Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Dec. 15, 2017

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


You might have heard:  The Walt Disney Company will acquire Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., after spinning off several of its businesses, for $52.4 billion in stock

But did you know: Rupert Murdoch is facing his ‘King Lear moment’ with the new Fox-Disney deal (The New York Times)

The Walt Disney Co. announced on Thursday it had reached a deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox Inc., the Murdoch-owned company that includes the storied movie and television studio, national cable networks like FX and National Geographic, 22 regional cable channels dedicated to sports and a 39 percent stake in Britain’s pay TV service, Sky. “Like King Lear confronting his mortality, Murdoch, 86, is preparing to divide up a lifetime of spoils,” writes Amy Chozick. “And as he moves to sell off wide swaths of his media and entertainment business, he is also throwing into confusion the line of succession and testing the ties that bind the family-run fief.” The $52.4 billion deal has come about as part of the consolidation sweeping over traditional media companies as they try to fight off threats from Amazon, Apple and Netflix.

+ White House confirms: Trump talked to Murdoch about Disney deal (CNN)

+ Noted: A.G. Sulzberger, 37, will take over as New York Times publisher Jan. 1 (The New York Times); ONA announced its first Journalism Mentorship Collaborative (ONA); Refinery29 is laying off staff, cites ‘a correction in the digital media space’ (Business Insider); The New York Times D.C. bureau adds a fact-checker (Politico); Business Insider Inc. will drop ‘Business’ from its name as company broadens its coverage and distribution (The Wall Street Journal)


The Week in Fact-Checking: Should you say ‘fake news’?

As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes whether journalists should use the term “fake news,” how fact-checkers handled a surge of claims in the last hours of the Alabama Senate race, and a high school student who created her own fact-checking service.


How the Washington Post built the nation’s most beloved weather blog (Market Growth)

Through its approach of radical transparency, crowdsourcing, and community engagement  —  along with its early embrace of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook  —  the the Capital Weather Gang blog has built out an impressive reporting apparatus that should be studied not just by other weather journalists, but by any media organization that wants to establish a more intimate relationship with its readers, writes Simon Owens.


Norway becomes first country to end national radio broadcasts on FM (The Guardian)

Norway has completed its transition to digital radio, becoming the first country in the world to shut down national broadcasts of its FM network. The country’s most northern regions and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic switched to digital audio broadcasting as scheduled on Wednesday, said Digitalradio Norge (DRN), an umbrella group for Norway’s public and commercial radio. The transition, which began January 11, allows for better sound quality and more channels and functions at an eighth of the cost of FM radio, according to authorities.


The fiction that got me through 2017 (CNN)

“Fiction is the closest I will ever get to feeling like someone else,” writes CNN’s Mitra Kalita. In response to how polarizing 2017 has been, Kalita made a list of the books that helped her better understand the news and newsmakers of the year. She notes that only one book was published this year. “The others are works I read in the past but whose lessons and characters lingered,” she said. “I returned to them as if they were old friends and sought counsel on how we got here and where we’re going. They helped me shift my perspective and, in the busiest news cycle of my 20 years in journalism, enabled a broader, longer view.”


Why USA Today published an unusually forceful editorial about Trump (The Washington Post)

As the unofficial newspaper of U.S. travelers, USA Today strives for political neutrality, according to editorial page editor Bill Sternberg, even on its opinion page. It has never endorsed a presidential candidate. USA Today has viewed Trump as a special case, however. Although it did not editorialize in favor of any presidential candidate in 2016, the paper did offer this advice to readers: “Resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.”

+ Digital media brands are failing for the same reason as old media brands: they don’t understand the attention economy (One Man and His Blog)


Media’s gender gap: Investigating relationships between women’s news production and consumption (Media Impact Project)

The media gender gap is well established, according to Alyssa Zeisler, women are underrepresented in

newsrooms and leadership roles are primarily held by and most frequently filled by men. She says there exists another equally well established but less discussed gender gap: women tend to read less political and international news than men. This gender gap in news consumption has both commercial implications (audience size and revenues) and editorial implications for news producers.


+ “We know the difference between a Glenn and a Matt Lauer”: Inside The New York Times, the Glenn Thrush scandal is a sex-reckoning test case  (Vanity Fair)

+ Facebook’s fake news fight has collateral damage for small sites, including partisan publishers who think they’re following Facebook’s rules, but it’s not working (Bloomberg)

+ Women and power in the workplace: As revelations of sexual harassment break, women have been discussing the fallout and how to move forward. Women from across the working world take on this complicated conversation. (The New York Times)

+ For more than a year before he became Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon sought to wage war against Twitter, tasking Milo Yiannopoulos and other Breitbart News employees to look into editorial, financial, and legal ways they could harm the Jack Dorsey–led social network. (BuzzFeed)

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

The American Press Institute

Our mission

We help transform news organizations for an audience-centered future.

Our programs for publishers focus on four things:

  • 1. Understand your audience
  • 2. Get your audience to pay
  • 3. Transform your culture
  • 4. Do your best journalism
  • Find out more about API »

API solutions for publishers

What we can do for you

API offers a suite of original tools and services for solving the biggest challenges in news:

  • Decide what beats to cover and how
  • Identify and develop the skills you need
  • Assess and improve your culture
  • Drive more reader revenue
  • Drive loyalty through accountability journalism
  • Make analytics work for you
  • Contact us to find out how »