September 14, 2020

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.

Americans are worried about bias in news but are generally more worried about the bias in your news than in their own. A new study from Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that six in seven Americans think there’s a fair amount of political bias in news coverage, and half said there’s a fair amount of bias in the news source they rely on most. But more than two-thirds (69%) said they’re more concerned with the bias in the news that others consume than in their own (29%). The study, which came from more than 20,000 interviews collected between November 2019 and February 2020, also found that younger, more educated Americans are more worried about bias in others’ media consumption.

More on legendary journalist Bob Woodward’s decision to hang on to quotes of President Donald Trump downplaying the coronavirus from February. On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, former CDC detective Dr. Seema Yasmin argued that Woodward should have shared the quotes, saying, “If you have information that can save even one life, let alone close to 200,000 lives, then you have a journalistic duty, an ethical duty to share that information.” Host Brian Stelter said it was interesting that Woodward spoke with Trump so often, “almost trying to coach Trump like a leadership coach, and I wonder in the coming days if Woodward will say that was part of his rationale for what he was doing.”

For Nieman Reports, Issac J. Bailey wrote that Woodward’s decision to hold the quotes until shortly before the publication of his new book, “Rage,” was unethical. Bailey said that we’ll never know if releasing them would have made an impact, “But we didn’t need a guarantee; we just needed a chance. Woodward could have provided it. It’s disturbing that he refused to.”

Woodward appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday night, where he talked with correspondent Scott Pelley about his last interview with Trump in August. Woodward said Trump told him that “nothing more could have been done” about the coronavirus. “Does he remember what he told me, back in February, about it’s more deadly than the flu?” Woodward said. “I mean it almost took my breath away, that there was such certainty, when he was absolutely wrong about the issue that defines the position of this country right now.”


SciLine’s next media briefing, Voting in 2020: Logistics, Safety, and Ballot Integrity, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Experts will discuss the logistics of in-person voting during a pandemic; the potential impacts of a surge in mail-in ballots; and related auditing and ballot-integrity challenges. Journalists, register now!

A journalist from KPCC in Los Angeles was tackled and arrested while covering a protest Saturday night. Video from ABC7 shows reporter Josie Huang being pinned to the ground by multiple officers. Officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff said that Huang had run toward the officers as they were trying to arrest a protester and that Huang “didn’t have proper credentials” and “did not identify herself as press,” though Huang later said she was wearing a lanyard with a press ID around her neck. She was sent to a nearby jail and cited with obstruction, which carries a potential $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Early Sunday morning, KPCC’s executive editor tweeted “So @josie_huang is out. A bit bruised but heading home,” with pictures of cuts and bruises to Huang’s knees and elbows. Huang shared more about her arrest on Twitter.

As we wait to see how the 2020 election unfolds, The Washington Post Magazine has a look back at the contentious Bush vs. Gore election 20 years ago. Former Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. wrote about leading coverage of that election. “‘This mission is more deeply felt by our staff than readers may realize,’ he wrote in an editor’s column reminding readers of the difference between news, opinion and editorials. ‘If we do our job well, the voters can best determine where the story goes from here.’ As it turned out, our job became trying to determine just what the voters had determined in the 2000 presidential election.”

Follow the wildfires out west with reporting from local journalists on the ground. Their work includes a fire map and tracker from the San Francisco Chronicle, coverage of the eerie sky from the (Salem, Oregon) Statesman Journal, updates and evacuation maps from KOBI-5 in Medford, Oregon, and a story of survival from The Oregonian.

Today’s Poynter Report was written by Kristen Hare and Ren LaForme.

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