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Need to Know: Jan. 10, 2018

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


You might have heard: In October, a “Shitty Media Men” list began circulating, a collection of “allegations and rumors” of sexual harassment in the media industry (New Yorker); Initially a Google Doc available to only people with the link, the list was later published to Reddit and Twitter (Select All)

But did you know: Rumors are flying that Harper’s has an upcoming story on the creator of the Shitty Media Men list, and people warn that naming the creator could put her in danger (Splinter)
Rumors starting circulating on Tuesday that Harper’s has an upcoming story in its March print edition that names the creator of the Shitty Media Men list. That list was an open Google Doc that compiled sexual harassment and assault allegations against men in the media industry. People are now warning that if the creator of the list is named, she would be put in danger: On Twitter, Nicole Cliffe offered to “pay you cash for what you’d lose by yanking it.”  “[Naming the creator is] not in the public interest and it would only put the creator in danger in an environment rife with alt-right trolls and sexist men,” Clio Chang argues. “This isn’t to advocate for Harper’s to pull a piece I haven’t read, but it’s pretty clear that one can make criticisms of the list and the tactics of its creator without gratuitously revealing her identity.”

+ Kathy Kiely argues that the media industry enabled sexual harassment, while claiming to hold others to account for it: “While we’ve been quick to call out and condemn the culture of entitlement that exists for the prima donnas of the sports world, we the media have created the same cozy cocoon of permissiveness for our perceived ‘stars.’ And abusers aren’t the only ones who have been rewarded; so have their enablers (USA Today); Journalists gathered at the Newseum on Tuesday to talk about gender problems in newsrooms,  showcasing the ongoing debate in newsrooms about how to handle their own culture problems (The Atlantic)

+ Noted: Steve Bannon steps down as executive chairman of Breitbart News (New York Times) and Sirius XM says Bannon will no longer have a show on its stations, given that its agreements are with Breitbart News (Sirius XM); Sports Illustrated is moving to a bi-weekly print schedule, but will start including more long-form stories, more photos and higher quality paper (Poynter); One year later, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith says, “I’m proud we published the Trump-Russia dossier” (New York Times) and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen files lawsuits against BuzzFeed and private investigation firm Fusion GPS, claiming that the dossier’s “false and defamatory” allegations resulted in “harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities” (ABC News)


Can civility save journalism? 5 good questions with researcher Ashley Muddiman
Contentious stories and clickbait headlines are more than just annoying. They’re a barrier to a civil discussion of facts, they tend to increase partisanship, and they can impact the level of trust in media and other institutions. But are “civil” stories that focus on solutions interesting enough to attract readers? The Center for Media Engagement’s Ashley Muddiman talks to API about these questions and why civility is a powerful force in news.


Publishers are ‘treating Facebook Watch like YouTube,’ but the opportunities for revenue are still forming (Digiday)
“Facebook’s Watch launched as a tightly curated approach to high quality video, but its future might be more like YouTube,” Lucia Moses writes. Some publishers are being paid by Facebook to create shows for Watch, but even those who aren’t can still publish videos there. Videos can be monetized with mid-roll ads, but Moses says “the money isn’t game-changing” given that Watch still has a relatively small audience. But for publishers who may already be producing these videos for other purposes, there’s little to lose. Plus, Moses writes that “Watch may morph into the YouTube model, where some creators are paid up front and some just get an ad revenue share.”


Myanmar prosecutors seek charges against Reuters journalists under Official Secrets Act, which has a maximum prison sentence of 14 years (Reuters)
Prosecutors in Myanmar sought charges on Wednesday against the two Reuters journalists who were arrested under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The reporters’ lawyer says that law carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on Dec. 12 after they were invited to meet police officers over dinner and were handed documents by the officers they were meeting with. The reporters were working on covering Rakhine, a western state where 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled. “They arrested us and took action against us because we were trying to reveal the truth,” Lone told reporters as they left the courtroom this week.


Backlash against Apple is growing as its investors pressure the company to address its effect on children (New York Times)
“Companies have a role to play in helping to address these issues,” Barry Rosenstein, managing partner of investment firm Jana Partners, wrote in an open letter to Apple over the weekend. “As more and more founders of the biggest tech companies are acknowledging today, the days of just throwing technology out there and washing your hands of the potential impact are over.” The backlash against big tech companies has been building for months, David Gelles reports, as Facebook has dealt with its role in the 2016 election and Twitter has reckoned with its harassment problems. But Apple’s situation is unique: It was relatively unscathed, until investors started pushing the company to examine its effect on children’s health.


Journalists have shown caution when reporting on Trump’s mental health. That’s the right thing to do (Washington Post)
“When President Trump bizarrely declared himself a ‘very stable genius’ on Twitter last weekend, he opened a door for journalists who cover him,” Margaret Sullivan writes. She says journalists have rightfully shown caution when assessing Trump’s mental health, given there’s a “fine line between taking up — in reporting and commentary — Trump’s fitness for office and outright speculating that he is mentally ill.” Politico editor Carrie Budoff Brown says, “It’s perilous to go too far on this subject … it’s delicate, it’s sensitive — and we’re not doctors.” But she also says that readers “want this answered: ‘Is he this or that?’ ”


In response to Trump’s fake news awards, the Committee to Protect Journalists creates the Press Oppressors awards (Committee to Protect Journalists)
After President Trump announced on Twitter his plans for the “fake news” awards, the Committee to Protect Journalists responded with new awards of their own. CPJ is “recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media” with the Press Oppressors awards. CPJ named Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “the most thin-skinned,” while awarding Trump the “overall achievement in undermining global press freedom.”

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