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Need to Know: Dec. 4, 2017

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


You might have heard: The New York Times is scaling back the number of free articles it offers to non-subscribers to five (Bloomberg)

But did you know: Cutting the number of articles offered for free is the most significant change to NYT’s paywall since 2012 (Nieman Lab)
Scaling back the number of articles it offers to non-subscribers for free is the biggest change NYT has made to its paywall since 2012, when it cut the number of monthly free articles to 10 from 20. “The Times may eventually offer a different number of free articles to non-subscribers based on how they arrive or their reading habits,” Bloomberg also reports. This change is notable, Ricardo Bilton writes, because it’s “an effort to capitalize on what’s been a revitalizing moment for journalism”: NYT has seen impressive subscriber growth since the election, and this change is intended to turn even more people into subscribers.

+ Noted: ABC News suspends Brian Ross for four weeks without pay (The Wrap) after Ross erroneously reported on live television that then-candidate Trump instructed Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russians, which ABC News later corrected to president-elect (CNN Money); NBC News is launching an internal review of how it handled allegations against Matt Lauer (Variety); CNN boycotted the White House holiday party, but other journalists and news organizations still attended the event, though some felt conflicted (New York Times); Google says that online ad prices are rising as the industry deals with counterfeit inventory (Wall Street Journal)


10 things you can do now to up your social media game in 2018 (MediaShift)
Social media teams are essentially functioning in the same way they were 10 years ago, and it’s time to think about how to reinvent social media teams to accomplish the core functions of journalism. In this story for MediaShift, API’s Jane Elizabeth suggests some ways that your newsroom can up your social media game heading into 2018.

+ Our earlier report on how to reinvent your social media team to fight misinformation, engage audiences and participate as full partners in accountability journalism


8 questions to get your newsroom talking about bias (Jennifer Dargan, Medium)
Most journalists would agree that we do better work when we confront our biases, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Jennifer Dargan writes. But most journalists also believe that they’re less biased than others. “If we continue to think that this work is for others to do and not focus on ourselves, we’ll get nowhere,” Dargan argues. As part of her project for the Knight Journalism Fellowship, Dargan offers eight questions that will get your newsroom talking about what your biases are and how to address them. Some of those questions: Is there a culture of acknowledging that all journalists have bias? Do your colleagues let you know when they see your biases? Do you talk about how a reporter’s lived experiences and social identities impact their reporting?

+ API’s explainer on how to think about bias: “The job of journalists is not to stamp out bias. Rather, the journalist should learn how to manage it”


Australia’s competition regulator will investigate whether Facebook and Google disrupted the media market to the detriment of publishers and consumers (Reuters)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australia’s competition regulator, announced Monday that it will investigate whether Facebook and Google have disrupted the online media market to the detriment of publishers and consumers. This investigation is part of larger media reforms from the government. The commission will also investigate how Facebook and Google operate to “fully understand their influence in Australia,” chairman Rod Sims says.

+ Created by two longtime journalists, the Offshore Journalism Kit helps archive online stories that may be lost to censorship, right to be forgotten, or websites shutting down (Global Editors Network)


Do product boycotts really make a difference? Paradise Papers reveal how well ‘voting with your dollars’ works (Knowledge@Wharton)
The Paradise Papers, coordinated by ICFJ, sheds light on the business practices of companies like Disney, Nike, Lyft and and Walmart — and it also reveals how well “voting with your dollars” actually works when many companies’ business practices are entirely unknown to consumers. “Americans have put considerable weight behind the idea that they can vote with their dollar, that patronizing businesses whose values they endorse exercises some kind of moral authority. But as the Paradise Papers show, the way businesses really operate remains opaque. Is it possible anymore for customers to put their money where their mouths are, given the competing interests of wanting what is cheap, cool or convenient, and what we increasingly know we don’t know about the companies we patronize?”


Dean Baquet says criticism of NYT’s Nazi profile was ‘the most ridiculous overreaction’ (Business Insider)
At Business Insider’s Ignition conference late last week, NYT executive editor Dean Baquet was dismissive of criticism of the NYT’s profile of a neo-Nazi in Ohio. “It was the most ridiculous overreaction to a story,” Baquet said. “The story could’ve much more clearly said in a nut graf or in some form: ‘Dear reader: If you think neo-Nazis are guys who live in the hills of Alabama smoking pipes, in fact it’s much more complicated than that. Here’s what they look like, and they’re just as insidious.’ It could’ve said that more clearly. But I also think the, in my view, the overreaction from readers who we try to address and certain academics … who never have actually done much journalism, I think their reaction was too strong.”

+ CJR asked 149 newsrooms about their sexual harassment policies — and not a single one responded (CJR)


‘When local news struggles, democracy withers’ (Wired)
“To dismiss newspapers as dinosaurs that deserve to die is to see a paper as somehow apart from the community it serves. … What happens to a community in which nobody pays [an investigative reporter]? What happens to a society in which an independent source of information simply disappears?” One effect is that there’s more confusing about what’s going on in your community, Henri Gendreau writes. Another is even more mistrust and frustration toward government institutions.

+ The Opelika-Auburn News, a small-town newspaper in eastern Alabama, is taking a stand on Roy Moore in a very careful way: While the Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville newspapers ran a powerful editorial against Moore, Opelika-Auburn News editor Troy Turner says he could never run an editorial like that because “I would have bullet holes in my windows” (Washington Post)

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