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TFCN Fact-check: Did NASA send a woman to space with 100 tampons?

 Sally Ride is most remembered for being the first American woman to go to space, breaking boundaries and stereotypes with her diligence and intelligence. But according to a now-viral YouTube video, her journey to space also included …100 tampons. Comedian Marcia Belsky went viral across social media for her musical retelling of a time […]

The post TFCN Fact-check: Did NASA send a woman to space with 100 tampons? appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 22, 2021, 8:53 pm

A White House correspondent charts the changing of the guard

Shirish Dáte had a front row seat to the chaos of Trump’s presidency and famously asked Trump whether he regretted having lied so many times to the American people. Dáte was also in attendance at the first, radically different press briefing on inauguration day. On this week’s Kicker, Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of CJR, […]
Posted: January 22, 2021, 4:49 pm

CNN public editor: It’s time to end the panel discussion format

This month we witnessed a violent rampage at the US Capitol. In the middle of the insurrection, CNN decided a political panel was the best means of following the unfolding catastrophe. As members of Congress were on lockdown, Anderson Cooper held court with political analysts Rick Santorum, David Axelrod, and Van Jones. They talked past […]
Posted: January 22, 2021, 4:00 pm

The journalists and colleagues we’ve lost to the coronavirus

Please check Press Emblem Campaign’s list for the latest updates.  How can we understand loss on the scale we’re now experiencing? Worldwide, more than 530,000 people have died, according to The New York Times, with more than 130,000 deaths in the U.S. Those numbers will keep changing. We’ll keep updating them. They’ll still be hard […]

The post The journalists and colleagues we’ve lost to the coronavirus appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 22, 2021, 3:01 pm

Facebook asks its new oversight board to rule on banning Trump

More than three years after the idea was first floated by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s “oversight board” started hearing its first cases last month. Whatever the outcomes, those cases have been overshadowed by an announcement on Thursday that Facebook has sought the right to permanently banish Donald Trump. An initial ban had gone into effect on […]
Posted: January 22, 2021, 1:01 pm

Jen Psaki’s White House press conferences feel like ‘a return to normalcy.’ But let’s be careful.

Think about the White House press secretaries since the start of the Trump administration. There was Sean Spicer, who got off to a mess of a start on Day One, lying about the attendance at the inauguration. (Kellyanne Conway said he was using “alternative facts.”) Spicer came out of the gate so angry that he […]

The post Jen Psaki’s White House press conferences feel like ‘a return to normalcy.’ But let’s be careful. appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 22, 2021, 12:45 pm

Trump is gone, Biden is here. What happens now?

The one question I’ve gotten, by far, more than any other since the election is: How will the media cover Donald Trump when he is no longer president? Actually, that question really asks this question: Should the media cover Donald Trump now that he is no longer president? He’s no longer president, so he technically […]

The post Trump is gone, Biden is here. What happens now? appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 22, 2021, 12:30 pm

Biden and Fauci: One million shots a day ‘starts today’

Covering COVID-19 is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists, written by senior faculty Al Tompkins. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he asked all Americans to wear a mask for […]

The post Biden and Fauci: One million shots a day ‘starts today’ appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 22, 2021, 11:00 am

Inauguration Day front pages had a chance to break ground. Most didn’t.

Presidential inaugurations are historic, and newspaper front pages have traditionally been a keepsake of the occasion. The pressure is even higher than normal for all the newsroom stakeholders involved in the final decision: How do our visual choices reflect all the significance of the day? Many papers opted for a traditional swearing-in photo, with varying […]

The post Inauguration Day front pages had a chance to break ground. Most didn’t. appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 21, 2021, 7:54 pm

IFCN is heartened by a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the work of the global fact-checking community

It’s with great honor and humility that the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), at the Poynter Institute, learned today that it has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement was made by Norwegian lawmaker from the Venstre party and former Minister of Culture and Education, Trine Skei Grande. While we recognize that this […]

The post IFCN is heartened by a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the work of the global fact-checking community appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 21, 2021, 7:00 pm

Unity, hope and history on newspaper front pages after Biden’s inauguration

Front pages around the world captured the sentiment of Wednesday’s inauguration for President Joe Biden with headlines about unity, democracy and the history made with the United States’ first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president, Kamala Harris. Outside the U.S., Switzerland’s Blick led with this: “Make America normal again.” Here’s a look […]

The post Unity, hope and history on newspaper front pages after Biden’s inauguration appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 21, 2021, 3:14 pm

“If voters aren’t listening, then what are we doing here?” A Q&A with Pat Rynard

On January 4, political news site Iowa Starting Line announced it was going on hiatus until further notice. “Good journalism should hold the powerful accountable, but it should do so in reality, not just theory,” Pat Rynard, founder and managing editor, wrote. “And if voters aren’t listening to it, then what are we doing here?” Rynard launched […]
Posted: January 21, 2021, 3:00 pm

