Last week, hundreds of journalists signed a letter protesting the news media’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza war, as well as condemning Israel’s killing of journalists. Since the war started, journalists’ public-facing statements about the war have led to firings and several high-profile resignations, and policies that restrict the types of posts that journalists can engage with online. In The New Yorker, Jay Caspian Kang argued that instead of cracking down on “divisive” statements from journalists, newsroom leaders need to embrace the idea of “a robust and healthy discourse where the totality of disagreements lead somewhere toward the truth.” (The Washington Post, Literary Hub, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker)


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week.

How The Guardian designed its thoughtful new long-form mag. The publication was inspired by readers’ requests to read long, immersive pieces in print, without the distractions of screens. (It’s Nice That)

How audiences around the world engage with climate change news. 55% of people access climate news on a weekly basis, including roughly 50% of Americans. But 22% say they actively avoid news about climate change. (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)

Where local news is scarce — and why it matters. Rural areas are the most lacking in local news — more than 200 counties are news deserts with no local newspaper at all. (American Communities Project)


Tell API and AP how to support your election coverage

The American Press Institute and The Associated Press want to support your 2024 election coverage. Read about our collaboration, and take this 4-minute survey to help us better support you.

How The Sumter Item uses short-form storytelling across platforms to reach Gen Z (Better News)

The Sumter Item is the only local news source for three counties in rural South Carolina, and it wanted to engage younger readers beyond its high school sports coverage. The Item held community feedback sessions where they focused on Gen Z audiences and their lack of engagement with The Item, local news and their community. The editorial team decided to cover students’ academic achievements like they do high school sports — with video, print and digital storytelling. Gen Z audiences engage most with the videos. The Item plans on turning the series into a platform that includes roundtable discussions, merchandise, student-created content and awards shows.

+ Failing forward with audience engagement: Lessons from three newsrooms’ missteps(Better News)

Trust Tip: Explain what sets your coverage apart with your “About Us” page (Trusting News)

AfroLA, a startup in Los Angeles, recently published a new “About Us” page that succinctly and effectively shares the news organization’s goals and mission — and importantly, how their coverage will be different. At the top of the About page, there is a section titled “What sets AfroLA apart.” It dives into the approach and mission of their coverage.

In this section, they get really clear about their coverage goals and explain how they aim to cover the Black community in LA differently than other news organizations. They also use a quick bullet point list to share what kind of news you can expect to see from them (and what news you WON’T see from them).

Explaining what stories you expect to cover helps users understand what to expect and what not to. This can prevent them from making assumptions (which, remember, are most likely to be negative) about why they are seeing some stories covered and not others.

Live events series sprint for Table Stakes alumni

Applications are open for API’s sprint cohort for Table Stakes alumni on creating a live event series.

The event series sprint, beginning in January 2024, will help participating news organizations launch a three-event series and develop their own playbook for in-person newsroom-led events.

Cross-department teams of 3 to 5 will work to plan, promote and hold a series of three journalism-focused events. Teams will receive expert guidance from guest instructors and a dedicated coach, as well as the API Table Stakes team.

By the end of the program, participants will have held at least one in-person event that can be considered a prototype for future events in a three-part series. Participating organizations may apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to support their events. Apply for the cohort by December 4.

SPECIAL EDITION: Plan for Local 2024

Each Monday, Need to Know shares a special edition series focusing on top issues impacting today’s newsrooms. In Plan for Local 2024. Kevin Loker, director of strategic partnerships and research, helps you take stock of your 2023 local election coverage — what worked well and what didn’t — to support your planning for 2024. We aim to help you take notes now to strengthen your engagement and audience work ahead of next November.

Let a mission statement guide your work

Newsrooms have finite resources and news leaders must decide what reporting and initiatives they focus on. You can’t do everything. But you do want a plan. A North Star. Something that grounds your decision-making and helps you internally make choices — and helps your community expect consistency, too.

+ We compiled this list of questions to bring to your 2023 election coverage retrospective. It includes thinking about how your news organization stood out from others in your area; whether the scope of your coverage was clear to your community (and you); and whether you have a mission statement to guide this.

+ Mission statements help guide decision-making about resources, help the community know what to expect and inform how you engage them.


+ Instead of Taylor Swift beat reporters, we need Nextdoor beat reporters (Poynter)

+ Karen Rundlet of the Knight Foundation on how funders view collaborative journalism (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)

+ At 20, Teen Vogue knows its readers contain multitudes (Poynter)

+ Why your weather forecasts may soon become more accurate (The Washington Post)