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Jelani Cobb on the killing of Daunte Wright, the Derek Chauvin trial, and how to tell the whole story

Reporters were in Minneapolis covering the trial of Derek Chauvin when news broke about the police shooting of Daunte Wright. On this week’s Kicker, Jelani Cobb, a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress,” joins Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of CJR, […]
Posted: April 16, 2021, 7:10 pm

Weighing different paths to funding local news

As discussions on how to help save local news continue, new bills and ideas have come to the fore. Independent newspapers are coalescing around the Local Journalism Sustainability Act which proposes direct subsidies (in the form of tax credits) for news subscribers, local journalists and small business advertisers. Sweden has a similar news subsidy system.  […]
Posted: April 16, 2021, 3:17 pm

A season of turnover

On Wednesday, Kim Godwin, an executive at CBS News, was named as the next president of ABC News, a rival network. She will replace James Goldston, and be the first Black woman to run a broadcast TV news division. As word of Godwin’s move went around, we also learned that Susan Zirinsky, her boss at CBS, would be stepping down. Zirinsky plans to stay at CBS in a production role, but she will be replaced atop the news division by two new hires—Neeraj Khemlani, currently an executive at Hearst Newspapers, and Wendy McMahon, of ABC News. Between them, as the result of an internal restructuring, the two will oversee both news programming and local CBS TV stations. McMahon, who oversaw ABC’s local stations, was reported to have been in contention for the president job there; she and Godwin are now swapping companies. And McMahon was not the only high-profile leader to leave ABC News yesterday: Michael Corn, the senior executive producer of Good Morning America, is also on the way out. Variety described his departure as “abrupt.”

The carousel may have spun especially fast at CBS and ABC this week, but they weren’t outliers in the world of media. In recent months, there has been lots of turnover in journalism’s top jobs. It started in earnest late last year: in December, Norm Pearlstine stepped back as executive editor of the LA Times and into an advisory role, and MSNBC named Rashida Jones as its new president, making her the first Black woman to lead a cable-news network. The same month, Nicholas Thompson left Wired, where he was editor in chief, to become CEO of The Atlantic; he has since been succeeded at Wired (in a slightly redefined role) by Gideon Lichfield, the former top editor at MIT Technology Review.

ICYMI: Many Americans don’t support journalistic values, study says

Then, early this year, Vox named Swati Sharma, managing editor at The Atlantic, as its next editor in chief, replacing Lauren Williams, who left to launch Capital B, a nonprofit outlet aimed at Black audiences. After more than a year without an editor in chief, and following its turbulent takeover by BuzzFeed, HuffPost appointed Danielle Belton, the top editor at The Root, to the position; on Wednesday, The Root replaced Belton with Vanessa De Luca, the former editor in chief of ZORA, a Medium publication that offered all of its editorial staffers a buyout last month. John Simons, a health and science editor at the Wall Street Journal, joined Time as executive editor; David Cho, business editor at the Washington Post, will become editor in chief of Barron’s. The Paris Review named Emily Stokes, formerly of The New Yorker, as its editor; The New Republic appointed Michael Tomasky, of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, atop its masthead. After Lindsay Peoples Wagner, the editor in chief of Teen Vogue, left for New York’s The Cut, Condé Nast planned to replace her with Alexi McCammond, a politics reporter at Axiosbut the hire was swiftly reversed amid concerns over her offensive past tweets and general suitability for the job; last week, Teen Vogue promoted Danielle Kwarteng, its entertainment and culture director, to executive editor. This week, Reuters promoted Alessandra Galloni, a global managing editor, to editor in chief, replacing Stephen J. Adler, who is retiring.

Several major outlets still have leadership vacancies. Rolling Stone has yet to name a permanent replacement for Jason Fine, who stepped down as editor and took a new role at the company in February. The LA Times is still without an executive editor; Patrick Soon-Shiong, the paper’s owner, said recently that the interview process is at an “advanced” stage, and that he has met with most of the candidates. Marty Baron, the editor of the Washington Post, retired at the end of February; it’s unclear exactly how close the paper is to naming a permanent successor, though the names in the frame are said to include a pair of senior editors at the New York Times, Carolyn Ryan and Marc Lacey (who Feven Merid recently profiled for CJR). The Chicago Sun-Times has been without an executive editor since Chris Fusco left last year. Per Poynter, three outlets in Texas are also on the lookout: the Houston Chronicle, where Steve Riley is retiring as executive editor (but staying on for now); the Dallas Morning News, whose executive editor, Mike Wilson, left and became a sports editor at the New York Times; and the Texas Tribune, where Stacy-Marie Ishmael, the editorial director, and Millie Tran, the chief product officer, are stepping down after little more than a year in their respective posts.

Both Ishmael and Tran cited burnout for their decisions; Baron and Wilson also said that their jobs had left them exhausted. “Running a newspaper today is like swimming across a hot fudge river: You gorge yourself on the decadent pleasure of it, but you have to kick like hell to get to the other side,” Wilson wrote, announcing his exit from the Morning News. “So I’m full, and I’m tired.” Yesterday, Megan Greenwell, the editor of Wired’s website, announced that she is leaving her job next week, and said that, like Ishmael and Tran, “I am totally drained.” Scott Rosenfield, Wired’s site director, is also leaving.

There are many reasons for the recent turnover, from the general hellish intensity of the news cycle, to specifically personal factors, to the ongoing industry reckoning with racism and other institutional faults. The upheaval at CBS alone demonstrates this range: Zirinsky had reportedly grown tired of the bureaucratic and managerial demands of her position atop CBS News (according to Page Six, during a recent budget meeting, Zirinsky wrote “I hate my job” on a piece of paper and held it above her head); Peter Dunn, who previously oversaw local CBS stations, was ousted following an LA Times investigation into claims of rampant racism and misogyny on his watch. It’s hard not to see that the collective masthead changes reflect the media industry at a turning point. New editors must juggle the pressures of a treacherous business climate for news; demands, among many staffers and audiences, for greater diversity and equity; and the need for visionary leadership. A source recently told Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo that the Post is looking for a “unicorn”: “an editor of Marty Baron’s stature, but one who has a passport with many more stamps and who is much more in touch with the journalists of tomorrow.” The Post isn’t the only major outlet in need of such a figure.

