September 27, 2022

Good morning, everyone. Tom Jones is on vacation, but the team at Poynter is keeping tabs on the latest media news and analysis. Here’s what you need to know today.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists late last week expressed solidarity with its members and journalists in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic who are covering the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

“While the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Fiona is still being assessed, much of Puerto Rico has been impacted by a widespread power outage as well as catastrophic flash flooding, forcing journalists to work in challenging circumstances,” the media advisory read.

The organization, which has a professional chapter and several student chapters on the island of Puerto Rico, also called on media outlets to provide their journalists with the tools to protect their mental and physical health. “We also call on news media organizations at the national level to provide sustained coverage and monitoring of this disaster and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other regions hit by the storm,” the release stated.

The deadly storm sparked an island-wide blackout in Puerto Rico, five years after Hurricane Maria inflicted more damage there than any other disaster in recent history, according to The New York Times. Hurricane Fiona also tore through an area of the Dominican Republic with heavy tourism.

For more about the devastation and trauma still felt in Puerto Rico, listen to this nuanced “Post Reports” podcast episode featuring Washington Post reporter Arelis R. Hernández. There’s a lot of good reporting on both hurricanes’ impact on the lives of Puerto Ricans, but one report of note is Sin Luz: Life Without Power, an award-winning immersive video interactive from 2017 produced by Hernández and colleagues Whitney Leaming and Zoeann Murphy.

This week, we are thinking of the journalists on the ground in the Caribbean, keeping on record the impact felt on their communities — and are bracing ourselves here in the U.S., where journalists are diligently covering Hurricane Ian.

Tampa Bay hurricane coverage

Tired of seeing Florida in the news? Man, so are a lot of Floridians, but alas, the weather means you’re going to be hearing about us all week. Thankfully, our local journalists and newsrooms are working to help us stay safe and informed. Here are a few favorites so far:

  • The Tampa Bay Times, which Poynter owns, created a searchable tool to help people see if their neighborhood sits in a hurricane flood zone. The Times has removed its storm coverage paywall.
  • Axios Tampa Bay has a list of storm terms to know.
  • The Florida Public Emergency Network includes 13 public radio stations that all share reporting through the app Florida Storms. You can see updates on Twitter.

And that’s just Tampa Bay. If you’re seeing great coverage in other parts of Florida, please let us know at

JCPA moves forward

On a third try late last week, a bill that would give local news outlets the power to negotiate collectively for compensation from Google and Facebook won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. A version of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which creates an antitrust exemption, now goes to the full Senate.

Sponsor Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) agreed with Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on the wording of an amendment to keep negotiations entirely about finances without any reference to content moderation. Cruz and others have argued that conservative viewpoints are already getting blocked on the platforms and that might be extended to qualifying outlets that lean right.

Though taking a big step forward Thursday, the act still needs to be moved to the Senate floor for action and be approved. Plus the process needs to be duplicated on the House side. Lobbyists for the big platform companies can be expected to fight it.

A good sign was the 15-7 vote in favor of moving the bill out of committee. Cruz joined Republican co-sponsor John Kennedy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in support. That should create some bipartisan momentum.

How to make a newspaper

The New York Times For Kids devoted part of its September issue to teaching students how to start their own school newspaper. The guide, which can only be found in print, includes an annotated newspaper template, as well as tips from Times reporters and other student journalists. The issue came out Sunday, but if you missed it, the New York Times store is selling copies online for $5 each.

How obits work

Ever wonder how news organizations are able to publish obituaries just moments after the death of notable figures? It’s not a conspiracy. Many news organizations prewrite obituaries for people of note. In “Some news organizations have hundreds of obituaries ready to publish,” Poynter media reporter Angela Fu goes behind the scenes on how they pick who to cover, how often they’re updated and more.

Media tidbits

  • The Washington Post on Monday announced Elahe Izadi as a co-host of “Post Reports,” the news organization’s flagship podcast. Izadi, who covers media for the Post, will join senior audio host Martine Powers after regularly guest hosting since the spring, according to the Washington Post PR Blog.
  • Kara Swisher had a long chat with former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo for her new podcast, “On With Kara Swisher.” One interaction of note (of many): Swisher said, “You do have a lot of friends at CNN. You have not talked to them, correct? Don Lemon or Jake Tapper or  Zucker himself?” Cuomo replied, “Well, no. I mean, look, after Jeff fired me, I mean, there wasn’t a lot for us to talk about.”

Today’s Poynter Report was written by Amaris Castillo, Kristen Hare, Rick Edmonds, Angela Fu and Ren LaForme.

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