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CALL FOR RESPONDENTS
       
Identifying Online Harassment of Women Journalists
Get paid to help reduce harassment and abuse of journalists on social media


We are a team of researchers developing new computational tools designed to automatically identify abusive, offensive and harassing speech on social media platforms. As a first step, this work will develop tools that smartly identify the nuances of problematic speech targeted towards women journalists on Twitter. As such, we are offering $50 to women-identifying journalists who are willing to both share parts of their Twitter history with us (this can be easily downloaded from your Twitter account), and spend up to an hour using our interactive tool to label Tweets you've received. We believe that by getting your expert understanding of the kinds of Tweets that are problematic, we can develop better tools to help you manage your social media interactions according to your priorities and preferences.

We know this is a complicated and potentially sensitive problem, and are happy to answer questions about how we will use your data and what we will do with our results. Please use the link below to indicate your interest.


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EVENTS
                                   
Democratizing Journalism: News of, by and for the community
May 11th, 2021 | 2PM ET


City Bureau is a nonprofit news organization that’s been attracting attention and philanthropic support for its model of collaboration with the community it covers. City Bureau has brought a powerful new set of reporting tools to the South Side of Chicago – tools that are now being discussed in newsrooms around the country. Join us for a conversation about civic journalism and impact with City Bureau co-founder Darryl Holliday. Your host is Mariana Dale, reporter for KPCC-FM in Los Angeles.

This webinar is part of Local that Works, an initiative that spotlights media innovation, engagement, and collaboration. 

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Solutions Journalism 101
May 5th, 2021 | 10PM ET


This Solutions Journalism Network webinar will explore the ins and outs of solutions journalism, talk about why it’s important, explain key steps in reporting a solutions story, and share tips and resources for journalists interested in investigating how people are responding to social problems. We will also explore additional resources we have on hand for your reporting, including the Solutions Story Tracker, a database of more than 11,000 stories tagged by beat, publication, author, location, and more, a virtual heat map of what's working around the world.

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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

New union study claims gender, racial pay inequities in Gannett newsrooms
(Below is an excerpt from the original CJR piece which has been edited for length, clarity, and updated to reflect Gannett’s response to the public release of the study)

By Gabby Miller

 

Last week, NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America published a pay equity study on Gannett-owned newsrooms that found significant pay inequity for women and journalists of color, as well as further evidence of an overwhelmingly white, male workforce “less racially diverse than the U.S. as a whole.”

The NewsGuild study comes after Gannett’s pledge in August 2020 to better foster a “culture of inclusion” for women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups in their newsrooms. After merging with GateHouse Media in November 2019, Gannett is now the largest newspaper chain in the country, with more than 250 local daily newspapers in its portfolio. Nearly one in six newspapers across the US is owned by the publisher.

In a first of its kind report for the chain, Gannett released comprehensive data on workforce demographics across race, ethnicity, and gender last August. Gannett has pledged to update this data bi-annually. However, data on salaries is, at least for now, exclusively limited to unionized newsroom members within the company. The release of this information is required under U.S. labor laws and is why Gannett journalists involved in the study were limited to their own newsrooms’ earnings data.

The NewsGuild examined 441 full-time and 25 part-time, non-managerial workers’ median pay from fall 2020 across gender and race demographics in 14 Gannett-owned newsrooms belonging to the union, including newspapers such as the Palm Beach Post, the Indianapolis Star, and the Florida Times-Union. All of the workers in the study were on the editorial side of the newsrooms. The report found that Gannett-owned newsrooms are whiter and generally “less racially diverse than the communities they serve,” with the exception of a single newsroom in the study. 


The largest gender and racial pay disparities of all the bargaining units were found at the Arizona Republic, which is also the most diverse newsroom included in the study. There, journalists of color earned only 63 percent of white workers’ median pay and women earned a mere 61 percent of men’s median pay.
 

The report suggests that Gannett newsrooms have struggled to retain employees, particularly veteran women reporters and journalists of color. Many expressed concern about being driven out of the industry if pay inequity continues at its current rate. One Milwaukee Journal Sentinel journalist said they are “alarmed by the lack of mid-career female representation in our newsrooms and the dismal retention of female reporting talent. I can’t help but worry that I will become one of those vanishing statistics.” 

The data featured in the report was collected nine months ago, and is limited to non-management journalists in the bargaining units whose job titles were all standardized. Gannett took issue with this in an official comment to the Tow Center, arguing that “the NewsGuild document simply lumped all newsroom positions into broad categories” without consideration for geographic differences. The report’s methodology does, however, acknowledge that the size of each unit should be taken into account. The Gannett spokesperson also said they “strongly disagree with the [study’s] methodology and its findings” due to its “misleading” and “selective” use of outdated data on only a small subset of Gannett’s newspapers and remains committed “to ensuring equitable employment practices for all employees.”

