Need to Know: Thursday, May 25, 2023


You might have heard: Despite DEI promises, media companies are still mostly hiring white people (Digiday)

But did you know: What happened to journalism’s racial reckoning? (Word in Black)

Anissa Durham set out to interview Black journalists in white-owned newsrooms about the promises news organizations made following George Floyd’s murder, but most reporters declined to comment on the record for fear of retaliation. The experience prompted her to instead explore how Black-led newsrooms are supporting each other — and what white-led newsrooms can learn from them. Diversifying editorial staffs and having DEI initiatives led by reporters of color has not been enough, she writes. There needs to be room for the ideas and experiences of marginalized reporters, paired with the ability to represent themselves and control the narrative. 

+ Noted: The Times reaches a contract deal with its newsroom union (The New York Times); A news editor quit The Messenger days before launch: ‘That’s not journalism’ (The Daily Beast)


Navigating burnout as a journalist 

Following more than a decade of layoffs and consolidation in the local news industry, 70% of journalists have experienced work-related burnout, according to a recent survey. API’s Sam Ragland recently held a session on reassessing and repairing journalists’ relationships with work. Ragland offers a “starter pack” for journalists to begin addressing burnout, including exercises to help you begin self-prescribing a specific remedy for burnout and offer a chance to give yourself permission: to delay a meeting, to eat lunch, to take a walk. She also offers ways for newsroom managers to begin shifting the culture of their organization to address burnout.

The power of listening: How Louisville Public Media shifted from making news about Black people to making it for and with them (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Understand your opportunities for audience growth through research, experimentation and listening. Change your reporting process to focus more on making news for and with local Black communities instead of just about them. Louisville Public Media had been doing internal work to serve Black and brown communities when Breonna Taylor was killed in 2020. This pushed LPM to shift its diversity work more externally, including holding focus groups with Black residents to understand their news consumption habits. They learned that these residents weren’t familiar with LPM and got their news from Facebook and preferred video content. LPM was able to create targeted content for these audiences and continues to work towards building relationships and closing equity gaps.

5 things to know about Louisville Public Media’s initiative to build trust in the Black community (Better News)

Learn how to build trust in the Black community by conducting extensive research, creating products and content that serve this audience, and showing up for the community. Louisville Public Media is working to better serve Black and Latino communities by conducting extensive research on news consumption habits, which supported a greater effort within the newsroom to produce video content. They invested in community engagement to address residents’ mistrust, and prioritized community listening. LPM found success in its digital voter guide, as well.


How subscriber-only newsletters help The New York Times boost retention (WAN-IFRA)

The New York Times offers around 100 newsletters, including 22 subscriber-only newsletters which it started offering in 2021. Paige Collins, senior product manager at The Times, said these newsletters are set apart from free newsletters by adding value in the reader’s inbox instead of linking out, giving readers a deep dive on a niche topic or lending a strong editorial voice, and fostering conversations between writers and readers. More than a year later, readers who receive at least one subscriber-only newsletter are much more likely to retain their subscription than readers who receive free newsletters, she said.


The gender beat. How reporting has evolved and what is still missing (Editor & Publisher)

The concept of a “gender beat” started a decade ago but may have outgrown itself, according to journalist Meg Heckman. Today, the idea of a gender beat is too broad for the topics it tends to address: women’s health, trans health, reproductive rights, investigations into sexual misconduct, LGBTQ+ coverage and much more. Additionally, topics historically associated with women such as childcare and education often became part of the gender beat, Heckman found, and topics that have historically been gender-based issues are impacting all people today. However, Heckman thinks a gender beat is still important until these topics are incorporated into other newsroom beats, especially for newsrooms that lack this type of focused coverage.


Swiss government favors compensation for journalistic ‘snippets’ posted by online services (The Associated Press)

Switzerland’s executive body is considering legislation that would improve compensation for journalists by requiring social media platforms and search engines to pay media companies for use of their content, even article previews or small excerpts. These snippets are not currently protected under copyright law. The proposed legislation would require large online services — those that annually draw at least 10 percent of Switzerland’s population — to compensate media companies for the use of snippets. 


As staff shield Feinstein from the press, a picture really is worth a thousand words (The Los Angeles Times)

​​Kent Nishimura, a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times based in Washington, D.C., writes about the cat-and-mouse game of photographing legislators — and how Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her staff have upped the game. Feinstein’s return to the Capitol following her bout with shingles and other medical complications was largely documented by photos that raised eyebrows and questions about her ability to serve. Nishimura and his colleagues have been given even less access to Feinstein after her office requested security keep the press away from her.


He was a journalist covering education. What he saw made him switch professions. (NPR)

Cameron Fields was a reporter working on a project called Cleveland’s Promise that focuses on telling the stories of young students. Fields was stationed at an elementary school as a part of the project, and soon realized that working with the students and community at the school was rewarding. His reporting emphasized that living in one of the poorest big cities in the country meant that students faced social and emotional challenges. The decision to make the switch from journalist to teacher was challenging, he said, but he wanted to serve as a role model and help nurture the students — Black male teachers make up less than 2% of teachers in the United States.