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Need to Know: Jan. 18, 2018

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


You might have heard: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an editorial on Monday that argued that accusations of racism, especially in the case of President Trump, have become an overused cliche that get in the way of discourse on immigration or DACA (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), which two major foundations in Pittsburgh and dozens of former staffers then condemned (The Incline)

But did you know: The union representing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette employees filed its first unfair labor complaint against ownership in ‘decades’ (The Incline)
The union representing 150 employees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette filed an unfair labor complaint against the newspaper’s ownership, the first complaint it says it’s filed in “decades.” The union is arguing that the newspaper is refusing to pay an increase in employee health premiums while in the midst of contract negotiations, which the union says is in violation of federal law. The union says that the newspaper is required to maintain the benefits and wages of the expired contract until a new agreement is reached. Plus, union president Michael Fuoco says Post-Gazette newsrooms employees have not seen a pay raise in more than 12 years, while wages have been cut by as much as 12 percent during that time. “In essence, we made 10 percent more in 2006 than we do now,” Fuoco told The Incline.

+ Noted: Michael Wolff’s book initially had a title more sympathetic to the president, Bloomberg reports, and aides say Hope Hicks endorsed speaking with Wolff (Bloomberg); Facebook is launching a “standalone investigation” into whether Russian actors bought ads on Facebook to influence the Brexit vote (Business Insider); Swedish magazine publisher Bonnier lays off 70 people in the U.S. and closes 5 of its magazines (Recode); The AP is partnering with Arkadium to use its InHabit tool to add more interactive polls, quizzes and games into relevant stories (TechCrunch); Axios CEO Jim VandeHei says its promised high-price subscriptions will be launched by the end of 2018 (Digiday)


How to tell when a membership model isn’t right for your organization (Membership Puzzle Project)
The Membership Puzzle Project’s research shows that membership can be “a path toward financial sustainability and audience relationships that improve a site’s journalism.” But research director Emily Goligoski says there are some times that a membership program may not be right for your organization. Some of those times might be if you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to invest in working with your members, if your organization isn’t transparent, if you’re seen as one of many membership organizations, or if you can’t identify your “power volunteers.”


A look at how Europe is trying to fight ‘fake news’ and hate speech online without stifling free speech (CJR)
“The EU has been fighting this for some time, and even NATO is worried about how this is affecting the Baltic states and Ukraine,” freelance journalist and Webster University professor Alison Langley says. “The problem with disinformation in general is a lot more sophisticated than what people see in the United States. And when it comes to hate speech, Europe has been rocked by self-radicalized extremists, and they feel they need to combat that problem while still keeping the right to free expression.” Mathew Ingram breaks down the various efforts across Europe to control hate speech and misinformation online, and why it’s been challenging for Europe to find a “balance between free speech and social order.”


The skills every manager should have, according to a psychiatrist (Business Insider)
BetterUp is a startup based in Silicon Valley that’s trying to help managers at tech companies through virtual coaching with licensed therapists, psychologists and coaches. What skills should every manager have? Dr. Jacinta Jiménez, who leads BetterUp’s coaching department, says there’s three universal skills all managers should focus on: Set clear goals for your team and clearly communicate those messages, build a culture where everyone feels they can contribute, and embrace failure through a “growth mindset.”


Facebook’s news feed changes may be an attempt to neutralize its biggest threat: Users believing Facebook is bad for you and leaving en masse (Stratechery)
“If advertising struggles to find a place when users are more actively engaged (versus passively consuming content), why is Facebook seemingly going in the opposite direction?” Ben Thompson asks. One motive might be what Thompson calls “enlightened self-interest”: “Keep in mind from whence Facebook’s power flows: controlling demand. … Facebook’s ultimate threat can never come from publishers or advertisers, but rather demand — that is, users. The real danger, though, is not from users also using competing social networks; that is not enough to break the virtuous cycle. Rather, the only thing that could undo Facebook’s power is users actively rejecting the app. And, I suspect, the only way users would do that en masse would be if it became accepted fact that Facebook is actively bad for you — the online equivalent of smoking.”

+ David Cohen argues that the news feed changes shouldn’t have caught anyone off guard because publishers have seen declining reach reach on their pages for years (Adweek)


Trump tweeted out the ‘fake news winners’ on Wednesday evening, but ‘the execution was not flawless’ (New York Times)
On Wednesday evening, Trump tweeted a link to the “fake news winners,” leading to a page on the RNC’s website that didn’t initially work. “After weeks of shifting deadlines, cryptic clues and executive obfuscation,” the link led to an error page. When the page came back up less than an hour later, it appeared as “something resembling a Republican Party press release, with a list of Trump-era accomplishments and jabs at news organizations.” The “winners” include CNN (four mentions), NYT (two mentions), The Washington Post, Newsweek and ABC News.

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