November 18, 2020
"Finding solutions for the journalism crisis will necessarily involve all those who are hurt by the deterioration of community-engaged information, at every level. It’s beyond time to double down on methods to inform and recruit the broader public in a collective effort to revitalize and reinvent local journalism for the 21st century. We all need local news, and now local news needs all of us."
 
Lauren Harris, Columbia Journalism Review Delacorte Fellow
WHAT'S HAPPENING
According to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios, COVID-19 cases have never been higher in the United States, but online interest has never been lower. News articles about the pandemic have generated 75 million interactions on social media over the last two weeks — the lowest since the beginning of March. This is true even as the number of articles published recently about the virus is comparable to that of the spike in cases in early June or July. However, some argue the dominance of election coverage could be affecting the attention COVID-19 stories are receiving.
 
There has been much talk about what it will mean for the media after President Donald Trump is no longer in office and President-elect Joe Biden takes over. Cable news particularly has been caught up in a whirlwind of the Trump presidency. The craziness has lifted the ratings and ad sales of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, yet there’s palpable concern the spotlight may fade come the president’s transfer of power. Jay Rosen writes for PressThink that there are two paths forward for the American press. “The first path is a restoration of order as a more normal president takes office… The second path is a democratic breakthrough in journalism after what Masha Gessen calls an ‘autocratic attempt,’ which failed in the 2020 elections.”
 
ProPublica is experimenting with plain language stories about people with disabilities. The outlet’s translation appears to be the first time a plain language version has been produced by a news organization that isn’t specifically produced by and/or for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Offering a free, Plain Language version of an anthology of essays by disabled authors is ground-breaking in publishing circles, a perfect match to its creators and audience, and instructive for everyone who writes for public communication,” writes Forbes contributor Andrew Pulrang. “Although the general idea of making information accessible to people with cognitive disabilities isn’t new, it’s an area of accessibility that is surprisingly ignored.”
 
As election night turned into election week, TV reporters were there every step of the way. To give people an idea of how that week went down for some journalists, Esquire’s Writer-at-Large Kate Storey spoke to more than a dozen CNN anchors, reporters and producers about how they pulled off the longest and most dramatic Election Week in recent memory.
SPJ QUICK FIX
The SPJ Board of Directors will meet at 3 p.m. EST Saturday. The Foundation Board will meet at noon EST Saturday. More information will soon be available.
 
Calling all SPJ student members! You’re invited to the virtual SPJ Student Summit at 8 p.m. EST Thursday. Collegiate journalism contest winners will be celebrated, and we will announce this year’s Campus Chapters of the Year. The event will feature a keynote from Dave Jorgenson, The Washington Post TikTok guy. We hope to see all our student members and advisers there!
 
SPJ is pleased to partner with the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for "A Night with George Will," recipient of the 2020 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award, at 8 p.m. EST Dec. 3. He will discuss his body of work, his career and the column writing industry. SPJ members can use the coupon code "SPJWILL" to receive a $20 discount. Register now!
 
Send us a quote! As SPJ and the SPJ Foundation continue to educate the public about the importance of ethical journalism, we want to hear why you think it’s important! If you are willing, send us a quote we can share through social media and other marketing mediums. These will be used throughout the rest of the year. Send your response(s) to either or both of the following questions, along with your photo and title, to Larry Messing. Responses to each should be 50 words or less: What important role does ethical journalism play in communities? How does SPJ help you succeed in your career?
 
SPJ is transitioning to a new member database. The new online member experience is coming very soon. We thank you for your patience as we complete the process. Likely until Nov. 30, we anticipate delays in processing new member applications and current member renewals. This should not dissuade individuals from submitting these applications, however, please expect a longer turnaround time. Current members whose membership expires during this time will still receive member benefits. Members will be made aware via email and newsletter when the new system is fully operational. If you have any questions, please contact Manager of Membership and Chapters Caroline Escobar.
 
