July 8, 2020

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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.

NBCUniversal News Group’s chairman wants a 50% diverse workforce, Stephen Battaglio reported for the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. Cesar Conde is the first Latino to serve as chairman and oversees 3,000 employees at NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC. Battaglio reported that 27% are people of color. An internal video laying out the plan did not include a timeline for making it happen. “Conde, who is calling the initiative the ‘50% Challenge,’ said he wants the division to reflect the demographic trend in the country.” Leaders in other newsrooms, including the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, are also working to address the issue.

In an upcoming book, Mary Trump — niece of President Donald Trump — reveals her role in The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the president’s tax returns, CNN reported. The story, published in October 2018, detailed at length how the president dodged taxes and participated in outright fraud. Mary Trump shares how Times reporter Susanne Craig initially reached out to her and continued to follow up. It led to Mary Trump agreeing to help and furnishing Times reporters with 19 boxes worth of documents relating to the estate of Fred Trump, the president’s father and Mary Trump’s grandfather. She writes, “When I showed (the Times’ reporters) the boxes, there were hugs all around. It was the happiest I’d felt in months.”

Several conservative media sites were catfished by fake Middle East experts who are pushing propaganda, an investigation in The Daily Beast found. In the past year, a network of at least 19 fake personas published more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications, including the Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The National Interest and Newsmax. To make them seem more credible, each persona was created using stolen or artificial intelligence-generated avatars and had a detailed, fictitious biography. Two websites, The Arab Eye and Persia Now, were also created to plug the writing of these personas. Ironically, the websites and the personas claimed to be defenders against fake news and biased narratives.

When public radio station WNYC announced it had hired Audrey Cooper away from the San Francisco Chronicle as its new editor-in-chief, much of the staff revolted, according to a piece by Ginia Bellafante for The New York Times. Staff previously told management they wanted a leader who understood New York, was a person of color and came from radio. Instead, Bellafante wrote, their new boss is “a white woman who lived in California, grew up in Kansas and was not from the world of audio.” The piece notes that Cooper was the first woman to serve as editor of the Chronicle and, according to New York Public Radio’s Goli Sheikholeslami, is beloved by reporters. Bellafante wrote “part of what has also left so many at WNYC upset is the corporate, inorganic nature of the search that resulted in Ms. Cooper’s appointment. It was led by an outside consultant, a Harvard M.B.A. and headhunter — the station’s diversity and inclusion officer was not brought into the process.”

The New York Times named Charo Henríquez its new head of Newsroom Development and Support. That team, previously known as Digital Transition, is responsible for training the newsroom. Henríquez, according to a press release, will “be heading up the team at a pivotal moment in its evolution — as it works more closely with Product teams, develops new embedded training approaches and expands newsroom support efforts.” Following the news, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists tweeted “We looked up ‘thriving’ in @MerriamWebster this morning and there was a photo of @charohenriquez.” Henríquez has been at the Times for almost three years. Before that, she worked as the digital executive editor at People en Español.

Today’s edition of the Poynter Report was written by Kristen Hare, Nicole Asbury and Eliana Miller.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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