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Need to Know: Aug. 29, 2017

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


You might have heard: BuzzFeed has eschewed display advertising since its launch: “It’s the end of direct; banners have been terrible for 18 years,” former BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg said in 2013. “If you’re even debating something is terrible, that means it’s terrible.” (CMO)

But did you know: BuzzFeed is abandoning its anti-banner ad stance, putting display ads on its homepage, story pages and apps (Business Insider)
Trying to monetize its own platforms more effectively, BuzzFeed will introduce display ads that will be bought and sold by third-party ad tech. Expect to see display ads on its homepage, story pages and across its mobile apps. “Our aims are both tactical and strategic,” BuzzFeed CEO and founder Jonah Peretti explains. “Tactically, programmatic has improved in terms of loading times, mobile experience, and ad quality and opens up another way for us to monetize our huge audience. The move also benefits our global strategy by allowing us to generate revenue in markets before we’ve built business teams to implement native monetization.”

+ Noted: The Newseum’s president and chief executive Jeffrey Herbst stepped down Monday as the museum’s board announced “a full-blown review of its long-troubled finances” (Washington Post); Facebook says it will no longer allow pages that share news articles marked as false to advertise and boost posts, limiting one major way that fake news spreads on the platform (Mashable); The Poynter Institute names Neil Brown, editor and vice president of The Tampa Bay Times, as its next president (Poynter); Quartz introduces bots as the hosts of its new morning newscast on Amazon Alexa devices (Bot Diaries)


Helping readers tell the difference between news and opinion: 7 good questions with Duke Reporters’ Lab’s Rebecca Iannucci
One possible explanation for declining trust in news organizations is blurry lines between news and opinion: If someone doesn’t like a commentator’s stance on particular issues, that could color how they look at everything else that news organization does. A new analysis by the Duke Reporters’ Lab found that news organizations employ inconsistent terminology and labeling when it comes to news and opinion, creating confusion for readers. We talked to Duke Reporters’ Lab project manager Rebecca Iannucci about the findings of the analysis, what news organizations can do to label stories better, and how trust and article labeling are related.


Journalists feel their most urgent training needs are mobile, data and video, a survey from RJI finds (Reynolds Journalism Institute)
When asked to rate their “most urgent” training needs, journalists surveyed by the Reynolds Journalism Institute said those needs were “presenting stories better for mobile audiences,” “using data journalism to develop enterprise stories,” and “editing video using smartphones.” The survey also found that 4 in 10 of the journalists surveyed said the most successful way they’ve learned digital skills is through an in-person workshop, followed by teaching themselves by watching videos or reading.


‘A rebrand is not a new logo, nor a new website. A rebrand is a critical look at ourselves, our audience and our future.’ (Adam Thomas, Medium)
The European Journalism Centre is undergoing a rebrand, seeking a visual identity that “reflects our new focus and our changing role in the landscape of European journalism.” European Journalism Centre’s director Adam Thomas explains that as connecting journalists with new ideas, through events, training, grants, research and media development. “What is a rebrand?,” Thomas wrote in his original announcement to the EJC team about the rebrand. “A rebrand is not a new logo, nor a new website. A rebrand is a critical look at ourselves, our audience and our future. It starts with this team and ends up with the question, ‘Does this reflect who we are?’ If the answer is yes, then we’ve been successful.”


The importance of talent and culture in digital transformation: Companies tend to focus on the next technology breakthrough, rather than cultivating talent who will lead digital transformation efforts (MIT Sloan Management Review)
When companies think about digital transformation, they tend to think about what the next breakthrough in technology will be. But that’s a misguided approach, Allison Ryder explains. “A core component of a winning digital transformation strategy is cultivating the talent who will lead the effort,” Ryder writes. “Building the right culture — one that’s ready to support company-wide change and adaptation — is a critical step toward becoming a digitally mature organization.”


Could The Guardian’s new nonprofit for philanthropic support squeeze out other news nonprofits? (Nieman Lab)
The Guardian announced on Monday morning the creation of a nonprofit organization to raise money from individuals and philanthropic organizations to support its journalism in the U.S. While the creation of this nonprofit will be good for The Guardian, some are questioning whether the nonprofit could hurt small nonprofit news outlets. “What’s good for The Guardian could end up being not so good for smaller organizations competing for the same dollars,” Ricardo Bilton writes.

+ “Big foundations will want to fund big name-brand media (Non Profits) while small/local/regional media non-profits still struggle for funding,” Raju Narisetti said (@raju, Twitter); Kyle Pope: “It’s going to take from the little guys, while buying the big guys more time. The foundations, meantime, will love the [attention].” (@kylepope, Twitter)

+ “Journalists … need to be more expert but they also need to be more ‘empathetic.’ They need to understand the ‘other’ lives better. That means getting out of the office physically and digitally, but it also means leaving the herd. … The news media must rediscover its interest in understanding the human.” (Charlie Beckett, Medium)


Reveal host Al Letson shielded a man from beating at an ‘anti-hate’ rally in Berkeley, Calif. (Reveal)
While covering “Rally Against Hate” in Berkeley, Calif., on Sunday, Reveal host Al Letson witnessed a man being attacked by a group of protestors. The man was balled up on the ground as he tried to fend off blows from several people, and Letson jumped in front of the attackers, protecting the man from further injury. The altercation was recorded by Mother Jones’ Shane Bauer. “Our editorial policy is clear: we are unbiased observers not participants,” said Reveal editor in chief Amy Pyle said on the incident. “However, in reviewing the video, it is clear that Al did not take sides. Instead, he responded as any of us might if we saw another human in distress.”

+ The man who shared a photo of a shark swimming down a street, claiming the photo was taken in Houston tells Craig Silverman, “Of course I knew it was fake, it was part of the reason I shared the bloomin’ thing. What I had expected was to tweet that and have my 1,300 followers in Scotland to laugh at it. This was, of course, the intent. … We are responsible for how we receive the information we’re getting. If people choose to be fooled by a shark swimming by a car, I don’t think it says a great deal about me” (BuzzFeed News)

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