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Need to Know: Dec. 19, 2017

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


You might have heard: Washington City Paper’s owner put the alt-weekly paper up for sale in October (Washingtonian); conservative commentator Armstrong Williams initially said he was interested in buying the alt weekly (Washington Post), but announced last week that he will not purchase Washington City Paper (AFRO)

But did you know: Washington City Paper’s staff is told their salaries will be cut by 40 percent starting January 1 as it struggles to find a buyer (Washingtonian)
On Monday, employees of Washington City Paper were told their salaries will be cut by 40 percent effective January 1. The salary cuts come as SouthComm, the owner of the alt weekly, struggles to find a buyer for the publication. With the cut, most salaries at Washington City Paper will drop below $30,000, which an employee described to Washingtonian as “unlivable.” SouthComm, which also owns Nashville Scene, purchased WCP in 2012, but appears to have had financial troubles with its alt weeklies: Under SouthComm’s ownership, WCP has cut costs, reduced number of pages, and cut jobs, while Nashville Scene laid off 25 percent of its editorial staff, including its editor in chief, last month.

+ Noted: The Atlantic will launch a metered paywall in January, allowing 10 articles for free (Wall Street Journal); Bloomberg’s 24/7 Twitter news channel TicToc launches as Twitter doubles down on live video (VentureBeat); John Skipper resigns as ESPN president and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks: Former ESPN president George Bodenheimer will take over as acting chairman for the next 90 days as Disney searches for Skipper’s replacement (ESPN); More job cuts are expected to come to Condé Nast, the capstone on a “terrible year” in which Condé Nast lost about $100 million (New York Post); Mary Louise Kelly will succeed Robert Siegel as co-host of All Things Considered (NPR)


‘Think as the people around you think’: Gaining a better understanding of our workplaces
At this year’s Online News Association conference in Washington, D.C., API sponsored a few first-time attendees. Ed Guzman, a former editor at The Seattle Times and one of the attendees we sponsored, shares what he learned at ONA about gaining a better understanding of the people you work with, “especially as people who are tasked with informing the public and holding people to account.”


Lessons from Facebook’s Explore feed: Facebook Pages aren’t as important as the people who share your stories (Filip Struhárik, Medium)
When Facebook began a “reach-killing” test of its Explore feed in five countries two months ago, publishers in these countries saw average number of interactions (likes, shares, comments) drop by as much as 52 percent. Filip Struhárik, social media manager for Slovakia’s Denník N, explains what they learned from the test: Facebook Pages aren’t as important as the people and influencers who share your stories, changes to Facebook don’t have to be as much of a threat if you have other distribution channels, and many of the numbers Facebook gives for reach are “meaningless indicators.”

+ A Nieman Lab experiment suggests many people aren’t seeing a lot of news in their Facebook feeds: Half of the people in Nieman’s experiment saw no “news” in the first 10 posts on their feeds (Nieman Lab)


Appleby, the offshore firm at the heart of the Paradise Papers, launches breach of confidence proceedings against The Guardian and BBC (The Guardian)
Appleby, the organization at the heart of the Paradise Papers, is launching legal proceedings against The Guardian and BBC, seeking damages for the disclosure of what it says are confidential legal documents. The documents in question were leaked to Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. ICIJ then coordinated the Paradise Papers project, which revealed the details of the offshore arrangements of some of the world’s richest people and companies. Appleby is arguing that the documents were obtained during a cyber hack, and there was no public interest in the stories published about the organization and its clients.

+ Myanmar’s government says the police’s case against two Reuters journalists accused of violating the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act can proceed (Reuters)


Twitter’s new policies on violence, abuse and hateful conduct don’t apply to military or government entities — a loophole that benefits Trump (The Verge)
Twitter says it’s now enforcing its new policies on abuse and hateful conduct that it announced last month — but those rules come with a notable exception. The rule doesn’t apply to military or government entities. That exception that “would seemingly give President Trump carte blanche to continue his threats against ‘the little rocket man,’ and to continue promoting violent xenophobic videos favored by far-right extremists, even when they’ve been disproven as fake news,” Thuy Ong writes.


When harassment drives women out of journalism (Vox)
As the list of male journalists fired for sexual harassment at work continues to grow, Katherine Goldstein takes a look at the women who chose to leave the journalism industry because of harassment — both in the newsroom and from sources. Kate Havard tells Goldstein about her choice to leave the industry due to harassment from sources during an internship covering the Maryland statehouse with The Washington Post in 2013. “I would have felt more comfortable discussing what I was dealing with if I had a more senior woman around I could have asked for advice,” Havard says. “Perhaps if this had happened in 2017, I would have felt like I would have been taken more seriously. I hope interns and young reporters will know that they don’t have to tolerate this behavior. I wish there had been someone to say, ‘No one will judge you for being harassed on the job.’”

+ Earlier: “He utterly destroyed my ambition,” one of the women said of her interactions with Michael Oreskes at NPR (Washington Post); “I wasn’t retaliated against. I was simply left to wither. I left the magazine a few months later,” Sarah Wildman writes on what happened after reporting Leon Wieseltier’s advances at the New Republic (Vox); “The saddest thing about these stories is women who say, inevitably, ‘I retreated.’ … It’s clear that for a lot of individuals a sexual harassment situation is untenable. You can’t stay. My guess is a lot of women have left in the wake of this abuse,” Nieman Foundation’s Ann Marie Lipinski said (Nieman Lab)


Some of Gawker’s former employees are trying to buy the site and its archives — but many former Gawker employees, including Nick Denton, say they were unaware of the effort (Vanity Fair)
Some of Gawker’s former employees are launching an attempt to beat out Peter Thiel and purchase the Gawker website and its archives, with a campaign on Kickstarter seeking $500,000. But Vanity Fair reports that many former Gawker employees — including Nick Denton — were unaware of the plan. Maya Kosoff reports: “Some former employees who weren’t involved with Gawker’s Kickstarter aren’t so thrilled about the campaign; they do want someone to buy the archives, but there seems to be a line of thinking among former Gawkerites with whom I spoke that the quixotic Gawker Foundation has so much nostalgia for Gawker itself and for an earlier Web age in general, and that the crowd-funding drive is, at least in part, an effort to buy back their formative years. … Many former Gawker employees learned about the crowdfunding campaign [last week], like everyone else.”

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