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Need to Know: Aug. 11, 2017

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


You might have heard: On Wednesday, Facebook launched Watch, a dedicated tab for original video produced by Facebook’s partner content creators (TechCrunch)

But did you know: Early publisher partners for Facebook Watch include The Atlantic, Business Insider and Quartz (Nieman Lab)
Publishers are eager to partner with Facebook for its Watch tab, Ricardo Bilton writes, and early publisher partners for Watch include Mashable, Quartz and The Atlantic. Facebook is expected to add mid-roll ads soon, and TechCrunch reports that publishers will keep 45 percent of ad revenue. The Atlantic is producing two series for Watch: “Animalism,” which covers animal discoveries around the world, and “Myths You Learn in School,” which will debunk half-truths taught in schools. Meanwhile, Quartz will create shows that “that follow compelling characters and groundbreaking science shaping the future of the global economy.”

+ “In the short term, Facebook Watch will likely chip away at broadcasters’ video-on-demand ad revenue, say industry insiders. In the longer term, Facebook could make more ambitious content investments, like longer-form programming and live, global sports rights, bringing the quality of content more in line with TV” (Digiday)

+ Related: Facebook emphasizes its “shared” future with local news publishers (Street Fight)

+ Noted: BuzzFeed’s live news show “AM to DM” will premiere on Sept. 25 and “will aim to break news in real time in a way that’s like television, but produced for digital audiences and consumption” (Axios); The Maynard Institute is bringing on new funders and launching new diversity initiatives, including a program focused on “supporting and promoting around 200 people of color in media over the next five years” (Nieman Lab); BuzzFeed’s diversity numbers show that it’s slowly becoming less white and less male (Splinter); Facing a lawsuit from Charles Harder, TechDirt receives $250,000 to cover freedom of speech issues (TechDirt); raises $6.8 million in Series B funding after achieving profitability (Poynter)


The week in fact-checking
As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes how to get Google to recognize your fact-checks, how to explain the problem with misinformation to kids, and what Mozilla is doing about misinformation online.


What do trusted publishers do differently on social media? They don’t withhold information, and they write about politics more often (MediaShift)
A recent study from the Reynolds Journalism Institute analyzed the top trusted (and least trusted) news sources, finding that not all of the sources named were specific news sources. Taking a look at the most trusted publishers from that study, Gabriele Boland analyzes what those publishers did differently on social media: The most trusted publishers tended to write about politics more often, they keep their headlines objective, they don’t try to incite negative reactions with their stories, and they don’t withhold information on social media.

+ “Many experts say lack of trust will not be a barrier to increased public reliance on the internet. Those who are hopeful that trust will grow expect technical and regulatory change will combat users’ concerns about security and privacy,” Pew Research Center’s Internet & Technology project writes on trust online (Pew Research Center); Earlier: Research from API shows that who shares an article on social media has more influence over whether people trust it than the original source


A new initiative led by a Polish newspaper is bringing together female editors across Europe to curate stories from their newsrooms about European issues (
NewsMavens, a new project led by Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, asks the question: “Would a news agenda and front page put together entirely by female editors differ from the standard mass media narrative?” NewsMaven, which is receiving financial support from Google’s Digital News Initiative, is bringing together female editors from European newspapers to curate stories from their newsrooms on European news and issues. “Thinking about women’s role in newsrooms, a question came to me: If we’re not the ones saying ‘this has to be on front page,’ or ‘this issue has to be followed,’ if it’s not women who are making these calls, the narrative we have about current events and reality is a male dominated narrative. And I’m not sure whether a female dominated narrative about news is going to differ from the standard mass media one, but I’m very curious to find out,” explains project lead and Wysokie Obcasy digital editor Zuzanna Ziomecka.

+ A satirical news site in Venezuela is “revealing the absurd” in the country’s politics and government (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)


‘Firing James Damore Could Be a Setback for Google’s Diversity Goals’ (Harvard Business Review)
By firing James Damore, the engineer who wrote a controversial manifesto criticizing Google’s diversity policies, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox argues that Google could actually be setting back its diversity goals. Wittenberg-Cox explains: “The lesson companies should learn from this is simple. If you don’t engage with your ‘in-group,’ their frustration and emotions will come out in the only space they feel is available to them: online, at the water cooler, in your retention statistics, and even, statistics show, in the form of sexually harassing the women they feel are invading ‘their’ turf. … The challenge is how to manage the feelings and frustrations of the existing dominant in-group.”

+ Google canceled a meeting on Thursday that was supposed to discuss the memo after employees expressed concern that they would be exposed to harassment online: “We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward. … Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the email to staff canceling the meeting (New York Times)


The timeline behind Fox News’ Seth Rich story, and Rod Wheeler’s role in the story (CNN Media)
Fox News’ story on DNC staffer Seth Rich’s death was discredited within hours of its publication — but it took seven days for Fox News to retract the story. CNN takes a look at the timeline of the story’s story’s publication and former Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler’s role in the story. “In the day leading up to the article’s publication, Wheeler went rogue. In doing so, he sent the network’s editorial process into chaos, and as a result the article was rushed to the site without undergoing the kind of editorial scrutiny it should have received,” CNN’s Oliver Darcy writes.

+ Seth Rich’s father Joel told NPR earlier this week, “The actions … when Mr. Wheeler and Fox News published this [story] were almost as bad for us as when we first learned of Seth’s death” (NPR)


Here’s 4 of the most expensive news subscriptions and what they offer their customers (Digiday)
Publishers in areas such as politics or finance can command high subscription prices — a model that’s increasingly seen as viable for publishers. Digiday’s Max Willens takes a look at four of the most expensive news subscriptions, and what they’re offering their subscribers in return. For example, Emerging Technology Council, which was launched in 2016 by Wired, Ars Technica, Backchannel and Traction Technology Partners, costs up to $4,000/year for up to four memberships, and offers subscribers in-person meetings with tech startups and others in the tech community, a private Slack channel, and a monthly newsletter.


+ Franklin Foer writes about the New Republic’s shift to a traffic-supported site and Silicon Valley’s role in that fundamental change (The Atlantic); Chris Moran’s response: “What went wrong at the New Republic? It wasn’t data. If the piece can be taken at face value, it was a complete and abject failure of anyone involved, including Foer, to think about whether an ad-driven business model could ever work for ‘something close to a cult’ with a readership that ‘couldn’t fill the University of Mississippi’s football stadium.’ This bit, surely, is obvious: If your plan involves entirely changing your journalism to secure your future, then you probably need to give it more thought.” (Chris Moran, Medium)

+ Facebook is sitting on a trove of information on Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential election, including “who controlled the accounts that posted fake news; who paid for ads that targeted that content at specific users in voter districts; and who, if anyone, provided voter information that helped fuel the suspiciously effective Russian cyber-ops on Facebook” (Vice)

+ Does reading local news make you think about crime more — and why does that matter? Anne Helen Peterson writes: “Crime and accidents are events in the community. They are news. There are benefits to reporting them … But instant crime stories — especially straight facts/no reporting stories — frame crime as something that happens to people, a generalized, ever-present menace. They do not contextualize how individuals become criminals. They do not compare crime rates to national and historical averages.” (Anne Helen Peterson); Montana-based journalist Hunter Pauli on crime’s relation to journalism: “While the minor crime stories churned out by the thousands every day have an enormous, devastating long-term effect on their subjects, all but the most heinous of offenses are simply not worth reporting and are a waste of resources already stretched thin. No one becomes a more informed member of their community after 30 seconds spent reading a story about a homeless woman who shoplifted meat. They just laugh and move on.” (Guardian)

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