Up for Debate

This subsection of the Need to Know newsletter offers points of debate and discussion about what’s happening in journalism.

Emily Bell: Facebook is being turned into something it doesn’t want to be, ‘the underpinning framework of a free press’

“Facebook is finding itself under almost constant pressure to be more transparent, despite the fact that by the standards of some legacy media it is the model of openness,” Emily Bell writes. “Facebook is being taken somewhere it never wanted to go — into being the underpinning framework of a free press. The weakened news […]

Liz Spayd calls for the NYT to be more transparent in why substantial story edits happen

“Readers, I believe, are far more sophisticated than they’re given credit for and want more transparency in stories that are shapeshifting before their eyes,” New York Times public editor Liz Spayd writes. “When changes affect a story’s overall tone or make earlier facts obsolete, or when added context recasts a story, readers should be told.” […]

Trump’s presidential campaign could be an opportunity for news organizations to take firmer stances on politicians’ statements

“Trump’s campaign would appear to be an opening for news organizations to add value for their audiences by coming to firmer conclusions on politicians’ statements,” David Uberti writes, “Or, to borrow a phrase often bastardized by outsider politicians, telling it like it is.” While news organizations that tend to be more openly opinionated in their […]

Journalists have an obligation to call out politicians’ lies and need to try new tactics to take down misinformation

“Simply calling out lies is not enough,” Dan Gillmor writes on the obligation of debate hosts and journalists alike to call out politicians’ lies. “Once the lie is spoken out loud, even a quick rebuttal — assuming it’s issued on the spot — doesn’t undo all the damage. This is partly because repeating a lie, […]

Dan Rather expresses concern about the transparency of Facebook’s algorithms

In a note on Facebook, Dan Rather expressed concern about the transparency of Facebook’s “mysterious algorithms,” while noting the benefits of Facebook for news : “I … worry about the opaqueness of Facebook and its mysterious algorithms. My team and I try to figure out why some posts seem to ‘hit’ and are shared thousands […]

The risk of Tronc’s ‘just say no’ defense against Gannett’s bid: If Gannett doesn’t acquire Tronc, the company could be left to wither

“If [Michael] Ferro’s goal in resisting was to push up Gannett’s price, then he is doing a masterly job,” Steven Davidoff Soloman writes of Tronc’s “just say no” defense to Gannett’s bids thus far. “‘Just say no’ as a defense is a gamble. It depends on how steely the management and board are and what […]

How the rise of mobile could create a ‘a second-class digital citizenship’ of less informed news consumers

According to a new report from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, the rise of mobile has a dark side that could lead to the creation of a less engaged, “second-class digital citizenship” made up of less informed news consumers. Somewhat paradoxically, the report’s research Joanna Dunaway says that smartphones are an imperfect tool for consuming news, due […]

Mike Pence says Trump’s campaign will be available to the media, including blacklisted news outlets

Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate Mike Pence says that Trump’s campaign is considering lifting the bans it’s imposed on media outlets including Politico, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed. While he defended his own track record with the media, Pence said in a radio interview on Friday: “We’re going to have those conversations internally and I […]

The world isn’t getting any better or worse, but our access to information is getting better

Speaking at annual marketing conference Postback, futurist Ray Kurzweil said it’s not that the world is getting any worse, it’s that our access to news and information is much better than it used to be: “People think the world’s getting worse, and we see that on the left and the right, and we see that […]

News publishers have placed too much faith in Facebook’s ability to monetize content

Few publishers seem happy with Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, Frederic Filloux writes, but there’s not much they can do because many publishers have put too much faith in Facebook. News companies started to believe they were as indispensable to Facebook as Facebook was to them, but Facebook’s de-prioritization of news in its feed shows that’s […]