May 17, 2021
Top stories
Did Biden see Israeli intel on AP Gaza building? Psaki won’t say (The Hill) / Israel showed USsmoking gun’ on Hamas in AP office tower, officials say (Jerusalem Post) / Secretary of State Blinken’s call to AP CEO Gary Pruitt (Philip Crowther) / ‘We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.’ (Jen Psaki) / U.S. press leaders urge Israel to halt strikes on media facilities (NPC/NPCJI) / Israel face international outrage after airstrike destroys Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices (Washington Post) / AP ‘looking for some temporary quarters’ in Gaza (Brian Stelter) / Statement: AP 'horrified' by Israeli attack on its office (Associated Press) / A former AP correspondent explains how and why his colleagues get Israel so wrong (Tablet) / Israel sought to interfere with independent reporting. We've seen that in Iowa (Des Moines Register) 
After a year of working from home, journalists and communicators around the country are hitting reset on their routines as they consider life after vaccination. Add “Pro Tips: Writing refresh” to your toolkit as you reset.

In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll get you motivated with:
  • Tips on energizing tired writing
  • Structuring stories with inclusivity at their core
  • Writing killer headlines that attract, rather than distract

Registration is open for this program, which will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. ET Friday, June 4, on Zoom. Tickets are $50 for general participants and $40 for National Press Club members.

Session spotlight: How to be intentionally inclusive when reporting and writing
(2-3 p.m., Robert Samuels)

Writing with the “little white man” on your shoulder is ingrained in the writing life, says Robert Samuels, quoting Toni Morrison. So how do you keep different voices and perspectives on your shoulder without weighing down your reporting? Robert Samuels, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, will guide you through how to write with inclusivity at the heart of your work.

Participants will learn how to:
  • Talk yourself through a story’s mission statement and audience
  • Conceive inclusive stories by universalizing their most basic emotional appeal
  • Pitch (and pitch again and pitch again) stories that prompt diverse sourcing
  • Channel people who see the story differently than you and/or your editor
  • Deconstruct the process, structure and language that makes a story inclusive

Robert Samuels is a national political reporter for The Washington Post who focuses on the intersection of politics, policy and people. He travels the country to chronicle how the vivacious political discussion in the nation’s capital is impacting the lives of everyday Americans. He previously told stories about life in the District for The Post’s social issues team. Robert joined The Post in 2011 after spending nearly five years working at the Miami Herald. At the Herald, he covered politics, poverty, murder and mayhem. 
Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago, Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership

When news organizations plan workshops on improving culture, communication, conflict resolution, change or other aspects of organizational life, managers sometimes struggle with one well-intentioned question:

 “What role, if any, should I play? Is there a chance my presence will keep people from speaking candidly? Might things go better without me there?”

I appreciate that they recognize their potential power to change the dynamics in the room. The presence of a powerful person can cause others to step back or self-censor. But think again.

The absence of leaders during sessions on important issues can send the wrong message — that they’re uninterested in the topic at hand or unwilling to hear criticism.

Here’s what I believe about programs or workshops designed to talk about what organizations should stand for, how they are reckoning with problems or creating a stronger future: 

It’s better for managers to be there — but to do everything possible to put people at ease. 

  • Be transparent about why you’re attending. Tell people from the start that you’re there to learn, work and plan alongside people.
  • Participate fully as a colleague, not as the person in charge. Let the facilitator lead the way. Be fully present; don’t make just a cameo or spend time scrolling through phone messages and texts. You’ll be letting people down — very publicly.
  • Listen more than you speak. If you speak first in answer to questions or during brainstorming or team exercises, you may close off discussion, even without knowing it. Your words carry greater weight than others, so don’t let them overpower the group.
  • Be non-defensive. If there are breakout groups or conversations in which people are critical of the status quo, don’t take it as a personal affront. Ask for more information. Be there to add, not subtract from the candor.
  • Serve as a myth-buster. One of the most important roles you can play is to clear the air on misunderstandings. Someone may suggest a course of action, to which another will reply, “We’ve been told we can’t do that.” Sometimes that’s true. But too often I’ve discovered that these are “urban legends” that haunt an organization. It’s one of the key reasons your presence is valuable, because you not only discover a rule you never knew you made, but you can let people know it’s not a rule at all. You should establish this “myth buster” role with the facilitator in advance of the session, so that person can call on you to say, “Is that the case?” or “Is there any flexibility here?”
  • Follow up. Workshops can bring people together, build connections, solutions and hope. But when they’re over, people often dash back to their assigned duties. They get busy, time passes, and soon people are saying, “That was another one of those events where we talk about change, offer ideas, get our hopes up, and then nothing happens.” Don’t let that be the case. Your job at the end of the session is to plan “next steps.” Think short term: quick wins you can easily do. Think longer term: changes that require more work, participation, and investment.
  • Communicate. Make that over-communicate. Let people know about those next steps and when to expect them. Then stay on the case. Provide regular updates on work that’s in progress.

Is there ever a time when managers should stay out of workshops? I can envision some circumstances in which people are eager to work things out among themselves on issues and would prefer their leaders join them after some of the initial work has been done. That should be an explicit understanding that everyone agrees to. 

Never assume people know the reasons you’re present for or absent from a gathering. Let them in on the back story and rationale.

Remember, as best as you can, be part of the learning, the sharing, and the reason the session wasn’t just talk — there were constructive action steps that followed.

Journalists believe that more facts get us closer to the truth, and that the way to make society stronger is by spotlighting what’s wrong. Many Americans disagree. New research shows us how to adjust our mix of stories, reframe our coverage, and write headlines to reach people who don’t fully embrace journalism values.

Join us Tuesday, May 25 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET for a National Press Club Headliners virtual event to learn new ways to build trust with the communities your journalism is failing to reach. 

Speakers include:
  • Jennifer Benz, vice president, NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Tom Huang, assistant managing editor for journalism initiatives, The Dallas Morning News
  • Tom Rosenstiel, executive director, American Press Institute
  • Emily Swanson, director of public opinion research, The Associated Press

Lisa Nicole Matthews, assignment manager of U.S. video for the Associated Press and the 114th president of the National Press Club, will moderate the panel.

Registration is open for this one-hour program, jointly produced by the National Press Club Journalism Institute and the National Press Club. The program will stream live on the websites of the Institute and Press Club, and on the Press Club’s YouTube Channel. It is accessible to the press and public at no cost, but registration is required.

Viewers can email their questions in advance or during the live program to, with “Trust” in the subject line.
This newsletter is written & edited by the National Press Club Journalism Institute staff: Beth Francesco, Holly Butcher Grant and Julie Moos. Send us your questions and suggestions for topics to cover.

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