How journalists in D.C. made a national story local

On the night of Jan. 5, Dee Dwyer’s 10-year-old daughter had a bad feeling. “I don’t want you to go,” she told her mom, a photojournalist who works with the online news site DCist, about covering former President Donald Trump’s rally. “I always go,” Dwyer replied. “I have a bad feeling.” Dwyer, who often covers […]

The post How journalists in D.C. made a national story local appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 21, 2021, 1:33 pm

Biden’s inauguration and the new abnormal

Early yesterday, then-President Donald Trump vacated the White House and headed to Joint Base Andrews, where he gave a farewell address before flying to Florida. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer wondered aloud if we’d be treated to a final Trump surprise, but the event was predictable, as was the coverage it generated. “The Trump era ends as it begins,” James Poniewozik, TV critic at the New York Times, wrote, “with news networks wall-to-wall showing the empty stage where he’s going to speak.” Every major network carried the whole address live; reporters got in some final digs about the smallness of the crowd; one columnist even hailed the president’s new tone, though there didn’t seem to be much heart in any of it. After he finished speaking, Trump left the stage and boarded Air Force One as “YMCA” blared from the speakers. “Y’know, the first line of that song is, young man, there’s no need to feel down,” Rob Finnerty, a host on the pro-Trump network Newsmax, said on air. “Even though he will not be the president at noon Eastern today, there is no need to feel down.” And then he was gone.

Cut to Joe Biden—first at church, and then at the Capitol. Network talking heads chattered over music (the Marine band, not the Village People) and footage of various dignitaries taking their seats. Trump lingered, despite his absence—on CNN, John King accused him of neglecting the “norms and traditions” that “truly make America great”—while Mike Pence showed up and won some lukewarm plaudits for doing so. Various anchors hailed the “peaceful transfer of power.” With midday approaching, proceedings began and the punditry gave way to bromidic speeches by senators Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt, the latter of whom was, as recently as last month, still refusing to call Biden the president-elect; then, Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice-president, and Biden as president. Major outlets whipped out the banner headlines and unleashed a flood of news alerts on readers’ phones. Online, every journalist felt compelled to note either that Trump was no longer president, or, as it still wasn’t yet midday, that they weren’t yet sure who was technically president. Their tweets jostled for attention with Bernie Sanders memes, and then with a flurry of (deserved) praise for Amanda Gorman, a poet whose recitation instantly went viral; news organizations quickly turned all of this content into more content, further flooding the zone. In his inaugural address, Biden repeatedly stressed the importance of truth. The sun came out, and was quickly pressed into service as a metaphor.

New from CJR: What is Laurene Powell Jobs trying to achieve? 

Less so in the right-wing mediasphere, though there was some generosity of spirit on display. On Fox News, Chris Wallace urged “us in the media” to take to heart Biden’s words on the truth, and called the speech as a whole “the best inaugural address I ever heard”; his colleague Brit Hume called Biden “an amiable, genial man,” and said, “Let’s give him a chance.” Over at FoxNews.com, editors gave Biden a chance with headlines including “Hunter Biden in attendance amid reported suspicious transactions probe,” and “CNN anchors let insults, condemnations fly as Trump leaves the White House”; later, back on the air, Sean Hannity said that Biden was “cognitively struggling,” and Laura Ingraham flashed up chyrons such as “MEDIA & CHINA GIDDY OVER PRESIDENT BIDEN” and “BIDEN’S DIVISIVE POLICIES SACRIFICE OUR FREEDOM.” One America News Network didn’t broadcast the inauguration at all, instead airing a documentary-length program titled Trump: Legacy of a Patriot. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh insisted that Biden and Harris have “not legitimately won” the election.

Even in the reality-based media, it felt as if some of us were struggling to compute that Trump was really gone and Biden was really in. Given the events of two weeks ago, the networks were primed to cover more noisy strife after Biden was sworn in; instead, we got low-key formalities and a rare stretch of silence, as Biden traveled from the Capitol to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath. There was a collective feeling, almost, of Trump withdrawal; as Charlie Warzel, a columnist at the Times, put it, “it is very clear to me right now the extent to which my brain has become extremely conditioned to reading continuous and preposterous news about one man.” Media critics no longer had to write takes about all the unchecked lies in the president’s speech. By the 5pm hour, CNN was rattling breathlessly about the fact that Biden was now in the Oval Office. Reporters were excited to discover that Trump had left Biden a note; one shouted a question about it, but Biden declined to share what Trump wrote, beyond calling it “very generous.” At 7pm, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, convened a televised briefing, and pledged to do so daily going forward. (Though “not Saturdays and Sundays. I’m not a monster.”) The second reporter to be called asked about Trump’s note. Afterward, everyone agreed that Psaki’s professional demeanor was disarmingly normal. Van Jones said that the briefing was “mesmerizing”: “There was a human, and that person said words, and the words made sense, and somebody asked a question, and that person answered.”

