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Need to Know: Aug. 30, 2017

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


You might have heard: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed last week that Facebook will let local news publishers keep 100 percent of subscription revenue generated from Instant Articles (Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook)

But did you know: Publishers talking with Facebook is progress, but more needs to happen, Hearst’s Robertson Barrett says (Street Fight)
“Hearst is an alpha partner in this subscriptions effort with Facebook, and we consider ourselves a collaborative partner who is helping to inform the effort and make it work. … [But] while this 100% revenue commitment by Zuckerberg is initially helpful, we don’t know if that revenue share will persist in the future,” Hearst Newspapers Digital Media president Robertson Barrett says in a Q&A with Street Fight. “The ideal endgame is that publishers as well as Facebook have direct consumer relationships and the ability to re-market quality content to consumers. We won’t achieve this unless Facebook invests as much in the user experience as the most dedicated publishers do, and Facebook moves to support frictionless payments for subscriptions. … It’s one thing to offer publishers 100% of subscription revenues while the paid experiment is small.”

+ Noted: Body-slammed report Ben Jacobs says Greg Gianforte is now refusing a promised on the record interview (CNN Media); A federal judge dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times (CNN Media), saying “negligence, maybe. But ‘not defamation of a public figure’” (@ErikWemple, Twitter); A veteran journalist is accusing NYT of age discrimination in a lawsuit filed last month in federal court (JB Nicholas, Medium); ProPublica is asking people who have experienced hate speech on Facebook to help them investigate how Facebook’s censorship policies work (ProPublica); OpenNews is conducting its News Nerds survey to help understand how people in journalism are working and what’s most important to them (OpenNews)


Lessons from Katrina for newsrooms covering Hurricane Harvey: Know when to send people home and look to other outlets for support (Poynter)
When covering a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, the journalists who are reporting are often victims themselves, says former New Orleans TV news director Sandy Breland. Poynter’s Al Tompkins talks to journalists who covered Katrina about what lessons can be applied to covering Hurricane Harvey. Some highlights: Pay attention to when people seem emotionally spent and know when to send them home, look to other news outlets for support, and be ready to provide food, shelter and even crisis counselors if necessary.

+ One major way coverage of Harvey differs from Katrina is the role of social media: “We’re seeing the power and — occasionally — the perils of social media’s reach,” Pete Vernon writes (CJR): “All these Harvey hoaxes [on social media] are another reminder of how hard it is to fight fake news” (Fast Company)


BuzzFeed is partnering with Latvia-based Meduza to produce more substantive reporting on Russia (Nieman Lab)
“Audience-wise, I think Russia stories are so hot right now, and there isn’t a huge amount of reporting coming out of there,” BuzzFeed’s world editor Miriam Elder says. BuzzFeed is looking to increase its reporting on Russia by partnering with Meduza, a news organization based in Latvia that launched less than three years ago. Here’s how the partnership will work: BuzzFeed will pay for investigations it commissions with Meduza, and the sites will share stories, with Meduza translating some BuzzFeed stories. However, Elder notes that this isn’t necessarily the beginning of a full Russia site for BuzzFeed.

+ Here’s how U.S.-based ORBmedia publishes its stories in four different formats and four different languages (


What you can learn from culture clashes at Uber and Google: Making your company’s policies less vague will more clearly define your culture (Fast Company)
High-profile culture crises at Uber and Google in the past year are symptoms of a common problem in workplaces, Rex Conner writes: Policies that were thought to be clear “proved much more subjective and open to interpretation than human resource execs might’ve hoped.” Conner explains a process companies can go through to demystify these policies, defining what actions or situations would constitute “unwelcome conduct,” for example. “The problem with [vague expressions such as ‘an inclusive team’ or ‘unwelcome conduct’] is that it puts managers in the tenuous position of being the judge,” Conner explains. “Yes, you want bosses to have good judgment, but you don’t want unclear work processes to cause them to make subjective, inconsistent, and potentially biased decisions on what should be done, how it should be done, and how it should be evaluated. That opens each situation to potential conflict, not to mention legal liabilities.”


‘This is how minorities end up getting pushed out of media opportunities’ (Meredith Talusan, Medium)
“It only takes one person in a position of power to entirely undermine someone’s work,” Meredith Talusan writes. “In startup media, that person is usually a white man.” Talusan explains her experience working on a series for Mic about trans-related violence, and how unconscious biases led to “being erased from my own project.” Talusan writes: “This is how minorities end up getting pushed out of media opportunities. We don’t get our due credit for our work but we can’t complain about it, so instead other people are promoted before us. And when we do complain about it, we’re considered difficult and hard to work with, so we end up not given opportunities either.”


Under the Trump administration, journalists are increasing their security protocols for communicating with government sources (Vanity Fair)
Given the Trump administration’s crackdown on leaks, journalists are changing the way they interact with government sources. “We’ve always taken great steps to protect our sources. Now we’re taking steps like we’ve never taken before,” a national security journalist told Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo. Pompeo reports that while some sources might have been OK exchanging quick emails or texts, many now insist on using encrypted messaging app Signal. “Disposable phones are another trick of the trade that came up in my conversations, as well as two other ingenious technologies: face-to-face meetings and snail mail,” Pompeo reports.

+ The Sunlight Foundation is creating a $125,000 grant for news organizations to cover Trump’s conflicts of interest (Sunlight Foundation)

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