Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Dec. 7, 2017

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


You might have heard: Political advertising on Facebook has come under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that it allowed political ads backed by Russian actors (New York Times): Facebook has said that it will require advertisers to be more transparent about their advertising efforts on the platform (Recode)

But did you know: An investigation by ProPublica finds that Facebook allowed political ads that were actually scams and malware (ProPublica)
Misinformation from Russia isn’t the only deceptive advertising on Facebook, an investigation by ProPublica finds. ProPublica found that Facebook allowed political ads that were actually scams and malware, which go against Facebook’s own ad guidelines and raise questions about “Facebook’s ability to monitor paid political messages.” ProPublica collected political ads on Facebook through its Political Ad Collector tool, a browser extension that collected the ads displayed on people’s news feeds. “It is unclear how many people have been cheated by such ads on Facebook,” ProPublica notes. “ProPublica’s sample is not random or representative, and the vast majority of politically themed ads ProPublica saw were legitimate. But what seems like a small annoyance for the social network can be a big headache for hundreds or thousands of people.”

+ Noted: WNYC places hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz on “indefinite leave … pending an investigation into accusations of inappropriate conduct” (CNN Money); The New York Times is suing the Weinstein Company for nearly $230,000 in unpaid advertising bills (Deadline Hollywood); Cracked, purchased by E.W. Scripps Company in 2016, is moving away from video in favor of producing more written content: 25 people will be laid off as part of the shift (Splinter)


The 3 types of news subscribers: Why they pay and how to convert them
Using a human-centered design approach, our latest report identifies three archetypes of news subscribers with distinctly different mindsets about paying for news and information. The difference between these archetypes underscores that there is not one revenue strategy or funnel that can apply to an entire audience, and segmenting audiences by these mindsets rather than by modes of consumption or demographics offers a different way of thinking about acquisition and monetization.


Lessons for journalists from people who aren’t journalists: Create a culture of learning and focus on relationships (Poynter)
“Most professions share stories about themselves, their work, their purpose, their challenges,” Kristen Hare writes. “But in telling the story of where we are and what we need next, it makes a heck of a lot of sense to include other perspectives — ones that challenge the things we probably agree on.” In this week’s Local Edition, Hare talks to people in professions outside of journalism about lessons journalists can learn from their fields. Some highlights: A teacher talks about encouraging innovation by creating a culture of learning, a founder of a dinner party project talks about the importance of relationships, and an 11-year-old philanthropist explains how to learn from your mistakes.


Greece’s second-largest city now has no local daily newspaper (International Press Institute)
After more than 105 years in operation, daily newspaper Makedonia and its weekly edition Thessaloniki shut down in October, leaving the city of Thessaloniki, Greece, without a major local daily newspaper. The closure of Makedonia also comes just two years after daily newspaper Aggelioforos shut down. “The dual closures have dramatically altered the media landscape of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city,” Lambrini Papadopoulou writes on how the closures are affecting the city. “Today, only a few local publications with very low circulations remain, in addition to a handful of free tabloids. These papers’ offices are understaffed and their remaining journalists have little time to act as watchdogs able to hold local politicians accountable.”

+ After its sale to Ziff Davis, Mashable is closing its office in Singapore but keeping its Australia office open “due to Ziff Davis’ connections to the country” (Mumbrella Asia)


How to test your assumptions to create better products (MIT Sloan Management Review)
When you’re launching a new product or service, testing your assumptions can allow you to correct course early. Jon Fjeld outlines a method for identifying your assumptions and then testing those assumptions. “The enthusiasm surrounding the ‘lean startup methodology’ and its many offshoots has created a mindset that entrepreneurs should just launch, failing early and often,” Fjeld writes. “But failure alone does not teach. If there are an infinite number of bad ideas, eliminating one gets us no closer to a good idea. Rather, the businessperson contemplating a new venture must begin by evaluating factors that have to be true for the venture to succeed. He or she also must model these factors in a way that allows for reasonable testing.”


Is social media driving Americans apart? It’s more complicated than that (New York Times)
In the conversation around the increasing polarization of American politics, many have pointed to the rise of social media as a key driver. But with that argument, “we risk giving too much weight to the newest and most frightening media technologies,” Stanford Ph.D. student Levi Boxell, Stanford economist Matthew Gentzkow, and Brown University Jesse M. Shapiro argue. “Polarization was climbing steadily long before the rise of social media. … We believe these and other data suggest social media are unlikely to be a main cause of rising polarization in America. We think it is important not to lose sight of other factors that may play a more important role.”


Here’s how newsrooms pay people who code, design and analyze data (Soo Oh, Medium)
OpenNews’ second News Nerd Survey results “confirm many hypotheses on pay equity that technical journalists discuss in backchannels,” Knight Journalism Fellow Soo Oh writes. The survey found that while compensation isn’t the top reason technical journalists leave their jobs, it’s often in the top three reasons behind lack of career opportunities and lack of leadership or direction in the newsroom. And, your role inside the newsroom affects your salary: non-managers who worked on a CMS, core website or other platforms had median wages between $90,001 and $100,000, while non-managers who worked on news stories, graphics and news applications had median wages between $70,001 and $80,000. Plus, the survey shows that the pay gap in newsrooms is real, Oh says: “Pay distributions skew higher for men than for women, whether or not they’re managers. Though median wages for non-managers are similar, the top 25 percent of women tend to get paid less than the top 25 percent of men.”

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 »