Throughout the day and into the evening—either side of a celebratory, ninety-minute special that every major network bar Fox carried live—the themes of normality and unity kept recurring in coverage. NBC’s Chuck Todd called the former “an elixir of sorts”; a CNN correspondent barked “Mr. President, can you unite the country?” as Biden unexpectedly walked past. These focuses were derived from Biden’s own messaging, but neither is entirely in Biden’s gift, and neither is a moral good in and of itself—the pre-Trump status quo, and much media coverage thereof, failed millions of people. It’s now accurate, at least, to say that there’s a “new tone” emanating from the White House, but actions still matter more. At some point, probably soon, pundits will stop seeing Biden’s boringness as refreshing, and start seeing it as boring. Before we get there, let’s drop our obsession with optics, and refocus the extra room that just opened up in our attention spans on the huge challenges that America still faces.

Below, more on the inauguration:

  • Changing of the guard, I: CJR’s Ian Karbal rounds up some significant moves within the White House press corps, including Kaitlan Collins’s promotion to chief White House correspondent at CNN, Ashley Parker’s promotion to White House bureau chief at the Post, and Maggie Haberman’s plans. One correspondent who is staying put is Yamiche Alcindor, of PBS. “It would be great to be able to take a vacation and go out,” she told Karbal, “but we’re living in the middle of a pandemic.”
  • Changing of the guard, II: Michael Pack—the Trump-appointed chief executive of the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees state-backed, yet editorially-independent, broadcasters including Voice of America—resigned yesterday at Biden’s request, leaving a trail of firings, whistleblower complaints, conservative appointments, and other controversies in his wake. Pack—who investigated reporters for their perceived anti-Trump bias, and who moved to obliterate the firewall between management and journalists so that the agency might better “support the foreign policy of the United States”—called his ouster “a partisan act” on Biden’s part. Biden tapped Kelu Chao, a VOA news executive, as Pack’s interim replacement. NPR’s David Folkenflik has more.
  • 1619 v. 1776: Biden also acted yesterday to dissolve the 1776 Commission, a panel of conservative educators that Trump convened to wage culture war on history-teaching generally and the Times’s 1619 Project—which sought to center slavery in the American story, including via resources for schools—in particular. Kevin M. Kruse, a historian at Princeton, warned that despite Biden’s decision, the commission’s legacy will live on; its final report, he wrote, “has the stamp of approval of the White House and will directly or indirectly influence the teaching of American history in large parts of the nation.”
  • No trouble: As I noted in yesterday’s newsletter, major newsrooms provided their reporters with protective gear and special training ahead of the inauguration, given the heightened threat of domestic terrorism, but in the end, no violence came to pass. Andrew McCormick, who covered the inauguration for The Nation, wrote that the streets outside the security perimeter were so quiet that “journalists outnumbered civilians in comic proportion. I listened to one woman, who had traveled from Boise, Idaho, for the inauguration, give interviews to reporters from at least Japan, France, and Romania. (‘Joe Biden is going to unify our country,’ she told them all.)”
  • Snookered Q: Online, many devotees of the QAnon conspiracy theory—which held that Trump would stage a successful inauguration-day coup and stay in power—were upset and confused when it didn’t happen. “Anyone else feeling beyond let down?” one poster asked. “It’s like being a kid and seeing the big gift under the tree thinking it is exactly what you want only to open it and realize it was a lump of coal.” Even Ron Watkins, a major figure in the community, gave up the ghost, advising his followers to “go back to our lives as best we are able.” NBC’s Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny have more.
  • Justice with Judge Jeanine: When Trump’s published his final list of pardons and commutations early yesterday morning, Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host and reliable Trump sycophant, was upset that the president hadn’t included her ex-husband, Albert Pirro, who was convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion in 2000. Per CNN’s Pamela Brown and Caroline Kelly, Jeanine quickly lobbied for Albert to be added, and in the final hours of his presidency, Trump complied—a final spin of the Trump-Fox feedback loop.
  • Going bust: Biden put some personal photos behind his Oval Office desk, next to a bust of the labor leader Cesar Chavez (and not of Eleanor Roosevelt, as the Washington Post erroneously labeled it). Biden reportedly also removed a bust of Winston Churchill. Britain’s right-wing press is taking the news about as well as you’d expect.


