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Need to Know: Dec. 13, 2017

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


You might have heard: Doug Jones won Alabama’s Senate race last night, defeating Roy Moore and becoming Alabama’s first Democratic senator in 25 years (New York Times)

But did you know: Rather than running against Jones, Roy Moore was running a campaign against the national news media, Brian Stelter argues (CNN Money)
Roy Moore’s campaign in Alabama could be a preview of Republicans’ midterm election strategy, Brian Stelter argues: Echoing Trump’s appeal to his base, Moore’s campaign message was, “A vote for me is a vote against the no-good media.” Moore implied that The Washington Post’s reporting was a hit job, and was reluctant to give interviews to journalists. “An entire year of ‘fake news’ accusations has taken its toll here in Alabama, just like it has nationally,” Alabama Media Group reporter Anna Claire Vollers says. “The Republican base who love Trump and Moore are particularly suspicious of the mainstream media, I’ve found. They don’t see themselves accurately reflected there, and I think there is some truth to that. But I’ve also seen readers, including Republicans, vehemently defend my work.”

+ Noted: “A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes,” USA Today’s editorial board writes (USA Today); CNN’s Jim Acosta says Sarah Huckabee Sanders “pulled me aside … and she warned me that if I asked the president a question at this pool spray, as we call them, that she could not promise that I would be allowed into a pool spray again” (Washington Post); Former Mashable executive editor Jim Roberts is joining Cheddar as its editor in chief (Axios); Storify as a standalone service is being shut down next year: Now a part of Adobe, a new version of Storify will be available under Livefyre licenses (TechCrunch); New research from the Center for Media Engagement finds that audiences are more likely to find news credible when “trust indicators” are attached to it (Center for Media Engagement)


How to use recirculation as a metric to measure your readers’ loyalty (MediaShift)
A key metric to measure your audience’s loyalty is recirculation, or the percentage of users who visit another page on your website after reading their first article. This a metric that will become increasingly important for publishers in 2018, digital analytics company .io Technologies’ Andrew Sweeney argues: “The first reason [to track retention] is to measure how well you’ve captured the loyalty of your audience. … The second reason to track retention is to understand and increase depth, the number of pages users view on average each session, indicating both how interesting your content is and how well you package it.”


The first robot-written stories from the U.K.’s Press Association have made it into print (Press Gazette)
RADAR, the automated news service created by the U.K.’s Press Association and Urbs Media, had its first stories make it into both print and online. The Press Association says stories have appeared in 20 publications, on topics ranging from trends in birth registrations in the U.K. to data on social mobility to average road delays. RADAR is funded with a €700,000 grant from Google’s Digital News Initiative.


Twitter is embracing the tweetstorm and making it easier to thread tweets (Recode)
Twitter introduced a new feature on Tuesday that lets users post an entire thread of tweets at once. When composing a tweet on the mobile app, you’ll see a plus sign; once tapped, you can add connected tweets. Twitter is also changing how threads of tweets appear in its timeline: Now, threads will show a “show this thread” icon to indicate there’s more to read. “Twitter’s belief is that longer posts, not shorter ones, perform better on Twitter. When the company doubled the length of a tweet last month, Twitter claimed that longer posts resulted in more engagement,” Recode’s Kurt Wagner writes on the change.


The NYT Reader Center is a good way to explain NYT’s journalism — but it’s no replacement for a public editor (MediaFile)
When The New York Times eliminated the role of public editor and announced its Reader Center, the idea was pitched as a way for reporters and editors to explain their stories and decision making. And while the Reader Center achieves that goal, it’s no replacement for a public editor, because it’s not designed for NYT to address criticisms of its reporting. “It’s better than no mechanism. It may be better than a poor ombudsman; but it is definitely not better than a highly competent ombudsman,” former public editor Margaret Sullivan says.

+ If Peter Thiel is successful in purchasing Gawker’s archives, former Gawker reporter J.K. Trotter says we can expect its archives to be deleted: “There’s a precedent for the unimaginable in the fate of Gothamist and DNAinfo … The difference is that nobody set out on purpose to permanently erase Gothamist or DNAinfo” (Washington Post)


Jezebel’s new editor in chief on its legacy of ‘fearless feminist reporting’ and where it goes from here (CJR)
In a Q&A with CJR, Jezebel’s incoming editor in chief Koa Beck talks about the future of Jezebel as sexual harassment and other women’s issues that Jezebel has reported on for years are getting more attention. “Jezebel’s arrival to this issue cannot be understated. In this climate where survivors are being believed and white men are losing their jobs and professional standing, I’m seeing Jezebel reporting from five years ago, six years ago, seven years ago re-circulating on Twitter,” Beck says on Jezebel’s role right now. “Jezebel’s influence on media, and not just women’s media, is unprecedented. The fact is that women’s media couldn’t even necessarily be relevant without taking a page from Jezebel’s editorial strategy. As far as where Jezebel will be going in its next iteration, I absolutely plan to take conversations farther than a lot of our competitors would.”

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