Below, more on the news business:

  • Another notable appointment: Yesterday, Vox announced that Jamil Smith, formerly a senior writer at Rolling Stone, is joining the site as a senior correspondent. According to a press release, Smith will work across Vox’s website, podcast arm, and video department to “interrogate the biggest problems society faces across politics, race, and culture and bring to light new solutions for creating a more just and equitable society.”
  • A notable paywall: Reuters isn’t just getting a new editor in chief; it is also instituting a paywall for its website, which is currently free to read, as well as a redesign aimed at “professional” audiences. “After registration and a free preview period, a subscription to will cost $34.99 a month, the same as Bloomberg’s digital subscription,” Katie Robertson, of the Times, reports. Josh London, chief marketing officer at Reuters, said that the website is undertaking its “largest digital transformation” in a decade.
  • Substack, I: The newsletter platform Substack will pay thirty journalists one-year stipends to cover local news, Recode’s Peter Kafka reports. The plan is similar to a controversial set of advances that Substack launched to lure high-profile national-level writers, and stems, its founders told Kafka, from “encouraging signs” that the Substack model is already attracting local reporters. (ICYMI, Clio Chang profiled Substack for CJR’s recent magazine on a moment of transition for the press.)
  • Substack, II: Recently, Chea Waters Evans quit as editor of the Charlotte News, in Vermont, after clashing with the publisher. Four prominent, locally-based members of the paper’s board—including Adam Davidson, formerly of the New Yorker, and Christina Asquith, founder of the Fuller Project—quit, too, in solidarity. Now they are launching the Charlotte Bridge, a nonprofit outlet, with Evans as editor, that will initially live on Substack. James Finn, of VTDigger, has more details.
  • Meanwhile, in the UK: Jess Brammar, the editor in chief of HuffPost’s UK edition, announced yesterday that she will leave the site as BuzzFeed, its new owner, plans to implement sweeping cuts to her team. “My role is going along with about half the team,”  she wrote on Twitter. “I was offered a new reduced editor role, running a Huffpost UK without a newsdesk, as part of Buzzfeed’s plan to ‘fast track its path to profitability.’ But news is at the heart of what Huffpost was for me. So I am bowing out.”

Other notable stories:

ICYMI: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause and the media’s role in communicating risk

Posted: April 16, 2021, 12:27 pm

Block Club Chicago offered two versions of the same breaking news story — with and without a horrifying video

Body camera footage showing a Chicago police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo was released on Thursday. Jen Sabella, co-founder and director of strategy of the local nonprofit newsroom Block Club Chicago, watched the video, which shows the boy with his hands up before being shot, and felt sick to her stomach. As a journalist,...
Posted: April 16, 2021, 11:49 am

Why the 1980s were a golden age for the NBA’s press corps

Decades before social media allowed players to control the narrative, the National Basketball Association relied on the press to spread the word of an emerging league and its talented players.  In this excerpt from “From Hang Time to Prime Time: Business, Entertainment, and the Birth of the Modern-day NBA” (Atria Books, $27), author Pete Croatto, […]

The post Why the 1980s were a golden age for the NBA’s press corps appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 16, 2021, 11:45 am

Here are the newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures that happened during the coronavirus pandemic

A version of this article was first published on April 6, 2020. It has been frequently updated and reformatted since. It was last updated on April 16, 2021 It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now. But we have to. Here’s our attempt to collect the layoffs, furloughs, […]

The post Here are the newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures that happened during the coronavirus pandemic appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 16, 2021, 11:33 am

CBS News names a new president and it’s, actually, two people

Figuring out who the heck is running network news this week has turned into a dizzying game of musical chairs. CBS News president Susan Zirinsky is giving up her seat. Her No. 2, Kimberly Godwin, grabbed the big chair at ABC News. That left an opening at CBS News. When the music stopped again on […]

The post CBS News names a new president and it’s, actually, two people appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 16, 2021, 11:30 am

The coronavirus has closed more than 70 local newsrooms across America. And counting.

This story was last updated on April 16, 2021.  In many places, it started with a cut in print days. Furloughs. Layoffs. Just to get through the crisis, newsroom leaders told readers. In some places, none of it was enough. Now, small newsrooms around the country, often more than 100 years old, often the only […]

The post The coronavirus has closed more than 70 local newsrooms across America. And counting. appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 16, 2021, 11:10 am

5,800 fully vaccinated people have gotten breakthrough COVID-19

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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 5,800 Americans who have been fully vaccinated have gotten […]

The post 5,800 fully vaccinated people have gotten breakthrough COVID-19 appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 16, 2021, 10:00 am

How often do police confuse firearms for stun guns?

Two major events are unfolding in Minnesota: the trial of a former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, and protests over the recent fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright. Both cases involved white police officers and Black men. Many people around the country say that Wright’s April 11 shooting in Brooklyn Center, Minn., is […]

The post How often do police confuse firearms for stun guns? appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 16, 2021, 9:55 am

Did a 1950s PSA predict the coronavirus?

A YouTube video claiming to be a public service announcement from the 1950s has gone viral. The video warns of a virus that will break out by the year 2020. But did experts really predict a 2020 virus more than 60 years ago? Here’s how we fact-checked it. Look for evidence When you come across […]

The post Did a 1950s PSA predict the coronavirus? appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 15, 2021, 8:38 pm

Claims that Bill Gates is going to ‘block the sun’ lack context

For years, misinformation about the climate has circulated online. Now, some social media users are claiming that billionaire Bill Gates is planning to spray dust into the atmosphere to “block the sun” as a way to combat global warming. These claims have circulated widely across social media, including YouTube, with some questioning how blocking the […]

The post Claims that Bill Gates is going to ‘block the sun’ lack context appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 15, 2021, 6:42 pm

Who will lead America’s newsrooms?

Some of America’s biggest newsrooms are looking to fill vacancies at the top of their mastheads. As editors announce new career trajectories or retirement plans, the newsrooms they leave  must assemble search committees and polish up job descriptions. Some of the bigger searches have set off waves of media reporting as onlookers try to guess […]

The post Who will lead America’s newsrooms? appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 15, 2021, 6:30 pm

Some personal news: We have a new series on layoffs and the people who left news during the pandemic

Three words — “Some personal news” — might slow your scroll on Twitter. Someone is leaving their job. Someone is starting a new job. Someone got laid off. We saw that one a lot last year. We don’t have solid numbers for the people who left the news, voluntarily or involuntarily, during the pandemic. And […]

The post Some personal news: We have a new series on layoffs and the people who left news during the pandemic appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: April 15, 2021, 6:25 pm

Substack will spend $1 million to support “up to 30” local news writers

Citing the success of publications like The Charlotte Ledger and Toronto’s City Hall Watcher, Substack has announced it will spend $1 million to support a new group of local news writers on the platform. The email newsletter platform joins other tech companies — Google and Facebook most prominently among them — in launching programs to...
Posted: April 15, 2021, 2:36 pm

Would you pay $34.99 a month to get news from That’s their hope

Seven years after scrapping its plans to launch an ambitious consumer-facing product, Reuters Next, Reuters is trying again to expand beyond its wire service roots and make itself more of a news destination for “business professionals.” The price for full access to the previously $0 will be $34.99 per month, after the currently free...
Posted: April 15, 2021, 2:27 pm

Many Americans don’t support journalistic values, study says

Most — if not all — journalists likely share a commitment to a set of journalistic values, including a belief that those in power should be subject to oversight, that transparency is the right approach to important information, that facts are required to get to the truth, that the less powerful deserve a voice, and that revealing the flaws in society helps us to deal with them. But do consumers share a commitment to these values? A study published on Wednesday by the Media Insight Project, a joint venture of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, suggests that many do not, and that this could help explain why there has been a crisis in trust when it comes to mainstream journalism. The authors say their study shows that uneasiness with these core values of journalism crosses ideological boundaries, and the bottom line is that “when journalists say they are just doing their jobs, the problem is many people harbor doubts about what the job should be.”

