Need to Know: May 4, 2021


You might have heard: Colorado Community Media bought multiple Denver-area papers (The Colorado Independent)

But did you know: In Denver, civic-minded Colorado Sun acquires suburban newspaper chain (NPR)

The Colorado Sun, a news site started by former employees of The Denver Post, has announced it will purchase a family-owned chain of 24 newspapers in the Denver area. The acquisition is a partnership with the newly formed National Trust for Local News, which is working to find viable business strategies for hyperlocal news coverage. The sun will guide editorial coverage for the papers, which will be run under the banner of the Colorado News Conservancy. The chain was previously owned by Jerry and Ann Healey, the owners and publishers of Colorado Community Media. 

+ Noted: ESPN’s Kevin Merida named L.A. Times executive editor (The Los Angeles Times); Verizon sells media businesses including Yahoo and AOL to Apollo for $5 billion (CNBC); Twitter launches national ad campaign to boost local news (Axios) 


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How newsrooms around the world are reaching people (Columbia Journalism Review)

As physical newspapers have declined, news outlets have gotten more creative about distributing their work. As part of CJR’s Existential Issue, Savannah Jacobson and Julie Murphy offer a visual guide to various methods of audience engagement. Some outlets are using direct messaging services like WhatApp and texting to reach readers, while others have developed followings on internet forums like Reddit and Weibo. Outlets have experimented with new interactive platforms like Twitch and OnlyFans and social media giants like Instagram and TikTok. And before the pandemic hit, many newsrooms had turned to in-person traditions like bulletin boards and community forums.  


Female journalists around the world face escalating violence online (The Washington Post) 

A new study from UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists, commissioned to mark World Press Freedom Day, has found that attacks against female journalists around the world have increased exponentially. Maria Ressa and Julie Posetti write that virtual violence against Ressa has bled into real life threats, as well as creating an environment for the Philippine government’s cyber-libel charges against her. The study found that more than 40 percent of female journalists said they’d been targeted as part of an organized disinformation campaign, and 20 percent had been targeted offline in connection with online violence. 


Behind The COVID Tracking Project’s public help desk (The COVID Tracking Project)

Last May, The COVID Tracking Project added a contact form, allowing readers to write in with questions or to express concerns over the data. Over the course of the year, the project updated its methods of contact several times to be more accurate, offered more upfront resources for curious readers and experimented with new tools that allowed inquiries to be vetted more quickly by the right people. It also changed its strategy for replying to emails; a majority of the early requests were related to data issues, many of which were complex and only answerable by team leads. This led to a rotating team of repliers who forwarded emails to the correct people and various team members taking shifts whenever they had time. The average response to messages was less than 24 hours, and the text used in response to questions was often adapted into public-facing FAQs for the website. 


Not just ‘elected officials and policy experts’: Top editors are trying to refocus the opinion pages on regular people (Nieman Lab) 

At a recent panel hosted by The International Symposium on Online Journalism, opinion editors from The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times discussed the move towards more diverse voices on the opinion pages. Referring to certain type of educated and well-heeled contributors — variously known as “professors,” “the interpreter class” and “think tankers” — the editors said the goal was to move away from just publishing such “name” writers. Sewell Chan of the Los Angeles Times said the paper is looking to include “real voices of people’s authentic, lived experiences,” while Karen Attiah of The Washington Post who said she was pushing to have opinion pieces about foreign countries written by people living in those places. 

+ Earlier: API’s collection of essays on how opinion journalism is being reinvented at McClatchy, The Tennessean and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Why your favorite new NPR show might sound a lot like a podcast (The Washington Post) 

As NPR celebrates its 50-year anniversary, Elahe Izadi writes that the programming on NPR stations is now more likely to have started life in the podcasting world. For creators, starting out as a podcast is often a way to delve into an underexplored subject matter and build a following. These podcasts, such as the popular “Code Switch,” then have a strong foundation and point of view before they make the move to public radio. Once they’re featured on NPR stations, the shows have the opportunity to find a new audience who may not otherwise have sought out the show. NPR’s radio listenership tends older and whiter, while its podcast listeners more closely resemble the country’s demographics.