News and information that journalists need to serve the public and stay safe.
March 30, 2020
Gannett announces furloughs, Tampa Bay Times cuts print
March is not going out like a lamb for the news business. On Monday, the nation’s largest newspaper company, Gannett, announced it would begin to furlough staff to compensate for revenue lost to the coronavirus. The Tampa Bay Times — the country’s first news organization owned by a nonprofit — announced that it would stop printing every day except Wednesdays and Sundays

These decisions underscored the search for lifelines, such as the $100 million in support that Facebook announced . ‘Everyone believes that local journalism is incredibly important ,’ Mark Zuckerberg told Axios. News lobbyists sent a letter to President Trump and congressional leadership giving them notice that they would be exploring government help for the industry . (Not everyone believes the large newspaper chains are worth bailing out . )
LATEST HEADLINES
· McClatchy’s Mahoning Matters has lost a business executive to coronavirus . Mark Eckert had been with The Vindicator in Ohio for years, then when it shut down, he joined Mahoning Matters, which launched as the first McClatchy-Google collaboration in October 2019.
How the Inquirer is covering the ‘invisible’ presidential campaign
What does a venerable newspaper like the Philadelphia Inquirer do when coronavirus overtakes the presidential campaign of its “hometown” candidate? After all, Joe Biden, the Scranton-born former senator from neighboring Delaware has his campaign headquarters just blocks from the newsroom.

“Joe Biden is very much a local story for Inquirer readers, referred to for years as ‘Pennsylvania’s third senator,’ not entirely jokingly,” said Tom Fitzgerald, the Inquirer’s political editor in an email Q&A.

“We cover his virtual campaign events and also have been doing more thematic stories, such as a recent one about his difficulty breaking into the national news cycle in the pandemic, overshadowed by big-state governors and the president. “

But Fitzgerald sees a broader purpose, too.

“It’s even more important to cover politics now, both because the pandemic has raised plenty of issues and concerns, and as a strategic matter, to give readers something besides all virus all the time.”

What strategies do you give reporters for interviewing voters in the age of coronavirus?

Fitzgerald : We’re still trying to adjust to how to interview voters. We’ve used call-outs on social media by reporters: ‘I’m working on a story on such-and-such, DM me or call me at this number please?’ We also have a regular online feature, Curious Philly, which lets readers ask us about anything, and we answer the best questions. We’ve been using it somewhat to engage readers on political topics. And we’re trying to figure out ways to convene groups, or “panels” of voters to participate in virtual interviews. For all the means of fast communication, though, so much of political campaigning is high-touch, in rallies, town halls and field ops.

Read on for how The Inquirer is measuring voter enthusiasm, thinking about polling, and covering a campaign that has become “kind of invisible”
Institute launches new writing group
The National Press Club Journalism Institute is starting a daily writing group for people who want to support each other’s work from wherever they are.  

The group will meet Mondays through Fridays on Zoom. You can come once or come often, whatever works best for you. The half-hour daily gatherings, from 11:30am-12pm ET, will include a writing prompt, breakout sessions for a thoughtful discussion of work in progress, and an invitation to write for the next day. 

The group will serve nonfiction writers, whether you hope to turn a journal entry into a personal essay or you’re a newsroom journalist who wants to improve your work. Memoirists, biographers, historians, whatever your preferred nonfiction form of writing — all are welcome. 

There will also be a Slack channel available to participants so they can continue talking when the group isn’t meeting. 

To request a spot, provide your information here . Participants will receive a calendar invitation and the Zoom link. 

The group will meet for the first time on Thursday, April 2.  

Questions? Please contact Julie Moos at jmoos@press.org .
Interns: How to stay connected to your newsrooms

As an intern working remotely, you might feel out of it, forgotten or less important. Or, you are in touch with the office but don't know how much contact is too much contact.

  • Don't take it personally. You may not be top of mind, but remember your boss is likely working at home or in a changed environment, and is juggling more than usual.
  • Ask your supervisors how often they want to be contacted. Agree on the right device (text, e-mail, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc) and ask if there is a good time to connect.
  • Figure out which communication styles work (narrative with links? Summaries?) and repeat successes.
  • Constantly watch/listen to the organization's reports online, on air or on social media, so you know where the focus has been, who is working on what topic and where you might fit in.
  • Don't take risks. Follow health guidelines. Your employer does not expect you to put yourself in harm's way. Don't.
  • Be more clear than humanly possible. If, for example, the supervisor uses e-mail, then the subject fields should be direct to the topic at hand. Nothing fuzzy, nothing vague.
  • Abide by your organization’s policies and practices, employers say.
  • Ask to participate in newsroom-wide virtual meetings.
  • Find other interns with whom to stay in touch. You are in this together.

Be the same reporter you are in the classroom: highly ethical, unfailingly accurate, and forever useful.

Amy Eisman is the Director of Journalism Division, School of Communication at American University.
Self-Care: Showing grace while grieving
Savannah Bullard is editor in chief of The Crimson White, the student-run publication of the University of Alabama. In an email Q&A with the Institute , Bullard shared where she’s finding strength.
 
Savannah Bullard
Editor-in-Chief, The Crimson White
The University of Alabama
 
“Many essential people in this time (reporters, first responders, medical professionals, service workers, etc.) are trying to toughen up and muscle through all the new (WILDLY lofty) expectations in light of this global tragedy … 
 
“I had to learn that as a leader of a staff that's really, really hurting right now, I need to make sure that my folks are given the time to grieve the loss of their senior years, the loss of formals and honors day ceremonies and end-of-year banquets and walking across the stage in Coleman Coliseum in May. … I'm a first-generation college student who will never see my graduation stage, and that is painful.
 
“I, along with my staff and school community, need a hefty dose of grace. That's the biggest lesson we've learned since COVID-19 wrecked our lives: We've got a job to do for our school and community, and what we do is so important. But most of all, we are so imperfectly human. We need to allow ourselves to process this extremely emotional time and grieve in whatever way is appropriate for us individually. Without grace and love – for each other and for ourselves – we will not survive this.” 
 
“And, of course, all those meetings definitely COULD have been emails.”

RESOURCES

· Trauma & journalism — basics of coverage, self-care & peer support (Webinar: April 2, 1-2pm ET)
This newsletter is written & edited by the National Press Club Journalism Institute staff: Beth Francesco, Holly Butcher Grant, Jim Kuhnhenn, and Julie Moos. Send us your questions and suggestions for topics to cover.

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