Only one of the five core journalism values that in the survey was supported by a majority of those who responded—the idea that facts help get us closer to the truth, which was agreed to by 67 percent of those who replied to the survey. Just 29 percent of respondents agreed that the best way to make society better is to highlight its problems. And only 11 percent of those who took the survey fully supported all five of the journalistic values mentioned above. “Rather than distrust toward the media being tied only to the perception of partisan bias,” the study’s authors say, “the problem at the heart of the media trust crisis may be skepticism about the underlying purpose and mission journalists are trying to fulfill.” The debate over trust in news has seemed intractable, the study says, because it involves “journalists believing they are just doing their jobs and critics seeing clear signs of political leaning and the denials of journalists as proof of dishonesty.”

According to the API’s research, people who put more emphasis on authority and loyalty tend to be more skeptical about fundamental journalism principles. These people put a high value on respect for leaders and groups, and according to the study “they worry that some of the things journalists believe in can be intrusive and get in the way of officials doing their jobs. This group would like to see more stories about what works, not just what is going wrong.” In other words, people in this group tend to see journalistic principles as emphasizing the negative and threatening established order. Only 33 percent of the people in this category believe that the news media in general are trustworthy, the study says, and only about 15 percent think the press cares about them, or that the press is morally upstanding. Interestingly, this group is evenly split between political conservatives and moderates, the study says: half said they are Republicans, 30 percent said Democrats, and the remainder identified themselves as political independents.

ICYMI: Daunte Wright, George Floyd, and a renewed focus on police brutality

So what can journalists and media outlets do? The API study recommends they consider reworking stories in order to broaden their appeal to people who belong to multiple groups — those who prefer order and have respect for leaders, those who feel the powerless deserve a voice, and so on. The authors of the research took some basic news stories and rewrote them to emphasize different aspects of the moral attributes in each group, including reworking the lead sentence and headline to emphasize the values of authority or loyalty to the community. In some cases, the authors also added an additional paragraph to the story that emphasized a different moral angle. No facts were changed. The researchers say this editing made some of the stories that were handled this way more appealing to all types of people, and also increased the feeling that the news story was trustworthy, and balanced.

Thinking about these different categories of readers and their moral beliefs could also help media outlets appeal to their readers for financial support, the API study suggests. “To woo subscribers, the media will need to vary its messaging beyond traditional appeals about journalism being a watchdog,” the authors argue. They tested different kinds of messaging in appealing for support for a local news organization. Those who tend to emphasize care for the powerless were more responsive to messages that emphasized the outlet’s commitment to protecting the vulnerable. Those who said they cared more about authority and loyalty seemed to prefer messaging that stressed the organization’s long-term service to the community. “As publishers continue to explore reader revenue as an important part of their sustainability, understanding these and other nuances across the communities they serve may help their pursuits,” the study says.

Here’s more on news and trust:

  • Open mind: “I must confess that my first impulse was to resist these findings. After all, I’ve spent decades with the ideas described above as my lodestar, convinced that journalism serves the public good. And after all, investigative journalism is built on the idea of being society’s watchdog,” writes Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post‘s media columnist, in a piece about the API research. “However, given that trust in the news media has fallen from about 70 percent in the early 1970s to about 40 percent now, according to Gallup — it seems worth viewing this report with an open mind.”
  • Weak trust: A 2017 study from the API that looked at trust in the media found that many Americans were skeptical of the news media in general, but trusted the news sources that they relied on for information about events. “Americans appear to consider the news media as a general category that includes both good and bad actors, and their confidence in the media in general is shrinking,” the study said, but people said they could still find news sources that they thought were “accurate, fair, moral, transparent about mistakes, and trustworthy.” Americans under 40 tended to trust the media far less than older readers.
  • Partisan divide: For its 2020 American Views survey, Gallup and the Knight Foundation polled more than 20,000 US adults and found “continued pessimism and further partisan entrenchment about how the news media delivers on its democratic mandate for factual, trustworthy information,” according to the study. Many Americans, it reported, “feel the media’s critical roles of informing and holding those in power accountable are compromised by increasing bias. As such, Americans have not only lost confidence in the ideal of an objective media, they believe news organizations actively support the partisan divide.”


Other notable stories:

  • Three digital media veterans are launching a new paid subscription media company funded by 40 North Media and private equity giant TPG Growth, according to a report from Axios. The co-founders are Joe Purzycki, co-founder of the podcast company Luminary, Jon Kelly, a former New York Times editor and founder of Vanity Fair’s “The Hive,” and longtime digital media executive and early Athletic employee Max Tcheyan. The company, known as Heat Media, plans to give journalists the technology and marketing support needed to help them build their audiences, and let them share in the subscription revenue.
  • Hong Kong media mogul and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has told the staff of his publication, Apple Daily, to “stand tall” in a letter from prison, days before being sentenced in two of several cases against him. He is in jail on remand after prosecutors successfully appealed against a court decision to grant him bail on national security charges. On Tuesday, Apple Daily published a handwritten letter Lai sent to staff, urging them to take care of themselves. “Freedom of speech is a dangerous job,” he wrote. “Please be careful not to take risks. Your own safety is very important.”
  • Investigative journalist James Risen writes for The Intercept about the ongoing battle between whistleblowers and the journalists who report on their leaks, and the government’s desire to punish them both. And the media doesn’t help, he says. “Press coverage of leak investigations and prosecutions follows a depressingly predictable narrative arc,” Risen writes. “The whistleblower who is a source for a story is depicted as a criminal who has been cornered and arrested by the heroic FBI, while the investigative reporter who broke the story is described as an accessory to a crime. The press unquestioningly plays up any supposed evidence presented by the government that the reporter made mistakes that were somehow the reason for the whistleblower’s arrest and prosecution.”
  • The Marshall Project writes about its decision to avoid terms like inmate and felon when talking about people who are held in correctional facilities. “The words we use to describe people being held in correctional facilities are among the most controversial in journalism,” it says. “Reporters, editors and criminal justice professionals have long assumed that terms such as ‘inmate,’ ‘felon‚’ and ‘offender’ are clear, succinct and neutral. But a vocal segment of people within or directly affected by the criminal justice system argue that these words narrowly — and permanently — define human beings by their crimes and punishments.”
  • Gabby Miller writes for CJR about what the future holds for non-profit newsrooms. “Newsrooms are experimenting with alternatives to business models that disproportionately rely on advertising revenue,” Miller writes. “This model has been seen from Oakland, California to Waterbury, Vermont. However, it’s not clear how much ground the nonprofit news model––which primarily entails philanthropic funding and charitable donations––can make up for in a rapidly shrinking for-profit local news ecosystem in the US. Some experts warn of heightened competition for funding and systemic inequities in philanthropic giving.”
  • Vice said it has removed an article that drew widespread criticism for including photographs of Khmer Rouge victims in Cambodia that had been doctored to show some of the dead smiling. “This story previously included photos from artist Matt Loughrey that were modified beyond colorization,” says a note from the company posted at the story’s original location. “After reviewing this article, and subsequent work from the artist that was featured on VICE and included doctored images of Khmer Rouge victims, this article has been removed because it does not meet our editorial standards. We apologize for the error.”
  • Pipewrench, a new digital magazine, launched this week with a feature essay on the pandemic and race, along with companion pieces by a poet, a biblical scholar, a sociologist, a musician, a public servant, an educator and a journalist. The magazine was co-founded by Michelle Weber, a former senior editor at Longreads, and Catherine Cusick, a digital editor and audience strategist from Austin, Texas. Each issue will consist of a longform story and other pieces either reacting to or related to the same topic, they said. “Expect contributions from film critics, activists, theologians, sociologists, poets, chefs, sportswriters, flash fiction specialists. A rotating group of people from a range of perspectives and disciplines.”
  • The annual White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner has been canceled for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic, the association reported in an email to reporters on Wednesday. “We have worked through any number of scenarios over the last several months, but to put it plainly: while improving rapidly, the COVID-19 landscape is just not at a place where we could make the necessary decisions to go ahead with such a large indoor event,” the association wrote.