Other notable stories:

  • For Business Insider, Steven Perlberg explores what’s next for the Washington Post as Trump departs the White House and Marty Baron prepares to stand down as the paper’s editor. Current and former Post staffers told Perlberg that the paper is in a good financial position—but they have concerns about its ability to move past the Trump story, and say that the newsroom has yet to fully resolve internal tensions over race and diversity. According to Perlberg, some staffers “watched with envy” as Times journalists took a public stand against their opinion editor, James Bennet, last year, leading him to resign.
  • In December, an attorney for Dominion Voting Systems, an election-tech company that was repeatedly smeared by Trump-allied conspiracists, wrote to leaders of One America News, which spread the smears, threatening legal action; in response, OAN doubled down, demanding that Dominion retain documents linked to Venezuela and George Soros. According to Business Insider’s Jacob Shamsian, however, OAN’s website has since quietly deleted articles about Dominion and Trump’s election lies generally, without disclosing any retractions. (ICYMI last year, Andrew McCormick profiled OAN.)
  • Stephanie Edgerly, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill school of journalism, surveyed over a thousand US media workers in an effort to gauge industry views on election coverage. While strong majorities of respondents thought coverage of the Biden and Trump campaigns was fair, nearly two-thirds of respondents thought that the press was over-reliant on opinion polls. A similar proportion agreed that polls can themselves drive voting behavior, and a majority agreed (in a poll) that polls are “unreliable.”
  • Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley investment firm, is launching an online opinion page that will publish “unapologetically pro-tech, pro-future, pro-change” content. The move comes “amid growing tension between prominent venture capitalists and the news media,” The Information’s Zoë Bernard reports. Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, has “privately expressed antipathy” toward the media, and “has been known to block members of the tech press from viewing his tweets.”
  • In press-freedom news, military authorities in Somalia arrested Kilwe Adan Farah, who runs a news outlet via Facebook, and accused him of murder; if convicted, he could face a death sentence. A local press group believes that the allegations are fabricated. Elsewhere, Egypt arrested two freelance reporters, Hamdi al-Zaeem and Ahmed Khalifa, on terrorism charges. The Committee to Protect Journalists has more on both stories.
  • In France, the cartoonist Xavier Gorce said he would stop working for Le Monde after the paper publicly apologized for running a cartoon that he drew satirizing incest, which is currently the subject of a national reckoning following allegations against a political commentator. Critics said the cartoon was offensive and transphobic; Gorce said it was misunderstood, and that his editorial freedom “cannot be negotiated.” AFP has more.
  • And The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood is under fire for calling Trump “the political equivalent of the Insane Clown Posse,” a reference to a rap duo with fans known as Juggalos. Taylor Lorenz, of the Times, wrote that Juggalos are “notably a very kind, inclusive community.” Violent J, one half of Insane Clown Posse, told HuffPost that Wood’s article “fuckin’ hurts,” and that “sad little bullshit like this makes me question the media.”

ICYMI: A tale of two inaugurations

This post has been updated to correct the misspelling of Amanda Gorman’s name.

Posted: January 21, 2021, 1:01 pm

What we can learn from the language of President Biden’s inauguration

This essay is co-published with our friends at Nieman Storyboard.  The inauguration of Joe Biden brought America lessons on the relationship between good language and good government. A minute did not pass during the inauguration without some form of poetry being expressed. It came from the lyrics of sacred songs and anthems, sung in a […]

The post What we can learn from the language of President Biden’s inauguration appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: January 21, 2021, 1:00 pm

Benevolent Haze

With the Emerson Collective, Laurene Powell Jobs is becoming a force in American media. What is she trying to achieve?
Posted: January 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Trump press corps prepares for a new era

As the Trump administration ends, and the Biden administration begins, major news networks and outlets are shaking up their White House reporting staff. At the New York Times, Maggie Haberman will be stepping down from her role as White House correspondent to write a book about the Trump presidency. She will continue covering politics. The […]
Posted: January 20, 2021, 4:47 pm

A tale of two inaugurations

Four years and a day ago, I boarded a bus with what felt like half of my journalism school class and traveled to Washington, DC, for the inauguration of Donald Trump and the Women’s March the day after. I’d arranged to cover the events for Pacifica radio and ended up writing a short dispatch for my hometown paper back in the UK—my first “real” bylines. I woke up early for the inauguration, anticipating a long wait to get onto the Mall, but the line was relatively short and there was plenty of space inside to rove around and interview Trump supporters. (So much for the biggest inaugural crowd ever.) I spoke to the Naked Cowboy, and to young families and kids on school trips; I steered clear of a group chanting “Lock Her Up,” but never felt threatened myself. “I think it’s kind of ridiculous not to go to the inauguration,” a student wearing a Hillary Clinton lapel pin told me, when I asked him why he was there. “It’s a testament to American democracy to have one president leave peacefully and another come in.” The sentiment—and the number of friendly, first-time political participants I spoke with, at the inauguration as well as the Women’s March—stuck with me. Despite my initial “sense of foreboding,” I wrote in my dispatch, the proceedings “may, just, have buttressed the foundations of a shaking democracy.”

