Need to Know: September 12, 2023


You might have heard: Philanthropies pledge $500 million to address crisis in local news (The New York Times) 

But did you know: The Press Forward multiplier effect (Nieman Reports) 

The $500 million pledged to local news as part of Press Forward “is by far the largest coordinated philanthropic effort to support local news,” writes Jim Friedlich, CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. But that money alone will not be enough to turn the tide in favor of local journalism; instead, he hopes that it will create a multiplier effect that will draw in more money and support over the years. He says he hopes to see policy initiatives, the scaling of infrastructure and an increase in local investment as a result of this pledge.

+ Noted: Associated Press warns that AP Stylebook data breach led to phishing attack (Bleeping Computer) 


Join us to explore mental health solutions for journalists 

The American Press Institute will host its next API Local News Summit on helping news leaders prioritize and support their journalists’ mental health. If you have ideas about how news leaders can support their staff’s mental health or solutions to change the often-toxic cultures of the news industry — and especially if you are working on this yourself — we’d like to extend this call for participation in our summit. 

This summit, scheduled for Oct. 10-11 to coincide with World Mental Health Day, will gather approximately 60 media leaders and non-journalism experts in Atlanta. We are open to people with various responsibilities and titles from for-profit and nonprofit media of all platforms. Request an invitation for the remaining spots at our summit no later than Sunday, September 17, at 11:59 p.m. ET. 


How to keep evolving when our industry never stops changing

API’s Stephen Jefferson reflects on lessons learned at the Online News Association’s conference this year: ONA23 helped me see how our comfort to sit down with and reflect on “change” is improving, but more intentional and open conversations are needed. A Table Talk titled “How To Keep Evolving When Our Industry Never Stops Changing” was overflowing with attendees who enthusiastically shared how their organizations were handling change. 

What surprised me was the stark difference of this compared to a workshop I hosted ten months ago. Back then, I recall probing the question, “What do you see changing in your organization?” but found how difficult it was for attendees to discuss on the spot. I even noted how other speeches that encountered ‘change’ or ‘adaptability’ would hesitatingly skip over it because “it’s self-explanatory.” ONA showed me how these hard conversations can be more productive yet how our realization of change is still just beginning.


Building a chatbot trained on your newsroom’s content (Reynolds Journalism Institute) 

Newsrooms are beginning to experiment with AI chatbots trained exclusively on their own content. The main goals are that the bot will not spread misinformation or out of context information and that the platform will be useful to readers and easy to integrate into the newsroom’s workflow. Queen City Nerve in Charlotte, North Carolina began by launching a test chatbot in Slack and discovered that the bot didn’t always provide enough context on answers — but it did know to say “I don’t know” rather than make up false information. This inspired the team to develop a prompt guide to help readers understand how to best interact with their chatbot once it goes live. 


UK government-led task force launched to protect journalism from SLAPPs (Press Gazette) 

The British government is launching a task force to crack down on the growing number of SLAPP lawsuits in the country. Many of these lawsuits have been brought by foreign oligarchs against British journalists. The goal of the task force will be to commission research on the prevalence of SLAPPs, create training documents for judges and lawyers to help them recognize SLAPPs, and provide guidance for journalists and media organizations. 


Twitter appears to throttle New York Times (Semafor) 

X, the social media platform previously called Twitter, appears to be limiting its users’ access to The New York Times. Engagement on Times links had dropped dramatically since July, while links to CNN, the Washington Post and the BBC have not been affected. Engagement for the Times on other platforms like Facebook has not been affected. X has not remarked on the change, but earlier this summer, owner Elon Musk called the paper a “declining, once-powerful, but fundamentally doomed to be regional & increasingly archaic legacy publication.”

+ Related: Musk’s X sues to block California anti-hate speech law (Bloomberg); X caught running unlabeled ads in users’ Following feeds (TechCrunch); Bots on X worse than ever according to analysis of 1m tweets during first Republican primary debate (The Guardian); Can <3s change minds? How social media influences public opinion and news circulation (Nieman Lab); ‘I log into a torture chamber each day’: The strain of moderating social media (The Guardian)  


A journalist’s very personal project helps guide family members who’ve lost loved ones to violence (Poynter) 

When Justin Baxley’s father was murdered in 2017, he didn’t speak to the media about it. But now, he’s created More Than A Number, a project that helps local media outlets connect with families of homicide victims in a humane way. The project focuses on helping grieving families set their own timeline over when and how much they will share with the media, and includes a Victim’s Resource Guide that includes information on funeral arrangements, counseling and clean-up services.