ICYMI: After the death of Prince Philip, media mourning in the UK

Posted: April 15, 2021, 11:50 am

Philanthropic support is a small but growing revenue stream for The Guardian, reaching a record-breaking $9M last year

There has been much (understandable!) handwringing over how the pandemic would affect big donor support for news organizations. With all the economic uncertainty, would foundations take a more conservative approach? Would funds get redirected away from journalism to Covid-specific efforts? For one news organization, at least, the answer was a comforting “no.” The Guardian —...
Posted: April 14, 2021, 6:10 pm

With matrimonial ads and shoutouts, Lokal is finding new revenue in staples of Indian media

Over the last few years, the Indian telecom company Jio has made internet access more affordable and available to new users across the country. But much of the internet is designed for an English-speaking audience, Jani Pasha, one of the co-founders of the hyperlocal information app Lokal, told me. That’s why Lokal, an Android app...
Posted: April 14, 2021, 1:27 pm

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause and the media’s role in communicating risk

Early yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the US pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine following reports of blood clotting in six recipients, all of them women aged between eighteen and forty-eight, one of whom has died and another of whom is critically ill. States, businesses, and federal facilities quickly followed the guidance. Around seven million people have received the J&J vaccine in the US; the pause is intended to allow officials and experts to investigate the instances of clotting and whether there are more of them, and to communicate care protocols to doctors, given that typical clotting treatments could, in the type of cases at issue here, prove harmful. Bolstering public confidence is also at issue: a source with knowledge of the deliberations told the Washington Post that officials agreed that “there is a tremendous need for vaccines, but also a tremendous need for trust in the vaccine.”

The latter rationale, in particular, quickly sparked a debate in media circles. Some journalists and experts said that the pause ought to strengthen confidence among vaccine skeptics, by projecting high caution and transparency. Others disagreed. “I appreciate the people saying ‘we should feel *more* confident because they’re investigating,’ which is true—it works on me!” Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist and prolific commentator on the pandemic, wrote on Twitter. “But the word ‘should’ is doing a lot of work there. Meanwhile, let’s check in on how this affects dynamics of human cognition, media, and social media.” On the cognition front, some observers made the case that many members of the public will interpret the pause not as reassuring, but as justification for their skepticism, not only around the J&J vaccine but also the Pfizer and Moderna shots; on the media front, press critics questioned the ability of news organizations to clearly separate the pause from unwarranted broader panic. Some experts argued that officials didn’t have any good communications choices around the clotting issue. Others, including Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, suggested that the agencies erred in allowing “dead time” to elapse between the announcement of the pause and a briefing at which officials worked to contextualize it—a gap in which “the media scrambles for insights but everyone is short on details.”

ICYMI: Daunte Wright, George Floyd, and a renewed focus on police brutality

As the day went on, Nate Silver, of the data-driven news site FiveThirtyEight, observed a split, of sorts: “People in the public health sphere seem to be pretty agnostic on what effect the J&J pause will have on vaccine hesitancy (maybe leaning toward it being a slight positive), while the sentiment of people who cover politics/media is toward it being a clear negative.” Silver, who is in the latter camp, stressed that he could be wrong, but noted that both camps have “relevant expertise,” given “how much COVID is a political/media focal point.” As someone who covers media but has limited public-health expertise, my initial thoughts ran along similar lines to Silver’s. The idea that a pause will boost confidence seems, to me, to assume that skeptics will interpret it, and its attendant nuances, rationally, and not freak out about the alarming signal sent by the decision itself. Transparency is essential, but officials can be transparent about possible issues with a vaccine without suspending it; if anything, the pause recommendation was as much an act of amplification, turning exceedingly rare incidents into a wall-to-wall news story. And as we have seen, for example, with masks, the messaging judgments of health officials are open to question. Ezra Klein, of the New York Times, noted yesterday that “there’s no actual evidence the FDA knows how to manage public psychology correctly on this.”

Then again, I could be wrong. Much of the debate around the pause and vaccine confidence has been rooted in speculative behavioral assumptions that may not play out as we expect, and wrongly imply a uniformity of motivation among vaccine skeptics; plus, as G. Elliott Morris, a data journalist at The Economist, pointed out, “relentlessly tweeting ‘oh my GOD why would the CDC do something so STUPID!!’ is not really the way to convince people who are skeptical of scientists or medical institutions that the vaccine is safe.” It’s possible to go round in circles here; to forget, too, that the science here is complicated and contested, and that public confidence is far from the only reason for the pause. There are a multiplicity of factors to consider, including official reassurances that suspending J&J won’t impede the overall vaccine rollout, and the fact that pauses are common after a new medical product goes on the market.

Still, this isn’t a normal vaccine rollout—it’s universally urgent, and is thus occurring under an intense media spotlight. Some journalists argued yesterday that the messaging around the pause is the responsibility of health officials more than journalists, who, after all, are obliged to cover such interventions. Given the intense spotlight, however, the media is unavoidably a crucial actor in this story, and not just as a passive conduit. Our choices matter. Since COVID vaccines came on line, experts have advised news organizations not to hype stories about very rare potential side effects. Officials acting dramatically on such incidents is, clearly, a very big story. But their actions do not, in themselves, change the underlying available data. So how should we think about reconciling these seemingly contradictory newsworthiness dynamics?

Yesterday, I posed a version of this question on Twitter. Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, advised covering the pause as “a high risk maneuver,” while also pulling in various points of view: “Only multiperspectival reporting gets you there,” he wrote. Katya Zimmer, a science journalist (and friend of mine), said that “whether official advice or mere observation,” her approach would be similar: “find a ton of experts and let them guide the story.” Steve Katz, the publisher of Mother Jones, said that his newsroom had debated the same question, and shared a resultant story, by Kiera Butler, concluding that officials had no good options but ultimately made the right decision. Other outlets published nuanced explorations of the issues at stake, including vaccine confidence, without reaching a judgment. Multiple outlets produced explainers aimed at people who recently got the J&J shot. Numerous reporters, or the experts they cited, found different ways of stressing the minuteness of the clotting risk, should a link to the J&J vaccine be proven—by visualizing it, or by comparing it to the greater likelihood of being in a car accident, or dying of COVID. Some headlines centered the extreme rareness of the clots. Others made (sometimes greatly) more sweeping references to blood clot “concerns” or “fears.”