Today, Joe Biden will be sworn in as president, and there will be no crowd on the Mall—the consequence of a deadly viral pandemic that his predecessor refused to try to tame, and an attempted coup that his predecessor encouraged. Reporters will not be strolling around town unencumbered, recording vox pops. Due to the violence—both general and targeted at members of the press, specifically—during the insurrection and the threat of the same today, various newsrooms have provided their reporters with gas masks, helmets, and body armor; they’ll report in teams for added safety, and some will travel with assigned security guards. Yesterday, Capitol Police told reporters that they would not be allowed to enter the secure area surrounding the Capitol while wearing their protective gear; in response, news organizations wrote to the Secret Service urging a rethink, or at least further clarity. As the New York Times reports, several outlets have assigned journalists with combat experience to cover the inauguration. (The Nation is sending Andrew McCormick, a military veteran and recent CJR fellow.) Press groups have issued advisories warning reporters of potential threats, including aggressive policing, arson, and the potential for a vehicle attack on an assembled crowd.

New from CJR: The daily grotesque

The contrast between the threats of today and the calm of inaugurations past has been held up, by some, as a neat metaphor for the damage the Trump era has wrought, both on the press and the country as a whole. Such yardsticks can indeed be useful points of comparison. Still, while they may mark the messy rush of history, they don’t always structure it—and Trump’s presidency clearly cannot be seen as a straight line from harmony to discord. This week, I listened back to my reporting from Trump’s inauguration, and it hit me with a contradictory mix of emotions and questions. I felt proud that I’d produced coherent audio with no professional experience, but also cringed at framing that channeled various tropes I’ve since come to hate: the invocation of “America’s divisions” as an actor in their own right; the whiff of bothsidesism; the general optimistic tone, which now comes across as complacent. To what extent was the latter attributable to my youthful naïveté, or my white privilege, or my Britishness? To what extent was it inherited from the canons of conventional political journalism that I aspired back then to emulate?

Most difficult of all to answer: to what extent was I actually wrong? There’s no question I had blindspots back then, and still do, but I don’t remember feeling complacent about the dangers Trump posed at the time. (Then again, I find that it’s hard to recall exactly how I felt without the weight of everything that has happened since crowding my memories.) The excitement I heard from children attending the Women’s March was exhilarating; the Trump supporters I asked for interviews were generally friendly and happy to talk to me; the peaceful transition was a relief. It’s tempting to now view all this as a lie: in 2017, Trump and his most militant supporters were assuming institutional power without the need for violence; wasn’t it inevitable that they would deploy it when their grip on power was threatened? Perhaps. But history does not proceed on the principle of inevitability, and the last four years have been marked by a series of inflection points at which Trump and his many enablers could have chosen differently and steered America off its present path. Inevitability can obscure accountability.

At the same time, we know that the fundamental nature of Trump the man hasn’t changed. There’s a broader lesson for the press in this. To the extent reporters have erred in covering this presidency, it hasn’t exactly been in any failure to predict the specific tumult of its climax; prognostication is not our job. Rather, the failure came in insufficient honesty about all the threats to democracy that were already apparent; in the relentless optimism, among many influential journalists, that meaningless fluctuations in Trump’s public behavior constituted a “pivot,” a “change of tone,” or newly “presidential” conduct; in the insistence that old-school journalistic practices—crafted by older white men and policed primarily by political good faith—would be enough to hold a reliably faithless president and his co-partisans to account. As my CJR colleague Pete Vernon and I wrote in a recent, detailed critique of Trump coverage, the basic rhythms of our industry have “conspired, time and again, to downplay demagoguery, let Trump and his defenders off the hook, and drain resources and attention from crucial longer-term storylines.” The challenge, as I wrote last week, is to let the shock of this moment shake loose our old bad habits.

Thinking back to Trump’s inauguration, it struck me, too, how strange it is that this period would prove to be the launchpad for my journalism career; for all that my perspective has changed and broadened these past four years, I do not know what it is like to write professionally about a president who isn’t Trump. Clearly, I’m not alone in that. As time goes on, will those of us who cut our teeth in this era stay linked by a common journalistic sensibility? If so, will we prove a force for change in an industry that needs it? Or will its legacy—its trauma, even—be messier than that? (It’s not healthy to have to cover any event from behind a bulletproof vest.) As with all the questions swirling in my head this week, the answer may be all the above.

Below, more on the inauguration:


Other notable stories:

