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Need to Know: Apr. 18, 2017

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism


You might have heard: Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory sent staff a 3,000-word memo on Monday, outlining the Globe’s plan for digital reinvention (Boston Globe)

But did you know: The Boston Globe’s plan for digital reinvention is to be ready for constant change (Poynter)
After a year of rethinking what they do and how they do it, The Boston Globe’s plan for digital reinvention has arrived. Some of the changes coming to the Globe are ones that have implemented elsewhere: Days will begin earlier, staff will receive more training, and they’ll double down on focusing on their audience. And as Poynter’s Kristen Hare writes, part of this will be preparing the newsroom for constant change: “Let’s accept upfront that this will be a disruptive stretch, pretty much starting right now, despite all good efforts to prevent it,” McGrory writes in the memo. Here’s some other changes that will be coming to the Globe: An “express” desk will be created to report news as it happens and the “quirky and just plain fascinating stories that metrics show our readership craves,” an audience engagement team will be created that includes reporters, editors and producers, and a separate print desk will be created.

+ Noted: The New York Times is revamping its datelines, replacing a location at the beginning of the article with “By Steven Erlanger in London” (New York Times); Bustle acquires Elite Daily from Daily Mail, and is rebranding as Bustle Media Group (Business Insider); Sean Spicer argues in response to questions about Trump’s commitment to transparency that “greater public disclosure [is] unnecessary, intrusive or even harmful” (New York Times); The International Center for Journalists is conducting a global survey of newsrooms to “shed much-needed light on how news media professionals around the world are embracing the digital revolution” (ICFJ); Trump is motivating Vanity Fair, New Yorker and other news organizations to shift toward business models supported by readers (The Street)


Growing a distributed brand beyond Facebook: Lessons from Business Insider’s ‘Insider’ brand (Digiday)
Business Insider’s distributed lifestyle vertical Insider launched 19 months ago — and now the company is starting to think about how to diversify the brand beyond Facebook. According to data from SimilarWeb, 75 percent of Insider’s traffic comes from social media, and nearly all of that is from Facebook. Insider’s editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson explains that Insider has found that videos posted directly to its website are more successful if they have some sort of service component — a finding that goes in opposition to what they’ve found works on Facebook. “You have the build the product that the audience wants, and I think they want the content where they already are,” Carlson says of Insider’s strategy.


A Croatian news app was created under the premise that news discovery has become too personalized (Nieman Lab)
The news and information we encounter is becoming increasingly personalized, from our algorithmically controlled news feed to personalized homepages from publishers such as NYT. A news app launched Friday in Croatia is starting from the assumption that personalization isn’t necessarily a good thing. Twain relies on “100 custom-designed algorithms and processes” to scan news sites, providing an overview of the stories that are trending on the Internet that you might not come across in your own feeds. “The idea is to get the editor out of the way,” says Twain’s creator Miran Pavic, who is also a content director for Croatian news site Telegram. “Personalized algorithms make it less likely that Salon readers will bump into Breitbart content; Twain, on the other hand, makes that more likely to happen, and more desirable. Discovery works best if you get exposed to stuff you never knew existed.”


‘Lots of people are saying that Instagram just officially “killed Snapchat” Here’s why they’re wrong’ (Taylor Lorenz, Medium)
When Facebook announced last week that Instagram Stories had reached 200 million daily active users (DAUs), some were quick to declare that Instagram Stories “killed” Snapchat. But Taylor Lorenz explains that to compare Instagram Stories’ 200 million DAUs with Snapchat’s 16 million DAUs is like comparing apples with oranges, and the two apps shouldn’t be treated the same. Lorenz explains that Instagram Stories is not its own app, and Instagram Stories’ DAUs includes “anyone who checks Instagram Stories on a daily basis.” “Assuming that Instagram has grown from the 400M DAUs it had in February, that means that under half of Instagram’s total daily user base engages with a feature that has been shoved into their feeds and promoted aggressively within the platform. This is far from an achievement  —  it’s unsurprising,” Lorenz writes.

+ Why you should mentor people who aren’t like you: “[Mentoring people similar to you] means that growth and advancement opportunities go disproportionately to those who belong to the demographic or social group that’s already in power. … Telling our protégés that diversity matters won’t change a thing. We must demonstrate our commitment to it by deliberately mentoring people who aren’t like us. Otherwise, we do what’s comfortable, and we risk saying with our actions that we care about cultivating the talents of a homogeneous few,” Richard Farnell writes (Harvard Business Review)


The question of whether Facebook is a publisher is raised again as the video of a murder is published on Facebook (Poynter)
“By now, it’s a common refrain,” Ben Mullin writes. “Facebook insists that it’s not a media company, even though it does exactly what most news organizations do: Show its users advertising that’s adjacent to content relevant to their interests.” But once again, Facebook has run into a contradiction to that claim, raising questions once more about whether Facebook is a publisher. On Sunday, a Facebook user in Cleveland uploaded a video of himself killing a man and boasting about killing several other people. Facebook removed and condemned the video, but not before it had been widely shared — and raised new questions about Facebook’s ability to police content.

+ On Monday, Facebook released a timeline of events from the video’s upload to removal: The first video was first uploaded to Facebook at 11:09 a.m. PDT and another video followed at 11:11 a.m.; at 11:22 a.m., the suspect confesses to the murder while streaming to Facebook Live; at 12:59 p.m., the first video is reported to Facebook; at 1:22 p.m., the user’s account is disabled and the videos are no longer visible to the public (Facebook Newsroom)

+ “Facebook relies on other Facebook users to flag videos that need to be taken down. But that means that someone has to watch the horror before others can be spared it. The onus falls to the viewers, not the company, to determine what is appropriate, what should be shared, and what should be flagged for removal,” Emily Dreyfuss writes. “If Facebook hopes to reflect humanity, [Sunday’s] murder suggests that it will sometimes show us things we’d prefer not to see” (Wired); Kurt Wagner proposes making Facebook Live available only to select partners: “If Facebook limited the live broadcasting feature to selected partners, it wouldn’t need to worry about incidents where people accidentally broadcast a live murder, or talk about a murder they just committed. To be sure, in the Cleveland incident, limiting Live wouldn’t have prevented the video of the killing, but emphasizing vetted partners would set a more professional tone for Facebook video altogether” (Recode)


Margaret Sullivan: ‘Great local reporting stands between you and wrongdoing. And it needs saving.’ (Washington Post)
“Knowledge and depth is precisely what’s in trouble as newspaper staffs decline across the country, with many companies struggling to stay solvent after the precipitous — and accelerating — decline in print advertising revenue,” Margaret Sullivan writes on the value of local reporting to keeping government accountable. “There’s no easy fix. It’s a much knottier problem than finding digital-age solutions on the national level because the work needs to be done in so many different communities around the country. … ‘Sustained outrage’ is vitally important. So is keeping it alive.”

+ “We need LGBTQ media because no one else is going to speak for us. We are planting a flag in the sand to say: ‘We’re here, we exist, and you can’t get rid of us,’” says Curve magazine editor in chief Merryn Johns on how LGBTQ organizations are expanding under Trump’s presidency (CJR)


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