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Need to Know: Jan. 11, 2018

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


You might have heard: Katie Roiphe, writer of a planned Harper’s story that discusses the “Shitty Media Men” list, says she is not outing anyone and won’t name a creator of the list (The New York Times)

But did you know: The ‘Media Men’ list creator outs herself, fearing she would be named (The Cut)

Moira Donegan says she created the “Shitty Media Men” list in October as an attempt at solving what has seemed like an” intractable problem”: how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault. “One long-standing partial remedy that women have developed is the whisper network,” she writes, “informal alliances that pass on open secrets and warn women away from serial assaulters … Fundamentally, a whisper network consists of private conversations, and the document that I created was meant to be private as well. It was active for only a few hours, during which it spread much further and much faster than I ever anticipated, and in the end, the once-private document was made public.”

+ James Rosen’s December exit from Fox News followed increased scrutiny of his behavior — ex-colleagues say he made aggressive advances (NPR); The Washington Post suspends reporter Joel Achenbach for 90 days with no pay for “inappropriate workplace conduct” involving female colleagues (The Washington Post)

+ Noted: Facebook is testing a new section of the app specifically for local news and events (Recode); MediaShift honors leaders in media metrics (MediaShift); Myanmar prosecutors are seeking Official Secrets Act charges against two Reuters reporters (Reuters); Speaking before a Cabinet meeting, Trump said American libel laws were a “sham and a disgrace” and vowed to take a “very, very strong look” at them (The Hill)


Facebook is constantly watching you. Now you can watch them back. (Gizmodo)

Gizmodo Media Group’s Special Projects Desk is releasing a tool for people who want to study the friend recommendations Facebook chooses to give them. It’s called the “People You May Know Inspector.” The PYMK feature has consistently mystified and unnerved users in the decade that it has been in existence: A familiar face pops up in the box, but you have no mutual Facebook friends with the person. How did Facebook figure out who your second-grade teacher was? Why is your ex’s new girlfriend’s mom there? The company says it mainly relies on uploaded contacts, mutual friends, and shared networks (like schools or jobs) — yet it also says that there are dozens and dozens of other, unspecified kinds of information it may use.

+ Facebook is emphasizing Groups, and publishers are following suit (Digiday)


How WeChat became the primary news source in China (Columbia Journalism Review)

In a country where information is tightly controlled by the ruling party, a voracious demand for news catered to specific interests has given way to a boom in what directly translates as “self-media” — user-generated content created by one person and inspired by the slogan “be your own media outlet,” writes Mia Shuang Li. For the savvy influencers on China’s WeChat, who include former reporters, film critics, or other industry insiders, the financial incentives to move from traditional news outlets onto WeChat and “sell” stories are substantial.

+ Apple’s iCloud services in mainland China will be operated by a Chinese company (BBC)


This is the data Snapchat doesn’t want you to see (The Daily Beast)

Snapchat keeps its partners, investors, and even employees in the dark about how core features are performing. As secretive as Snapchat is about its internal operations, it’s equally as secretive about its data, writes Taylor Lorenz. Snapchat rarely reveals numbers. And the ones it does release are very broad. While Snapchat has released some overarching statistics during its public statements — including 178 million daily active users in the third quarter of 2017 — the company has not made public any detailed stats related to many of the app’s most popular elements. The Daily Beast reviewed five months of confidential DAU metrics for nearly every feature in the app, including Snap Maps, Discover, Memories, Geofilters, Lenses, Chat, Audio, and Stories.


The New York Times’s Glenn Thrush Dilemma (The Atlantic)

America’s newspapers and magazines have doggedly covered the nation’s reckoning with sexual harassment in recent months — yet there’s ongoing debate about how well those newsrooms are handling their own scandals, writes Adrienne LaFrance. Dozens of reporters and editors gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to talk about gender inequity and sexual misconduct in American newsrooms, and the extent to which newsroom culture has lagged behind coverage. One panel conversation turned repeatedly to the topic of Glenn Thrush, the New York Times reporter who was suspended last year after the publication of a Vox story that contained allegations of inappropriate behavior against him. “I want to challenge you on the notion that you were truly transparent,” said Paul Farhi, a media reporter for The Washington Post to Carolyn Ryan, an assistant managing editor at the Times. “There is an extensive report which you have not made public. Your top management was not available for interviews. And I’d like to know why and why this is a good way to explain to the public what you’re doing in the face of a harassment case.”

+ Why popular YouTuber Logan Paul should really worry us (Vanity Fair)


Why Twitter polls should have a warning label (MediaShift)

Twitter polls might be useful for entertainment and business, but when it comes to politics, it’s more complicated: Twitter polls are not scientific; they are not systematically conducted and therefore cannot represent public opinion, writes Ozan Kuru. Yet surprisingly, many individuals — ordinary citizens, public officials and political leaders — treat Twitter polls as valid representation of public opinion. Whether they fail to recognize its unscientific nature or intentionally use it as a pseudo-scientific platform for promoting their views, the result is increased cacophony, misinformation and polarization in social media and beyond. Given these problems, Kuru argues, Twitter should update its design by adding an interactive warning label, at least for politically relevant polls.

+ The weird world of Trump-themed podcasts (Politico Magazine); What it’s like to see your photo transformed into a racist online hoax (Poynter)

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