  • For CJR, Caitlin L. Chandler has the story of a German HIV doctor who was accused of a decades-long pattern of abuse, then appealed to the country’s courts to have reporting on the allegations scrubbed from the internet. “In criminal trials, German law presumes innocence unless a guilty verdict is handed down by a judge,” Chandler writes. “This is similar to the US legal system; however, in Germany, the presumption of innocence is also applied to press coverage. While the media is allowed to report on criminal trials… the law protects suspects from media coverage deemed to stigmatize them unfairly before a verdict is reached. For example, the media is rarely allowed to publish photos of someone in custody, unlike the ‘perp walks’ commonly publicized in the US.”
  • On Monday, Bill Sammon, senior vice president and DC managing editor at Fox News, told colleagues of his impending retirement; then, yesterday, the network laid off nearly twenty staffers, including Chris Stirewalt, its political editor. Sammon and Stirewalt were both involved with Fox’s decision desk, which enraged Trump and his supporters when it called Arizona for Biden on election night; the call proved correct, but according to the Post’s Sarah Ellison, Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox, disliked the way it was handled.  The Daily Beast’s Diana Falzone and Lachlan Cartwright report, meanwhile, that the layoffs reflect an “ideological purge” aimed at pivoting Fox’s website “from straight-news reporting to right-wing opinion content.” (A Fox spokesperson said that the network is realigning “its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era.”)
  • In recent months, Facebook has claimed that it stopped steering its users to join political groups—but Leon Yin and Alfred Ng, of The Markup, found that not to be the case. According to data from The Markup’s Citizen Browser project, which pays to access the feeds of a representative panel of users in order to better understand Facebook’s algorithms, the platform continued to recommend such groups, especially to Trump fans.
  • Fischer, of Axios, reports that Forbes is launching a newsletter platform; it will initially host writers with big existing followings, who will split revenue with Forbes in exchange for editorial and salary benefits. The platform will have “more editorial oversight over the selection of newsletters and authors” than Substack, “where content moderation policies are intentionally less strict because writers are paid directly and only by readers.”
  • For CJR, Vernon spoke with Jake Sherman, a former author of Politico’s Playbook newsletter who recently helped launch a new outlet, Punchbowl News, focused on congressional reporting. “I’m not looking for this to be a place where you’re going to get a hate read about how somebody is a horrible person or an evil genius,” Sherman said. “We are writing about power, the exercise of power, and people abusing power.”
  • The New York Mets fired Jared Porter, the team’s general manager, after ESPN obtained unsolicited, explicit messages that he sent to a female reporter in 2016, when he worked for the Chicago Cubs. ESPN first planned to run the story in 2017, but held off after the female reporter expressed fears for her career prospects; she has since left the industry and agreed to share her story anonymously. Mina Kimes and Jeff Passan have more.
  • On Monday, FBI agents arrested Kaveh Afrasiabi—a political scientist who taught at schools including Boston University and worked as a pundit focused on Iran—and charged him with serving as an unregistered foreign agent of the Iranian government, including via his media appearances. Afrasiabi was born in Iran, but became a permanent US resident in the nineteen-eighties. Benjamin Kail has more for MassLive.
  • In her newsletter, Culture Study, Anne Helen Peterson takes issue with a recent Times article that, in her view, amplified alarmist tropes about video games and children’s rising screen time. Peterson spoke with Rachel Kowert, a psychologist who said the article channeled a form of moral panic. Gaming, Kowert said, “can have wide ranging, positive impact on mental well-being,” but when it comes to media coverage, “fear sells.”
  • And for CJR’s podcast, The Kicker, Kyle Pope, our editor and publisher, asked Lesley M. M. Blume, the author of a recent book on the famed New Yorker correspondent John Hersey, what lessons reporters covering the pandemic might draw from Hersey’s work in Hiroshima after it was atom-bombed by the US in 1945. Hersey, Blume said, has “given today’s reporters certain devices to help illustrate the humanity behind the catastrophe.”

ICYMI: The Doctor vs. #MeToo

Update: The reference to Axios‘s story on the Freedom of Information Act has been updated to clarify that the records in question concern FOIA lawsuits.

Posted: January 20, 2021, 1:36 pm

The daily grotesque

Warren Craghead drew the Trump news cycle for four-and-a-half years. Today is his final day.
Posted: January 20, 2021, 1:20 pm

The U.S. asks Australia to reconsider a plan to make Google and Facebook pay for news

The United States — specifically, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative — has come out against the Australian government’s plan to make Google and Facebook pay news publishers for the use of their content on their platforms. Australia, if you need a refresher, is attempting to force the tech giants to negotiate with publishers over...
Posted: January 19, 2021, 5:03 pm

What COVID reporters can learn from Hiroshima

In the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, journalists struggled to cover the devastation in a way that resonated, much as they have with the covid-19 pandemic today. In Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World, Lesley M.M. Blume tells the story of how New Yorker journalist John Hersey cracked […]
Posted: January 19, 2021, 4:32 pm

The enduring allure of conspiracies

The United States of America was founded on a conspiracy theory. In the lead-up to the War of Independence, revolutionaries argued that a tax on tea or stamps is not just a tax, but the opening gambit in a sinister plot of oppression. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were convinced — based on...
Posted: January 19, 2021, 2:28 pm

With Out-of-Pocket, Nikhil Krishnan wants to make the healthcare industry funnier — and easier to understand

To Nikhil Krishnan, healthcare is kind of an uptight industry. He finds that people don’t speak clearly or casually about how things work. That lack of clarity causes a lot of problems for the person on the receiving end, who’s left with meaningless words. While he was an industry analyst for CB Insights, a data...
Posted: January 19, 2021, 2:10 pm

Yes, deepfakes can make people believe in misinformation — but no more than less-hyped ways of lying

For some completely unknowable reason, a lot of people are interested these days in why Americans sometimes get the most damn-fool ideas in their heads about politics. What leads people to believe fantastical claims of imaginary voter fraud, say, or that the Democratic Party is run by a league of Satanic cannibal pedophiles? There’s plenty...
Posted: January 15, 2021, 5:10 pm

Do you know the McMuffin man?