Muslim journalists Aymann Ismail of Slate Magazine, Rowaida Abdelaziz of HuffPost and Tahera Rahman of KXAN-TV share the challenges they face in the news industry during this SPJ Diversity and Inclusion Committee and SPJ New England Pro Chapter panel event, “Words of Wisdom: The Challenges Muslim Journalists Face in the News Industry.” They also share how they help tell stories of their own diverse Muslim community.
 
Join the SPJ International Community and journalist Stavros Malichudis at 6 p.m. EST Dec. 1 for the next of the #ICTalks. They will discuss the work of Solomon, an Athens-based digital media outlet that was founded in 2016. Solomon provides independent reporting on migration and refugee issues in Greek and English and free media training to the refugees and migrants so they can produce their own stories. Register now.
 
SPJ Journalist on Call Rod Hicks writes for Quill about how the news media boosted its credibility in election coverage. He describes many ways news outlets have been trying to prove to news consumers they can be trusted with recent coverage, including the excellent work they did with the 2020 election week.
 
Do they allow inmates at Camp Cupcake to read Wine Spectator? What pairs well with half-baked insider trading schemes, anyway? There’s lots to chew on in this week’s News Biz Quiz.
GET A GIG
WSBT-TV in Mishawaka, Indiana, is looking for a weekend sports anchor/reporter. This position will produce daily content on a variety of platforms including the internet and social networks. Previous anchoring experience and at least two years of on-air experience are required.
 
Tulsa World in Oklahoma is hiring a staff photographer. A bachelor's degree, preferably in photography/journalism, or equivalent combination experience and a minimum of two years’ experience in photojournalism are required. Applicants must know Final Cut Pro editing software.
 
iHeartMedia in Des Moines, Iowa, is searching for a traffic reporter/producer. This position provides traffic information to commuters by utilizing external sources and inputting into data system and voices on-air traffic reports on radio and television stations. Previous on-air radio or television experience and a college degree or certificate are preferred.
 
Looking for journalism jobs and internships? Check out SPJ’s Career Center and resources from the Journalist’s Toolbox.
FIGHTING FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce v. Evers is a COVID-19-related open records case involving the names of businesses employing at least 25 people where at least two employees have tested positive for the virus or been investigated by contact tracers. The Wisconsin Department of Public Health planned to release this information in response to various public records requests until the chamber of commerce and other business groups sued to obtain a temporary restraining order to bar public disclosure of the information. The amicus brief argues that the Wisconsin law that bars the release of “healthcare records” that identify individual patients should not prevent disclosure in this case because business names do not identify individual patients. News organizations must have access to this type of information to fulfill their important role of enabling the public to make informed decisions about their health during this time. 

View all of SPJ's most recent efforts to assist journalists and journalism in court and elsewhere on the LDF in Action page
LEARN SOME STUFF
The National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information published NFOIC's latest research paper, "Invisible Incentives: How Secrecy Impedes Evaluation and Accountability of Economic Development Subsidies," Monday. This paper examines the practice of offering public financial and in-kind incentives to attract and retain companies and jobs in communities — mostly without public oversight. 
 
To help newsrooms continue to surface relevant election coverage amidst the noisy news environment, the ElectionSOS team built its Story and Pitch Database. The database is updated daily with potential pitches for a range of coverage options and has been built for reporters who are on a deadline, searching for inspiration or just need a bit of a break. 
ETHICS ESSENTIALS
How do you cover a marginalized group of people with empathy? The SPJ Florida Pro Chapter says in a blog post, “Undercover Panhandle Story Missed the Mark,” that a TV news reporter posing as someone from a marginalized group is not the empathetic or ethical way to tell their story.

“Watching this felt wrong,” said former SPJ Ethics Committee Chair Lynn Walsh. Walsh has a background in investigative broadcast news. “The story took a very complicated issue (homelessness) but barely scraped the surface on covering one aspect of it.

“As journalists, we have a role to provide information to the public but we also have a responsibility to do so respectfully,” she added.
GIVE A LITTLE
Millions of Americans have let their voices be heard. Journalists worked overtime to cut through the noise and get to the truth. Support the work of a free press through a gift to the SPJ Mission Fund and the SPJ Foundation today!
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