Being specific, and not sensationalist, is usually a good idea, especially when it comes to headlines, tweets, and other brief formats. But there are no easy, failsafe answers here. The J&J pause is yet another example of a profound media challenge that I’ve explored throughout the pandemic—the absence of certainty and ready-made expert consensus, within a media ecosystem that prizes those things. And there’s a newer challenge here, too: With vaccinations and reopenings proceeding apace, but COVID still very prevalent, we are in a moment where our collective interpretation of risk, and what constitutes it, is being stretched. The public-health risks of failing to impose tough restrictions last year were comparatively clear; the J&J pause is both highly risk-averse and highly risky, depending on how you look at it. It’s the media’s job to communicate these competing calculations and the increasingly complex—and ambiguous—variables that go into them. That is a very hard job indeed.

Below, more on vaccines:

  • The Europe precedent?: The type of clotting observed in the six Johnson & Johnson recipients is similar to that observed in very rare cases that regulators in Europe have linked to AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, which has been widely distributed there; many European countries suspended their AstraZeneca rollouts and, in some cases, have continued to recommend restrictions on its use, especially among younger people. According to one recent poll, more than half of respondents in France, Germany, and Spain now view the AstraZeneca vaccine as unsafe—a datapoint that Silver wielded on Twitter yesterday to bolster his criticism of the J&J pause. The situations, however, aren’t entirely comparable: vaccine skepticism manifests differently in different places, and the AstraZeneca vaccine has been embroiled in a string of controversies in Europe related to supply issues and apparent geopolitical sniping. As I wrote in February, news organizations both furthered that confusion and got stuck in the middle.
  • Boosting confidence?: On Sunday, Brian Stelter, CNN’s chief media correspondent, said that Fox News personalities should be more forthcoming in sharing their vaccine stories, especially given high levels of skepticism among Republican voters. “Live on-air vaccinations and personal testimonials and videos and ‘selfies’ are all helpful,” he argues. “They show that it’s safe and easy.” Since then, Fox stars and other right-wing media figures have ridiculed Stelter’s suggestion; Glenn Beck tweeted a picture giving CNN the middle finger. “They can mock me, they can downplay their influence, they can say that getting vaccinated is a personal choice—fine,” Stelter responded yesterday. “But big platforms come with big responsibilities.”
  • “Vaccine hesitancy”?: Writing on Twitter yesterday, Stefanie Friedhoff, a journalist and faculty member at Brown University’s School of Public Health, argued that we should retire the term “vaccine hesitancy,” which in her view has become “a catch-all that misrepresents, blames people over systems, and doesn’t help anything.” Instead, she wrote, “the words to start using are: Vaccine confidence. Intent to get vaccinated. But most importantly, we need to stop saying any of these words when it’s not actually about behavior but about the two most important drivers of why people don’t get vaccinated: access and misinformation.”

Other notable stories:

ICYMI: After the death of Prince Philip, media mourning in the UK

Posted: April 14, 2021, 12:25 pm

“Where there is disruption, there is opportunity”: What does the future hold for nonprofit newsrooms?

On March 18, 2020, the staff at Isthmus, a 45 year old alt-weekly newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, were scrambling to assemble that week’s newspaper for a coronavirus edition; they had just scrapped their original cover story. But after the paper ran the next morning, Isthmus’ owners told staff that the alt-weekly’s best chance for survival […]
Posted: April 13, 2021, 8:00 pm

Washington Post public editor: Bezos has been hands-off. What if that changes?

Apart from the purely money-driven vampires looking to suck the last bits of revenue from journalism, there are mostly two kinds of rich people who buy newspapers and magazines. Those, like Rupert Murdoch, who buy them with the explicit intention of wielding them as political megaphones. And those who buy them for the reason of […]
Posted: April 13, 2021, 7:45 pm

Daunte Wright, George Floyd, and a renewed focus on police brutality

On Sunday afternoon, Kim Potter, a police officer in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, shot and killed Daunte Wright, a twenty-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop. Minneapolis was already grappling with the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the cop charged with murdering George Floyd in the city last summer; on Sunday night, protesters gathered at the Brooklyn Center Police Department, and officers used tear gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets to disperse them. Yesterday, police leaders convened a press conference to address Wright’s killing. Journalists with national and international media, which already had a presence in Minneapolis for the Chauvin trial, were admitted, but local outlets had a tougher time getting in—two of the three journalists sent by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune were denied entry, as were reporters from Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota Reformer. The Star-Tribune’s Andy Mannix, who was turned away, said an official he approached “shut the blinds” on him. The situation, Mannix added, was “outrageous.”

An official reportedly told local media that the room was full, a claim that was disputed by the lone Star-Tribune journalist who managed to get inside. Online, observers speculated that baser instincts were at work. “Officials often fear local journalists the most because they have the best context and knowledge to ask the right questions and spot the spin,” Fenit Nirappil, of the Washington Post, noted; MSNBC’s Hayes Brown added that the access block, when added to officers’ decision to quickly release body-camera footage, “seems to indicate a strategy of getting ahead of the normal police shooting narrative: Get the national media in. Show that it was an ‘accidental discharge.’ Move on.” An accident was, indeed, what Tim Gannon, the Brooklyn Center police chief, claimed at the presser: Potter, he said, “had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.” In the footage shared by police, Potter can be heard shouting “Taser, Taser, Taser,” followed by, “Holy shit. I just shot him.” Gannon told reporters that he can “only see what you’re seeing. I can couple that with much of the training that I have received, and that’s why I’m believing it to be an accidental discharge.”

ICYMI: Living Through the Climate Emergency

Almost immediately, the words “police say” and “accidental” were paired in a barrage of headlines, push notifications, and tweets, as various commentators, politicians, and law-enforcement experts pushed back on Gannon’s claim. On Fox News, anchor Sandra Smith asked correspondent Mike Tobin about the local response to the presser. “I think there is still a great deal of anger,” Tobin said. “You still have a young Black man who has been killed at the hands of police, and when you have something like an accidental discharge, people aren’t going to say that it’s justified, and they’re still going to default to the belief that police… that Black lives matter, and they think that Black people are treated somehow otherwise.” Numerous outlets referred to Wright as an “unarmed Black man,” a framing that can, as Poynter’s Kelly McBride has written, fuel stereotypes and dangerous assumptions about the justification for police killings even when reporters use it to communicate innocence; others referred to Wright’s killing as an “officer-involved shooting,” which, as Mya Frazier has written for CJR, is police jargon that obscures accountability and basic clarity. Some reporters spelled “Daunte” wrong.