Although the study examines just over five percent of Gannett-owned newsrooms, Sanders believes this is a “representative cross section” of the company. The report includes newsrooms ranging from the Kitsap Sun’s nine person unit in Bremerton, Washington to the Arizona Republic and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, both large metropolitan legacy newspapers with more than ninety members in their respective bargaining units. 

Jon Schleuss, NewsGuild-CWA President and former Los Angeles Times data journalist who worked on the newsroom’s pay study in 2018, says it’s typical for newspaper owners to wholly deny a pay study’s accuracy. “I think it’s really unfortunate for Gannett to be run by lawyers and business hacks and not by journalists and media professionals because what you’re seeing is a lawyer response, not actual accountability or solutions or specificity,” said Schleuss. “We have a duty to seek truth and report it and that’s what the journalists that put this [NewsGuild report] together did.” 

Sanders said Gannett journalists are willing to replicate the NewsGuild study on a larger scale if the publisher were to release anonymized pay data across all of its newsrooms. In an email exchange with the Tow Center prior to publication, a spokesperson at Gannett twice declined to answer whether the newspaper chain will be conducting its own public pay equity study in the future, instead explaining that they already “utilize a market-driven approach to compensation which ensures a fair review by role and responsibility.”

Following publication, Gannett released a public response on Twitter, labeling the report as a “misinformation campaign” meant “to disparage the Company in the court of public opinion,” taking issue with the study’s small sample size and “sweeping generalities.” While Gannett claims it’s “on a journey” toward diversity, equity and inclusion and has been transparent about its goals, it has yet to further expand on how it plans to achieve those goals—one of the largest motivating factors behind the union study.

STORIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
  • In the wake of last week’s Facebook announcement that the company, will spend $5 million paying local reporters to join its news platform,” Tow Center director Emily Bell tweeted about the fragility of introducing such a model into the already drought news media ecosystem. “Facebook can afford small marketing sums because of the way their business model treats other parts of the content creation chain. News workers like content moderators are not unionized or paid well,” she wrote in a Twitter thread that breaks down her CJR article from last week about “[platform] money creating decisions about local news independently of policy.” After the Facebook announcement, Twitter followed suit over the weekend with the announcement that the platform is launching a “national campaign to boost local news.” Axios scooped that the campaign will come in the form of “28 full-page, color ads in local newspapers...direct[ing] readers to Twitter Lists of local journalists. According to Twitter, the “goal is to help elevate local reporters' stories and draw awareness to their work, further increasing their followings.”
     

  • While mega-platforms trumpet their support for local news and journalists, those same organizations and employees are continuing to bleed from the industry. As reported by the Phoenix News Times, local newsrooms are losing employees at an alarming rate. “Staff at the [Arizona Republic] newspaper, the largest in Arizona, are quitting left and right. An estimated 21 employees left the paper between May 2020 and April 2021.” This reporting follows suit with the ongoing findings of the Tow Center, which has reported on the cutback and layoff crises in journalism, especially at the local level, since the start of the pandemic last year. Another newsroom slashed by layoffs last week was New York Public Radio, which cut 14 of its staff last week, according to the Current and tweets from employees. Last May, the non-profit, whose news organizations include WNYC and The Gothamist, received an $8.9 million PPP loan.
     

  • World Press Freedom day was on Monday, with UNESCO naming this year’s theme: “Information as public good.” One such example of information as a public good comes from Native News Online, a leading news outlet for Native and tribal communities across the country. In a letter from the publisher over the weekend, the outlet highlighted the importance of local reporting in the dissemination of COVID-19 resources and information over the past year. Other local outlets across the country proved to be community hubs for lifesaving information on stories related to devastating weather and power outages to vaccine access.  
     

  • The fight over the future of Tribune Publishing Co. continues. After Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss exited talks with NewsLight for a Tribune takeover, real estate mogul Stewart Bainum Jr. is planning to once again offer a bid, this time with an additional $100 million in debt financing on top of the $200 million he’s willing to put up of his own money. Bainum is currently searching for other investors “interested in preserving local journalism” to join him in a bid. As it stands, hedge fund Alden Global Capital remains the top bidder at $635 million, which Tribune journalists worry will bring deep cuts to their newsrooms. Meanwhile, Poynter reports that news unions are bringing “less uncertainty” for newsroom staffers amid industry-wide volatility that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. While union contracts haven’t brought all “roses and sunshine,” according to one journalist at The Progress, it’s given them more control over their jobs. And in a different take on the plight of local news, Jon Allsop of CJR makes the case in his latest newsletter, "Broadening the funding conversation—and not just the spotlight—on local news," for a future where government plays a larger role in public solutions for an industry in crisis, rather than a side note limited to “regulatory skirmishes with platforms.”

  • Tow Fellows Anthony Nadler and A.J. Bauer served as guest editors of the Harvard Kennedy School’s latest “Misinformation Review.” The special issue, “Propaganda Analysis Revisited,” includes original data, analyses and historical reviews of the roles of propaganda and misinformation not only on democracy, but also on the media itself.
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