This issue is by Holly Piepenburg and Janelle Salanga with a Q&A from Siri Chilukuri and editing by Curtis Yee. McDonald’s Sausage McMuffins are not the breakfast of champions. They’re the breakfast of white supremacists, according to The Atlantic. Coverage of the insurrection at the Capitol has varied wildly among outlets and reporters, revealing, yet again, the media’s failure to adequately cover the...
Posted: January 15, 2021, 5:05 pm

Axios promises it will never have an opinion section, and more, in an “audience Bill of Rights”

Axios debuted an “audience Bill of Rights” Friday that makes a series of promises to its readers, ranging from “we will never have an opinion section” to “no games” when it comes to data and privacy. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Axios’ first paid product will be teaching corporations — through...
Posted: January 15, 2021, 4:20 pm

A lot of Americans get news from social media, but they don’t expect it to be true

While about half of Americans “sometimes” or “often” get news from social media, they say they remain skeptical about what they’re seeing, according to a new Pew Research Center report on news consumption on social media platforms. During a year full of misinformation, from vaccines to voter fraud, Pew surveyed 9,220 U.S. adults between August...
Posted: January 12, 2021, 6:57 pm

Tiny News Collective aims to launch 500 new local news organizations in three years

Starting a local news organization from scratch is difficult, confusing, and expensive. Reaching sustainability? Even harder. Enter The Tiny News Collective, a new venture from News Catalyst and LION [Local Independent Online News] Publishers. The project will offer entrepreneurial journalists a tech stack, business training, legal assistance, and back-office services like payroll for around $100...
Posted: January 12, 2021, 3:40 pm

Google is giving $3 million to news orgs to fact-check vaccine misinformation

The Google News Initiative announced it will give $3 million to news and fact-checking organizations in an effort to combat misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine. The tech giant previously awarded fact-checking projects $6.5 million in April and $1.5 million in December, so Tuesday’s announcement brings the grand total flowing from their well-stocked coffers to organizations...
Posted: January 12, 2021, 3:36 pm

After the Capitol riots, platforms, archivists, conspiracists, and investigators collide

Some of the entries in our 2021 predictions package proved gloomily prescient this week as a mob stormed the Capitol, incited by Trump’s baseless claims that he won the election. “A lot of America slipped into conspiracy thinking during this pandemic, and they got there from yoga Instagrams and NFL forums and private church choir...
Posted: January 8, 2021, 4:00 pm

Boston.com’s new cocktail club is recreating the city’s bar scene from readers’ homes

Over 110,000 restaurants in the United States have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Massachusetts, where Nieman Lab is based, 49 percent of operators say it’s unlikely that their restaurant will still be in business six months from now if they don’t receive help from the federal government. Fifty-five percent are considering temporarily shutting...
Posted: January 8, 2021, 3:11 pm

The insurrection at the Capitol challenged the way newsrooms frame unrest

The chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday wasn’t typical. Nor was the coverage. Footage carried live by cable news and clips and photos shared across social media were jolting. One image showed a man who had broken into the building sitting in a chair, foot on desk, in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. A video...
Posted: January 8, 2021, 3:00 pm

Publishers expect to pick up the pace of innovation and rely on readers more than advertisers in 2021

Nieman Lab isn’t the only one in the predictions business. (If you missed it, here’s what some of the best and brightest in journalism told us to expect in 2021.) The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has released a lengthy report after surveying 234 media leaders in 43 countries about the next 12 months...
Posted: January 7, 2021, 5:02 pm

Our old models of journalistic impact need to change

The Panama Papers and the process of journalistic impact The notion that journalism is important to democracy because it holds powerful officials accountable to the public is one of those Journalism 101 ideas that’s so familiar that it becomes taken for granted in how journalists think about and justify their work. Of course journalism’s watchdog role is...
Posted: January 7, 2021, 1:30 pm

Bad actors are returning to old-school methods of sowing chaos

As millions of people around the world were under lockdown this year, social media became a lifeline for many. While researchers and journalists were focused on mis- and disinformation flourishing on the main social media platforms, information disruptors returned to old-school methods of sowing chaos and confusion through leaflets, billboards, emails, SMS, and robocalls. The...
Posted: January 7, 2021, 1:15 pm

Why are publishers calling newsletter writers “hosts” and “anchors” now?