On cable news, the bodycam footage looped all night. Networks also patched in reporters on the ground as protesters again stayed in the streets, in defiance of an official curfew, and some of them clashed with police. At one point, a group of protesters surrounded NBC’s Ron Allen, as one shouted “go the fuck home” into the camera; separately, a man approached Sara Sidner, while she was reporting live for CNN, and took her to task, telling her to “get away from here with all that media shit you’re doing,” and accusing the media of making protesters “look crazier than what they are.” Police fired what Sidner described as “the strongest tear gas I have ever faced during a protest,” and also used stun grenades. Carlos Gonzalez, a photojournalist at the Star-Tribune, reported that he was pepper-sprayed in the eye while he covered confrontations outside the police department. Later, police ordered journalists—who were theoretically exempted from the curfew—to gather in a single spot. According to Sidner, reporters were threatened with detention if they didn’t comply.

The protests weren’t limited to Brooklyn Center. Demonstrators gathered in Wright’s memory elsewhere in America, including in Portland, Oregon, where, according to the Portland Tribune, members of the press were confronted by protesters and knocked to the ground in a police charge. Nor was yesterday’s coverage of police brutality limited to Minneapolis: footage circulated, too, of a traffic stop near Norfolk, Virginia, during which officers pulled their weapons on Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino Army lieutenant, pepper-sprayed him, and shouted threats. (The stop occurred in December; on Sunday, officials said that one of the officers had been fired. Nazario also recently sued the officers.) Last night, Nazario’s treatment was paired with the killings of Wright and Floyd in cable coverage. “Policing, let’s just be honest, it’s broken,” MSNBC’s Joy Reid said. “It’s broken at every level in America.” Following Reid onto the air, Chris Hayes asked, “Is anything really getting better in the wake of George Floyd?”

A month ago, I wrote that a wave of individual stories about police brutality and misconduct that were then in the news cycle had not yet added up to a collective, national focus on the institution of policing of the type that we saw last summer, after Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s trial, which has been a huge story for much of the past two weeks, began to retrain that focus—amid much legalistic dissection of courtroom particulars, and whether each day has been a good day for the prosecution. It has taken the killing of another Black man in the Minneapolis area to sharpen it.

Below, more on Minneapolis and the police:

Other notable stories:

ICYMI: Looking for a future beyond print in western Iowa

Posted: April 13, 2021, 12:37 pm

“Maybe the kind of reform that we want comes from creators being like, ‘I’m done'”

The New York Times’ Ben Smith reported on Sunday that Charlie Warzel has moved to Substack, but when this interview was conducted on March 27, he was still a writer-at-large for the Times’ Opinion section. He writes a lot about technology, platforms, and the meeting point between the physical and digital worlds. You can subscribe...
Posted: April 12, 2021, 3:09 pm

Gawker stalker: The news-and-gossip site that helped define the modern content web is coming back to life

Want to feel old, at least in Internet years? Gawker has been shut down…for nearly five years now. Barack Obama was still president back then. “Work From Home” was just a hot summer jam, not a way of life. Peter Thiel was still spending his money suing news outlets out of existence, not backing the...
Posted: April 12, 2021, 3:00 pm

After the death of Prince Philip, media mourning in the UK

Around lunchtime on Friday, BBC One, a TV channel in the UK, cut away from its scheduled programming, and faded to black. A “News Report” card, drained of the broadcaster’s typical bright color scheme, appeared on screen, followed by the newsreader Martine Croxall, who was set behind a desk in a black blazer. “We are interrupting our normal programs to bring you an important announcement,” she said. “A short while ago, Buckingham Palace announced the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.” The channel then showed a picture of Philip—the Queen’s husband, who was ninety nine and had been in ill health—as the British national anthem played. The BBC’s other TV and radio channels cut into their programming, too. On the music station Radio 1, an announcer interrupted “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” by Lana Del Rey; on its dance-music substation, a pulsing dance anthem mashed right into the national anthem, with no prior warning. It was, Twitter agreed, quite the beat drop.

When (non-patriotic) music returned to Radio 1, it was notably low-key. On TV, Philip coverage remained wall to wall. The BBC preempted its entire schedule—the final of the popular cooking contest Masterchef, a satirical news quiz, a women’s soccer match between England and France—across all its main channels; BBC Two ran Philip tributes in tandem with BBC One, while BBC Four put a card on screen telling viewers to switch over to BBC One. Similar instructions appeared on CBBC, the BBC’s dedicated channel for children. (In case you’re wondering, there is currently no BBC Three on linear TV.) The BBC’s traditional broadcast rivals, ITV and Channel 4, also cleared their schedules to varying degrees, though the latter still made time for The Simpsons, among other shows. The typical bells and whistles of BREAKING NEWS coverage—always less migraine-inducing on British TV than in the US—were absent, giving way to a grave somberness of tone as networks cycled through packages about Philip’s life, interviews with prominent people, and live reports outside Windsor Castle, where Philip died, and Buckingham Palace, where members of the public paid tribute, despite the pandemic.

New from Covering Climate Now: Living Through the Climate Emergency

As day turned to night, whispers that this all might be a bit too much grew louder. “Is anyone actually making the BBC do this?” Tom Peck, a journalist with The Independent, asked on Twitter, shortly before 11pm local time. “It’s genuinely making me feel uneasy now. If this was North Korean TV the world would be pissing itself laughing.” He wasn’t the only observer to make that comparison. “I’m sensing that very few people are giving much of a fuck,” Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, wrote the next day. “Even older royalist relatives of mine in England are moaning about the embarrassing overkill.” The early ratings seemed to match Welsh’s sense—according to Deadline, BBC One’s Friday-night audience fell six percent from the week before, with BBC Two down sixty-five percent, and ITV down sixty percent. The day’s highest-rated program (to appear only on one channel) wasn’t Philip coverage, but Gogglebox, a Channel 4 show—in which viewers watch other people watching TV—that attracted more viewers than the concurrent Philip documentaries on BBC One, BBC Two, and ITV combined. So many people complained about the BBC’s excessive coverage, meanwhile, that the broadcaster opened a special online form to make complaining easier. (Some prominent conservatives said that the existence of the form was, in and of itself, evidence of liberal bias.)

On the BBC and ITV, the special coverage continued through Saturday morning and into the early afternoon, when, more than twenty-four hours after the Philip news broke, viewers were finally allowed to watch sports. Those who didn’t want the respite may have turned, at that point, to their Saturday newspapers, which were also saturated with coverage. The Daily Mail, a right-wing tabloid, ran an “HISTORIC 144-PAGE ISSUE WITH MAGICAL SOUVENIR MAGAZINE.” The Daily Express, also a right-wing tabloid, had forty-nine pages of Philip coverage, and even liberal newspapers, which tend to be less fawning of the monarchy, had huge front-page tributes and ample content inside. Some of the coverage made at least some attempt to explore the nuances of Philip’s character, but much of it was hagiography. The BBC dismissed a racist comment Philip once made about Asian people as a “diplomatic gaffe,” and wrote that “many saw” his many errant remarks as “nothing more than an attempt to lighten the atmosphere and put people at their ease.” The Oldie’s Harry Mount, who was once on the receiving end of a Philip “gaffe,” reached a similar conclusion; Madeline Grant, of the Telegraph, dubbed him “the Prince of Banter” in an article that was (somewhat confusingly) headlined, “To me, Prince Philip was the nation’s grandfather.” The colonial legacy of the royal family didn’t get much attention. Philip’s status as a deity to a “remote tribe” in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, did.

