Need to Know: Apr. 20, 2017

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


You might have heard: According to data from PageFair, there were as many as 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016 (Business Insider)

But did you know: Google is planning to include an ad blocking feature in Chrome, stripping out ad types deemed unacceptable by the Coalition for Better Ads (Wall Street Journal)
The mobile and desktop versions of Google Chrome could soon come with a built-in ad blocker, Jack Marshall reports. Marshall reports that while the details are not final, Google could announce the feature in the next few weeks. The ad blocker in Chrome would block unacceptable ad types, as defined by the Coalition for Better Ads’ recently released ad standards. That would include pop-ups, auto-play videos with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers, Marshall reports. “In one possible application Google is considering, it may choose to block all advertising that appears on sites with offending ads, instead of the individual offending ads themselves,” Marshall writes. “In other words, site owners may be required to ensure all of their ads meet the standards, or could see all advertising across their sites blocked in Chrome.”

+ Research from API and AP-NORC found that more modern forms of digital advertising designed with mobile in mind are more effective across a range of metrics — and older forms such as pop-ups are intrusive to users, making readers more likely to stop reading a story

+ Noted: A coalition of advocacy organizations including the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Index on Censorship are creating U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a site dedicated to compiling and maintaining a database of press freedom incidents in the United States: The website will be led by Politico digital and print media reporter Peter Sterne (Poynter); Axel Springer, parent company of Business Insider, takes a stake in Uber: Neither company shared how much was invested, but Axel Springer said “the nature of the investment wasn’t strategic — this was strictly a financial deal, as any traditional VC would make” (TechCrunch); Bloomberg is partnering with Postlight to create a tool for annotating news stories: The tool “could create an application that scans news articles for newsmakers (people, companies, institutions) and serves up financial data around them” (Poynter); Facebook announces new features for Messenger at its F8 conference, mostly focused on bots (Social Media Today)


Why journalists should take time to slow down: Giving yourself time to listen to your readers can be an important strategy to build trust (MediaShift)
Both news consumers and content creators could benefit from slowing down, Damian Radcliffe writes — and slowing down could be an important strategy when it comes to building trust with readers, he argues. “Journalists can no longer arrogantly assume they know best. Taking a step back to listen to our audience — and to understand what they are telling us — may contribute to better output,” Radcliffe writes. “Newsrooms may [also] be better served slowing down, prioritizing and identifying where to they can have the most impact with the depleted resources at their disposal.”


Snapchat is working with politicians in France to hold Q&As with voters and share info on how to vote (Digiday)
Snapchat Discover might not be known for political content in the U.S., but in France, the platform is “taking a lead role in creating political content,” Jessica Davies reports. Snapchat is working with French politicians ahead of the country’s election to hold Q&As with users through Discover and create geofilters on how to vote. Sened Dhab, head of social for French digital agency Darewin, says Snapchat is in a prime position to engage young voters, and potentially pivot the direction of Discover at the same time: “Snapchat is a fantastic network for getting millennials and the younger population engaged. If you can get them politically engaged, this is a great way to do it. And Snapchat does have that potential. It has the potential to become much more than a fun entertainment platform but more of a news platform like Twitter and Facebook.”

+ Spain’s El Diario is developing a new funding platform that would allow readers to donate to a specific story or area of coverage (


Lessons from service companies in building trust (Harvard Business Review)
For service companies (such as airlines), trust from their customers is the cornerstone of their business. Texas A&M marketing professor Leonard M. Berry outlines the circumstances under which service companies lose trust — and how they gain and keep trust. Here’s some lessons that could be applied within journalism: Companies maintain trust by being generous with customers when things go wrong and by including an explanation along with their apology for failure, and customers lose trust when mistakes follow a “pattern of failure” or the mistake is egregious (such as United forcibly removing a passenger from a flight).


Facebook has achieved a monopoly in multiple areas, and Instant Articles is just one example of how publishers could get locked into Facebook’s market (Stratechery)
“The problem is that Facebook isn’t simply a social network: the service is a three-sided market — users, content providers, and advertisers — and while the basis of Facebook’s dominance is in the network effects that come from connecting all of those users, said dominance has seeped to those other sides,” Ben Thompson writes. “We are in a situation where there is not a clear price: No content provider pays Facebook to post a link (although they can obviously make said link into an advertisement). However, Facebook does, at least indirectly, make money from that content: The more users find said content engaging, the more time they will spend on Facebook, which means the more ads they will see. This is why Facebook Instant Articles seemed like such a brilliant idea: On the one side, readers would have a better experience reading content, which would keep them on Facebook longer. On the other side, Facebook’s proposal to help publishers monetize — publishers could sell their own ads or, enticingly, Facebook could sell them for a 30% commission — would not only support the content providers that are one side of Facebook’s three-sided market, but also lock them into Facebook with revenue they couldn’t get elsewhere.”

+ At F8, Mark Zuckerberg said the company is developing a way to reader users’ minds (Recode): George Brock argues that route comes with three dangers for Facebook, including the loss of complex meanings, easier manipulation of truth online, and the blurring of truth and reliability (George Brock)


The high school students who investigated their principal were invited to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner by the Huffington Post (Washington Post)
The Huffington Post is bringing a table full of high school journalism students from Kansas as their guests to this year’s White House Correspondents’’ Dinner. The students from Pittsburg High School launched an investigation into the school’s new principal — and found that the principal had lied about her educational credentials. The students’ investigation led to the principal’s resignation. “There’s been a reconnection with the fundamentals of journalism — the brass tacks and the shoe leather. … I’m personally inspired by these kids,” Huffington Post editor Lydia Polgreen says.

+ A Fusion editor is taking road trips around the U.S. to work with local journalists: Features editor Nona Willis Aronowitz is trying to work with established journalists around the U.S., cultivate new voices, and build groups of local journalists that Fusion can partner with in the future (Poynter)