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Need to Know: Feb. 6, 2018

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Newsweek Media Group, the publisher of Newsweek and International Business Times, was accused of buying traffic and engaging in ad fraud (BuzzFeed News), which was reported after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office raided the Newsweek headquarters and took photos of computers and servers in January (New York Post)

But did you know: As Newsweek Media Group is being investigated, Newsweek fired top editors and reporters who were investigating their parent company’s finances (Daily Beast)
On Monday, Newsweek fired its editor in chief Bob Roe, executive editor Ken Li, reporters Celeste Katz and Josh Saul, and International Business Times editor Josh Keefe. Though no official reason was given for the firings, The Daily Beat reports that Li, Katz, Saul, and Keefe had all published stories recently that reported on Newsweek Media Group’s recent financial troubles. Plus, senior writer Matthew Cooper resigned on Monday. In his resignation letter, Cooper addressed Newsweek CEO Dev Pragad, saying: “This coup de grace comes at the end of a string of scandals and missteps during your tenure,” he wrote. “Leaving aside the police raid and harassment scandal — a dependent clause I never thought I would write — it’s the installation of editors, not Li and Roe, who recklessly sought clicks at the expense of accuracy, retweets over fairness, that leaves me most despondent not only for Newsweek but for other publications that don’t heed the lessons of this publication’s fall.”

+ Katz, Saul and Keefe reported in late January that authorities were investigating a “money trail” between former Newsweek Media Group executives and Olivet University, a Christian university in California (Newsweek)

+ Noted: Chicago Sun-Times allows movie critic Richard Roeper to return to work following an investigation into where Roeper bought Twitter followers (Chicago Sun-Times); The National Magazine Awards replace the Magazine of the Year and Multimedia categories with awards for social media and digital innovation, eliminating the last remaining print-only category (WWD); Los Angeles family-owned Eastside community newspaper chain will close (Los Angeles Times); Teen Vogue names Samhita Mukhopadhyay as its first executive editor: Mukhopadhyay was previously the senior editorial director of culture and identities at Mic (MediaPost); The city of Seattle says Facebook is violating its campaign finance law and says Facebook must disclose details about spending in last year’s city elections (Reuters); Last month, CJR reported on a deal between Texas Monthly and Bumble for the dating app to pay to promote the magazine’s cover story on the app: Now, Texas Monthly is hiring an ombud to address the “appearance of impropriety” (CJR)

TRY THIS AT HOME

Digital transformation efforts sometimes feels like ‘like mowing the yard when the house is on fire,’ a new Local Media Association report says (Poynter)
A report released Monday by the Local Media Association surveyed nearly 200 people in the journalism industry, including CEOs, publishers, and digital newsroom leaders. The survey found that CEOs tend to think they aren’t getting a lot out of investing in digital, while digital leaders tended to think the CEOs didn’t understand how long it takes to truly transform. “Companies need to get on the same page when it comes to their digital strategy. ALL sides need to do a better job listening to each other. An executive-level retreat that brings the corporate team and local leaders together is a good first step,” the report concludes.

+ “There used to be this concept of ‘putting up a paywall,’” Piano CEO Trevor Kaufman says. “That’s a very different activity from strategizing a successful subscription business from scratch. What we see more customers doing is bifurcating their businesses. We don’t see as many publishers saying ‘where I do put my paywall’ and more saying ‘what is a totally new offering that I can create and provide that my existing offering can promote and market? What is a totally new offering that has value and is worth paying for?’” (Nieman Lab)

OFFSHORE

German publishers are concerned that the EU’s proposed privacy regulations could hurt their digital ad revenue (Journalism.co.uk)
If the European Union implements its proposed ePrivacy Regulation, some German publishers are estimating they could lose as much as 30 percent of their digital ad revenue. The proposed regulation “places a particular focus on unsolicited marketing, use of cookies and confidentiality,” which could affect ad delivery and personalization. A report published late last month surveyed German publishers on what they expect the impact of the regulations to be, finding that the publishers expect to lose programmatic ad revenue, native ad revenue and see a decline in e-commerce sales — including digital subscriptions and other merchandise.

+ The BBC’s public funding means it should be held accountable for widespread failings, such as pay inequality, Vanessa Thorpe argues (Guardian); How The Guardian’s online readers are driving a culture change in journalism: “As time goes by, it seems inevitable that a distinct journalism culture will develop in the digital space, different from the UK-based print culture that seeded it, and enriched by an audience that is connected by the English language but which in many other ways is culturally different,” Paul Chadwick writes (Guardian)

OFFBEAT

‘The UX of why people hate their new job after three months’ (Damon Kiesow, Medium)
The first few weeks of a new job are always exciting: “There are new people to meet, new projects to learn and new roles and responsibilities to master. Part of the intoxication of those early weeks is they are often the only time in our adult lives we are allowed to ask stupid questions and not have to pretend to know everything,” Damon Kiesow writes. But, inevitably, that honeymoon period ends, and people become unhappy with parts of their job. How can UX research help solve that problem? Kiesow suggests: “For new employees, the expectation we need to set is that while the initial learning curve is steep, the on-boarding process actually never ends nor does it move in a predictably straight line.” That includes finding ways to re-invest yourself in your job every few months, and preparing those you manage for this process.

+ Early employees of Facebook and Google are forming a coalition to encourage education about the dangers of technology and social media (New York Times)

UP FOR DEBATE

How Trump’s ‘fake news’ attacks changed (and didn’t change) The New York Times (Wilson Quarterly)
When Trump posted a tweet just days after being elected president and denigrated The New York Times, “there was more on the line than the paper’s reputation or its stock price. The president was using The Times as an avatar for the news media in general, and, therefore, as a stand-in for the reality-based reporting that, for all its flaws, has provided so much of the factual foundation of America’s political discourse for so long,” Jim Rutenberg writes. Rutenberg explains how Trump’s attacks have changed the way NYT approaches its work — and the things Trump hasn’t changed. “One thing we’ve started to do is be more transparent. We’re going to let people know who our reporters are; we’re going to let them know where they are; we’re going to let people know what it takes to get a story,” executive editor Dean Baquet told Rutenberg.

SHAREABLE

Museums are finding creative ways to engage with their patrons — something newsrooms can emulate (Poynter)
Over the last few weeks, more than 30 million selfies were taken using the Google Arts & Culture platform, telling people what works of art their selfie resembled and what museums they could find those portraits in. Melody Kramer asks what newsrooms can learn from these experiences: “What else might we ask readers to share, or to do, in order to provide them with context and information — and create a deeply engaging experience? And how might that then also deepen our understanding of our audiences?”

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