Programming is mostly back to normal by now, but the media tributes are far from over. The papers are still full of them (the Mail is promising “HISTORIC EDITIONS INSIDE ALL WEEK”), and Britain has now entered a period of national mourning that will last until next Sunday morning, during which time the government will not hold press conferences or let ministers conduct media interviews. Britain is hardly a news vacuum right now—the minds of many are preoccupied with the fact that pub beer gardens and other business are reopening today after months of enforced closure—but coverage of Philip will likely continue to dominate, much of it downstream of formal maneuvers that have been carefully choreographed in advance. (While major newsrooms often pre-write obituaries for famous people, few such figures have code-named PR operations planned around their deaths.) Philip’s funeral, which is scheduled for Saturday, is already shaping up to be a generational media event, even though COVID will limit its size and curtail mass popular gatherings, and Philip will not lie in state. (Apparently, he didn’t want any “fuss.”)

According to Jim Waterson, of The Guardian, the BBC’s extensive Philip coverage was a reaction, in part, to the death of the Queen’s mother, in 2002, when right-wing newspapers tore chunks out of the broadcaster for what they saw as insufficient deference, and for failing to mandate black ties for anchors; according to Kate Duffy, of Insider, the BBC now has black clothes on standby, including the blazer that Croxall donned on Friday. The BBC’s tone, at moments such as this, is always closely watched on the right—including inside the Conservative government, with which the BBC is currently negotiating its public funding arrangement. As well as politics, those talks are being shaped by the splintering of the broadcast-TV landscape in this digital age. Taken together, twin forces of political and media fragmentation likely account for much of the reason that so many viewers tuned out on Friday; over the weekend, much commentary situated these trends as troubling for the BBC, which, more than being a news outlet, has mythic status, among many Brits, as a cultural unifier. The appropriateness and performance of this function have always been open to question—though the political trend here, in particular, has deeper roots. As Waterson put it, “the UK really needs to stop asking the BBC complaints department to rule on all our deepest cultural issues and just go to therapy.”

Below, more from the UK:

  • The view from abroad: Anchors on ABC, the public broadcaster in Australia, which is part of the British Commonwealth, also cut into regular programming and wore black after Philip died—but Waterson reports, for The Guardian, that in many Commonwealth countries, “the duke’s death was treated as a foreign affair with most focusing on British reaction to the news.” Philip’s death “was less noticeable in India, where the Times of India and the Hindustan Times carried small pictures beside the papers’ mastheads,” Waterson writes. “Newspapers in the Caribbean were more concerned with the eruption of La Soufrière volcano in St Vincent, but Trinidad’s Saturday Express found space for a small picture of the duke on its front page.”
  • The duke from abroad: This morning, Prince Harry, who now lives in the US, reportedly landed in the UK ahead of Philip’s funeral, which he plans to attend; Meghan Markle, Harry’s wife, is pregnant and has been advised not to travel, according to officials. Meghan and Harry’s relations with the royal family have been strained since they “Megxited” the institution last year, and especially so since their recent bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, on CBS, which some British pundits—including the since self-canceled Piers Morgan—griped was insensitively timed given Philip’s poor health. We can look forward to the British press scrutinizing Harry’s every move this week.
  • Let’s talk about Lex: In recent weeks, David Cameron, Britain’s former prime minister, has found himself at the center of a lobbying scandal after the Financial Times and other outlets reported that he recently contacted senior officials on behalf of Greensill Capital, a finance firm founded by the Australian financier Lex Greensill, in which Cameron now holds shares. (Cameron also lobbied the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a camping trip that took place after a UN report already implicated MBS in the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.) Cameron has steadfastly avoided commenting to the mediawhen the Financial Times reached his cellphone, he told the paper to contact his office, which never responded—but yesterday, he finally broke his silence. In a lengthy statement, he denied breaking any rules but said he should have gone through more “formal channels.” He also said he raised “human rights” in Saudi.

Some news from the home front:
In the runup to Earth Day, on April 22, Covering Climate Now, a global climate-journalism consortium led by CJR and The Nation, is coordinating coverage on the theme of “Living Through the Climate Emergency.” This morning, we’re out with a statement—cosigned by Scientific American, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Noticias Telemundo, Asahi Shimbun, and La Repubblica—calling on the world of journalism to “recognize that the climate emergency is here.” Why “emergency”? we ask. “Because words matter. To preserve a livable planet, humanity must take action immediately.” You can read the statement here, and an introduction to Covering Climate Now’s pre-Earth Day coverage here.

Other notable stories:

CNN Public Editor: how a ratings fixation affects coverage

Posted: April 12, 2021, 12:25 pm

Living Through the Climate Emergency

Imagine a wildfire was bearing down on your community. Smoke was darkening the sun; flames were hopping from one canyon to the next. The local fire expert, who had been warning of this moment for years, said the time had come to evacuate.  Right now.   But the local newsroom wasn’t so sure. Wouldn’t businesses suffer […]
Posted: April 12, 2021, 10:55 am

Mel Magazine reinvented men’s media, and now it’s hoping for a second act

Mel Magazine has not left the building. Josh Schollmeyer, the editor-In-chief of the internet’s foremost twisted, hilarious, poignant, deranged, and assiduously one-of-a-kind men’s magazine, is hedging on a comeback. “In the last week we’ve had 40 investment inquiries. I’ve been doing a number of calls every day with a number of big media brands and...
Posted: April 9, 2021, 4:04 pm

The Front Page, 4/9: Newsrooms still haven’t figured out what to do when their journalists are harassed online

Female journalists bear the brunt of online harassment. The Washington Post has rescinded a ban that prohibited reporter Felicia Sonmez from covering sexual assault. Hi all. I’ve been told by my editors that the Post is rescinding its ban. This is good news, but it’s unfortunate that it had to come at such a high emotional toll,...
Posted: April 9, 2021, 4:00 pm

“The idea that we can change anything, I have given up on”: NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny on documenting the “depressing” internet

Brandy Zadrozny is a reporter and former librarian. She is one of the key voices in the depressingly relevant reporting beat of disinformation, politics, and conspiracy. For years now, Brandy has jumped into the more chaotic parts of the internet so others don’t have to, and her reporting on QAnon, grifters, and the state of...
Posted: April 8, 2021, 2:50 pm

Scientists need to get better at talking to the public. Why doesn’t training seem to help?

Science is essential to solving many of society’s biggest problems, but it doesn’t always find a receptive audience. Today, when curbing Covid-19 requires hundreds of millions of Americans to get vaccinated, it’s more urgent than ever for scientists to be able to communicate effectively with the public. The challenge was clear long before the pandemic....
Posted: April 8, 2021, 1:00 pm

This J-school is old. Its first-ever diversity and inclusion chair is new.

