Up for Debate

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

Harper’s publisher Rick MacArthur on why publishers should be less dependent on strict editorial goals

“You can’t calculate every morning what will work financially,” Harper’s publisher Rick MacArthur says. “I meet these people all the time who say, ‘If we just get our editors to think more digitally, or more about consumer category X, Y and Z, we will be successful.’ It doesn’t work that way and is very boring. […]

Forbes may have loosened its restrictions on ad blockers

After asking users with ad blockers enabled to disable them before accessing its website, Forbes appears to have loosened its restrictions, Laura Hazard Owen writes. Some Twitter users reported that they were allowed to access Forbes content with an ad blocker enabled, while some others were still stopped. Owen writes: “Not surprisingly, all of these […]

Jeff Bezos: Public figures such as Peter Thiel need to learn to deal with media criticism

Speaking at the Code Conference, Amazon CEO and owner of The Washington Post Jeff Bezos spoke out against Peter Thiel’s funding of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker. Bezos argued that public figures such as Thiel need to learn how to better deal with criticism from the media. Bezos said: “The best defense to speech that […]

Felix Salmon: By funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, Peter Thiel set a dangerous precedent that could be emulated by other billionaires

Peter Thiel acknowledged Wednesday that he funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media, spending about $10 million to help “victims” of Gawker in an act of “deterrence.” That sets a dangerous precedent, Felix Salmon writes: “If Thiel’s strategy works against Gawker, it could be used by any billionaire against any media organization. Sheldon Adelson, Donald […]

The media industry needs to focus on relevance and value, rather than the volume of work produced

“We still treat the public we serve as a mass, all the same, delivering a one-way, one-size-fits-all product that we fill with a commodity we call content,” Jeff Jarvis writes. “Rather than continuing to try to maintain our content factory, whose real business is selling eyeballs by the ton, imagine instead if news were a […]

The Washington Post’s union says women make on average 86 percent of what men make

After it was asked by members to look into pay disparities at the Washington Post, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild says that women earn on average 86 percent of what men at the Post earn. Broken down by job, male reporters earn $7,000 more, male columnists earn $23,000 more, and male producers earn $4,000 more than […]

Is Facebook’s filtering any better or worse than our own filtering of what we choose to read?

“Here’s the question we should be asking about ‘bias’ in Facebook’s news feed,” The Wall Street Journal’s Chris Mims writes. “Is it substantially worse than in the heyday of newspapers and magazines, when readers in major cities could choose to get their news from among a dozen or more publications tailored to their biases? … […]

Mark Zuckerberg is hosting a summit for conservative leaders on Wednesday

About a dozen conservative leaders are headed to Facebook on Wednesday, including Glenn Beck and Dana Perino. After Gizmodo reported that some of Facebook’s news curators suppressed conservative news, Mark Zuckerberg said last week that he would meet with conservatives and people across the political spectrum to discuss it. Beck says that Zuckerberg will be […]

Facebook influences the news feed by rewarding publishers that publish what it wants to see

In the story about Facebook news curators suppressing conservative news, Recode’s Peter Kafka writes that many people are missing the real story about how Facebook influences what stories you see: Facebook has very specific ideas about what kinds of stories it wants in the news feed, and it rewards the publishers that publish those kinds […]

New York dominates the podcasting industry, putting it at risk of only broadcasting a narrow viewpoint

The Internet is pushing the journalism industry toward the coasts, making journalism centralized in a few cities including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. That’s bad for the podcasting industry, Adam Ragusea writes, because the barrier to entry is now higher. For someone who may not come from a financially privileged background, moving […]