’s approach, questioning why the post wasn’t removed to comply with policies on content that incites violence.

+ Zuckerberg on why Facebook left up the post: The company “should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.” (Facebook)


Arresting reporters at a protest is an affront to the First Amendment (CNN)

In its guide to covering protests, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press writes that under the First Amendment, police can’t stop journalists from covering protests if they aren’t disrupting or interfering with law enforcement. “Simply being near a protest or other newsworthy event is not a crime,” the guide says. Brian Stelter writes that Friday’s arrest of a CNN crew in Minneapolis is an egregious example of an infringement on freedom of the press in the United States. A 2017 U.S. Press Freedom Tracker analysis found protests were the most dangerous setting for journalists, and multiple journalists were arrested at protests in Ferguson, Mo. six years ago.

+ Related: What news coverage does — and doesn’t — show in coverage of demonstrations (Vox)


How Pop-Up Magazine pivoted from events to video (Digiday)

Pop-Up is “a live rendition of a magazine,” made up of 10 stories told by different performers who tour across the country. It adapted to virtual events in a prerecorded YouTube video called “The Spring Issue: At Home.” It’s an online version of the live show, with storytelling, artwork and original music. Pop-Up also has had to shift its approach to revenue. The live show typically included three to four performed ads, but some sponsors couldn’t participate due to cuts to their marketing budgets. Pop-Up instead pursued one exclusive sponsor, Google. Another change is the loss of ticket sales, which Pop-Up plans to bring to future video releases.

+ PBS “Asian Americans” producer on why learning racial history matters more than ever (WBEZ)