Last June, a group of 21 students and alumni from Canada’s Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication published a call to action directed at the school, saying that it has “created an environment where BIPOC students feel that they do not belong.” “The school’s often non-existent approaches to tackling systemic issues within the institution...
Posted: April 6, 2021, 5:03 pm

Why does so much news about the European Union still come out of London, even post-Brexit?

We’ve written often about the sense of dislocation brought about by the switch from local, analog news sources to national, digital ones. News used to come from people who lived in your town and shopped at your grocery store; that made it relatively easy to trust what they reported and that their interests at least...
Posted: April 6, 2021, 1:38 pm

A rival bid might actually keep Tribune out of Alden Global Capital’s hands — and Alden might be just fine with that

They’ve got the money. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that the rival bid for Tribune Publishing has moved from do-gooder pipe dream to an actual pile of (digital) cash, sitting in a bank account somewhere, waiting to be spent. The prospect of this bid — from a hotel executive and a Swiss billionaire...
Posted: April 5, 2021, 1:08 pm

Jeff Israely: Getting paid means some work for brands — and it’s O.K. to talk about that

It was January 2020, and Justin Trudeau had decided to grow a beard. This of course was not news in the Watergate or even the who-won-last-night’s-game sense of the word. But if you happen to be a Reuters correspondent in Ottawa, it’s a story with your name on it. You might moan about celebrity-driven politics...
Posted: April 5, 2021, 1:07 pm

When the mob comes

The first time the online mob came for me was in 2016. I was live-tweeting my caucus experience, which I was writing about for Vice, during the realignment period of the caucuses, which is basically when you try to get people to come to your group and vote for your candidate. That year, Martin O’Malley...
Posted: April 1, 2021, 4:00 pm

Maybe just shut up about national politics if you want to reduce polarization?

It’s Thanksgiving 2021, and thanks to the magic of vaccines, you’re celebrating it back in your hometown with your family. What a wonderful occasion — threatened only by the annual potential for you and Uncle Theo to get into fights about gun control, abortion, Donald Trump, “illegals,” and (in odd years) pedophile cannibals and the...
Posted: April 1, 2021, 3:47 pm

“Black America is vast in its diversity,” and Capital B will be “singularly focused” on Black communities

Last November, Vox’s editor-in-chief, Lauren Williams, and its founding editor, Ezra Klein, both announced they were leaving. Klein was off to The New York Times to be a podcast host and opinion columnist. Williams, though, was going another direction. She would build something brand new: a nonprofit newsroom called Capital B. The digital news site...
Posted: March 31, 2021, 4:49 pm

We need to know more about political ads. But can transparency be a trap?

As misinformation researchers, we spend a lot of time thinking about online advertising. We dig through ad libraries, monitor platforms’ announcements, and publish investigations into how disinformation agents are bending the rules. We rely on social media platforms to give us information to do this. But the experience of working within platforms’ parameters has left...
Posted: March 31, 2021, 1:00 pm

From public to publics: News orgs need ombudsmen to push for more diverse representation, inside and out

On July 16, 1967, the Louisville Courier-Journal (and its then-afternoon sibling the Louisville Times) became the first American newspaper to appoint an ombudsman — a charming but awkward word taken from Swedish (“representative,” roughly). The concept of having someone designated to take complaints and evaluate their merits had remained confined to Scandinavia until the 1960s,...
Posted: March 29, 2021, 5:42 pm

How Stat survived, and thrived, during the craziest year in health reporting history

2020 was one of the grimmest years for the media business on record. As the pandemic became a reality, and society came to grips with a global quarantine and an unprecedented swoon in consumer demand, no newsroom was safe. Every day brought more bad news; furloughs transformed into permanent discharges, advertisers disappeared and didn’t return,...
Posted: March 29, 2021, 5:24 pm

When journalists put tweets in news stories, do they transfer too much power to Twitter?

The new year brought new dimensions to the ongoing conversation on the power platforms have in hosting and shaping public discourse. When some people blamed social media companies for the disease of misinformation that spread more quickly even than Covid-19, others pointed to politicians as the source of the lies. But when Twitter and Facebook...
Posted: March 26, 2021, 4:30 pm

The Front Page 3/26: Reporting on violence, Medium’s latest pivot, and newsroom social media policies

Last March, as coronavirus cases climbed in the United States, the Asian American Journalists Association issued a joint statement denouncing violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, urging reporters to abandon language that supports racism: “It is more important than ever that the media collectively gets it right so that we don’t give others, including politicians and...
Posted: March 26, 2021, 4:15 pm

How mainstream media failed the Atlanta shooting victims

On March 17, the day after the Atlanta spa shootings that killed eight people — six of whom were women of Korean and Chinese descent — the Asian American Journalism Association (AAJA)’s website crashed. “We’re troubleshooting @AAJA website, which is crashing from the traffic after we released guidance on covering the Atlanta shooting. It’ll be back...
Posted: March 24, 2021, 6:36 pm

Most TV completely ignores women’s sports, a 30-year study finds

In a paper summarizing 30 years of sports coverage on televised news and highlights shows, researchers began by quoting a short segment dedicated to a WNBA game between the L.A. Sparks and the Atlanta Dream. The broadcast was unusual, authors Cheryl Cooky, LaToya D. Council, Maria A. Mears, and Michael A. Messner pointed out, in...
Posted: March 24, 2021, 6:35 pm

Fox News appeals to a diverse viewership, while Newsmax and OAN tend to attract older, white men

Fox News reaches nearly half of American adults and over 60 percent of Republican-leaning adults, according to a new Pew Research Center report. The study surveyed 12,045 American adults between March 8 and March 14, 2021, and found that 43% of American adults got at least some political news from Fox News that week, compared...
Posted: March 23, 2021, 7:05 pm

Why do Americans share so much fake news? One big reason is they aren’t paying attention, new research suggests

Many Americans share fake news on social media because they’re simply not paying attention to whether the content is accurate — not necessarily because they can’t tell real from made-up news, a new study in Nature suggests. Lack of attention was the driving factor behind 51.2% of misinformation sharing among social media users who participated in...
Posted: March 23, 2021, 5:43 pm

Build for a crisis: Ideas for the future of local news

When a terrible winter storm and widespread utility failures hit Texas last month, we were happy to see local newsrooms in the state work to get people the information they needed to survive during the outages. Local news can be an essential service in this way every day, providing information that helps people meet their...
Posted: March 22, 2021, 1:50 pm

Most U.S. news organizations still won’t let most readers cancel their subscriptions online

Bad news for people who hate using the phone: Just 41% of U.S. news publishers “make it easy” for subscribers to cancel their subscriptions online, according to a new survey from the American Press Institute. News organizations also vary widely in how and whether they identify or assist subscribers who are at risk of canceling....
Posted: March 22, 2021, 1:00 pm

The New York Times is so done with its 77,000-member Facebook cooking group. What happens now?

“I blame people who fight over brands of mayonnaise.” “How many goddamn posts do we need to see of people’s first Le Creuset? Seriously.” “All the food shaped VOTE signs.” “It was all the, my grocery order included 16lbs of heavy cream what should I make?” “It’s gone downhill with people posting Cooking 101 questions...
Posted: March 18, 2021, 6:41 pm