The Washington Post announced Monday that Olivier Knox — currently the chief Washington correspondent at SiriusXM — will write The Daily 202, the Post’s flagship daily politics newsletter. James Hohmann, who launched the newsletter in 2015 and will move to the opinion section after Inauguration Day, was the author of The Daily 202. Knox, though, will...
Posted: January 5, 2021, 6:25 pm

Trump’s presidency is ending. Is the reign of Newsmax and OAN just beginning?

There is nothing more beguiling than a lame duck One America News Network (OAN) segment. Everything about it feels slightly ersatz. The anchors sit in dreamlike green screen sets, hair perfectly coiffed, as they update the nation on the proceedings of the biggest crime in American history — namely, Joe Biden’s hijacking of our democratic...
Posted: January 5, 2021, 5:00 pm

In Georgia, Facebook’s changes brought back a partisan News Feed

As Georgians head to the polls to vote on their two U.S. Senators — and effectively, partisan control of Congress — on Tuesday, voters face an online landscape far different from what they saw in the weeks surrounding November’s general election. In the fall, Facebook — by far the most popular social network — clamped...
Posted: January 5, 2021, 4:29 pm

How to reduce the spread of fake news — by doing nothing

When we come across false information on social media, it is only natural to feel the need to call it out or argue with it. But my research suggests this might do more harm than good. It might seem counterintuitive, but the best way to react to fake news — and reduce its impact —...
Posted: January 5, 2021, 1:39 pm

Calling it a crisis isn’t enough (if it ever was)

As 2020 draws to a close, we continue to live through a crisis of epic proportions, both direct and diffuse, global and distinctly local in response. Even as breaking news is declaring that vaccines will shift us out of crisis and into thinking of Covid-19 as a solvable problem, the questions about why, how, and...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

2020 isn’t a black swan — it’s a yellow canary

Some of the early rumblings of change in the global journalism field came in February, when the International Journalism Festival — a favorite on the circuit as much for its quality panels as for its prime location in Perugia, Italy — announced its cancellation. On March 10, NICAR, the preeminent annual gathering of data and...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

Diversity gains haven’t shown up in local news

2020 forced several newsrooms to — finally — reckon with the complaints that journalists of color have lobbed for years: The industry is too white, male, and straight. Our collective failure to recruit, develop, and retain talented journalists who don’t fit into any of the above has resulted in narrow coverage of the world around...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

A sneak peak at power mapping, 2073’s top innovation

Last year for Nieman Lab’s 2020 predictions, I received and published an auspicious article from the future — from the year 2073, to be exact. After revealing that missive, I heard from many journalists and newsroom folk of today that the journalists in the future seem to have discovered inspired answers to many of the...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

Millennials are ready to run things

You love to blame a millennial. We spend too much on fancy toast, we’re up to our eyeballs in debt, and we killed cable TV. (R.I.P.) But it’s time to reevaluate your outlook and attitude toward this generation — we’re next in line to lead all the newsrooms (or however many are left). The oldest...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

Journalism changed under Trump — will it keep changing under Biden?

Journalism, by taking an increasingly oppositional stance toward the Trump administration over the past four years, has begun to transform itself far more fundamentally than any digital technology (blogging, podcasting, the iPhone) ever has. For the past 60 years — the occasional well-publicized in-depth investigation aside — most political reporting in the United States has...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

Journalists still wrongly think the U.S. is different

While I think the last couple of months have added a few more twists and turns as we hurtle to the bottom of the roller coaster I spoke about in 2018, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t foresee how this ride would unfold. For example, take the extent to which the media has...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

The past few years have been tough for journalists. Trained to report objectively on the truth, they have been forced to also defend it. Defending the truth has never been primarily the job of journalists. Every society has its own mechanisms for establishing, reproducing, and accepting its own truths. This is how societies form, organize,...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

Local collaboration is key to slowing misinformation

There are no miraculous buttons you can press that will stop the spread of dangerous misinformation online. No sophisticated tech tools or algorithms transparent enough on their face to save humanity. No fact-checks that are so perfectly constructed they get around our cognitive machinery. But that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. On the contrary, when local...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 9:49 pm

Subscriptions start working for the middle

If media is a cafeteria, there’s no question that this year’s Popular Girl was Substack. It felt like every few weeks, someone new was getting invited to the cool kids’ table to join the likes of Daniel Lavery, Judd Legum, and Emily Atkin to launch their own screamingly profitable personal newsletters. And while much ink...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 7:35 pm

Another year of empty promises on diversity

Have you joined your newsroom’s diversity committee? Are you active in your union? Are you proud of a particular story? Did you write something that you feel accurately reflects the reality of people who have been excluded or misrepresented in American journalism? Personally, while I’m proud of small things like this, it’s the structural problems...
Posted: December 23, 2020, 7:18 pm