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Need to Know: Jan. 24, 2018

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


You might have heard: Facebook says it’s making changes to its news feed to show fewer news articles, emphasizing posts from friends and family (Fortune); To determine what sources are “trustworthy,” Facebook said it would conduct a survey of its users on what sources they say they trust (The Atlantic)

But did you know: Facebook’s survey for determining publishers’ ‘trustworthiness’ is just 2 questions (BuzzFeed News)
Facebook’s survey for users on publishers’ “trustworthiness” has big implications for publishers, but Alex Kantrowitz reports that “turns out that survey isn’t a particularly lengthy or nuanced one.” The entire survey is just two questions: Do you recognize the following websites, and how much do you trust each of these domains? Mark Zuckerberg said last week that the survey data would be used to “shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.

+ A study from Edelman on media trust combined with recent statements from Facebook show the company’s trust crisis, Tim Carmody argues: “While platforms were briefly seen as more trustworthy than journalism, platforms now have a widening credibility gap, as users worry about false information and their own ability to sort good sources from bad. In all but a few countries, when it comes to trust in media, social media has gone from being part of the solution to the core of the problem” (Adweek); Tony Haile argues that Rupert Murdoch’s suggestion that Facebook pay legitimate media companies for their content similarly to cable companies’ carrier fees is flawed because cable companies and TV networks are not in competition with each other (Business Insider)

+ Chartbeat says Facebook is the second-largest referrer for its clients, and it’s seen a 15 percent traffic decline from Facebook across its clients since October 2017 (Chartbeat); Facebook says 4 percent of its news feed will be news after changes are implemented, down from 5 percent (Digiday)

+ In the U.K., advertisers are urging Facebook and Google to establish an independent group to monitor and regulate content on their platforms (Financial Times); Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to authorize the creation of the National Security Communications Unit, a government entity that will be “tasked with deterring adversaries and combating misinformation spread by state actors” (PressGazette)

+ Noted: A 19-year-old man in Michigan is accused of making threatening calls to CNN (Washington Post); Tronc and Axios are in talks to syndicate some of Axios’ political stories in Tronc’s titles (Wall Street Journal); Minnesota Public Radio says its investigation into “inappropriate behavior” by Garrison Keillor found “a years-long pattern of behavior that left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled” (MPR News); Slate employees vote to unionize in a 45-7 vote (Splinter); Snapchat will allow some users to share stories to the web (Variety)


How can you make real changes when you’re under a constant threat of layoffs? (Poynter)
Across the country, dozens of newsrooms have undergone layoffs in recent weeks. “Right-sizing is a bloodless corporate term for an agonizing, messy and demoralizing process. But it’s one we’ve heard again and again in a decade or so of financial floundering from an industry that’s trying to transform,” Kristen Hare writes, “Can newsrooms really change under the constant threat of layoffs?” Robyn Tomlin argues that it’s not only possible, but necessary: She tells Hare that editors have to keep their newsrooms in the loop about what changes need to be made, and make strategic decisions about what changes will move the newsroom toward sustainability.


UK regulators say 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over Sky is not in the public interest (Variety)
In a provisional decision on Tuesday, U.K. competition watchdog group Competition and Markets Authority said it “has provisionally found that Fox taking full control of Sky is not in the public interest due to media plurality concerns, but not because of a lack of a genuine commitment to meeting broadcasting standards in the U.K.” Though that doesn’t kill the deal, it does increase the likelihood that the British government will reject 21st Century Fox’s $15 million bid to takeover Sky. CMA noted that news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch are already watched or read by one third of the British population; a Sky takeover would increase that to the point that 21st Century Fox would hold “too much control over news providers in the U.K. across all media platforms” from TV to radio to newspapers, CMA says.


How marketers are using chatbots to increase sales and offer better service (MarTech Today)
In the first part of a series on chatbots, MarTech Today offers use cases and examples on how companies are using chatbots to improve their marketing and increase sales, highlighting what others can learn from them. In one example, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines created a chatbot to help customers book a flight: The chatbot is able to deliver info on booking confirmations, check-in reminders, boarding passes, flight status updates, and more. The takeaway for other companies is that chatbots can help companies when they need to field a large number of requests from customers, particularly in sales when similar responses can be sent to thousands of people.


‘The death of local advertising has been greatly exaggerated’ (Matt DeRienzo, Medium)
Advertising can still be a significant source of funding for local news organizations. “No doubt, 2018 is a year in which local news publishers are focusing on reader revenue, whether that’s membership programs, paywalls and subscriptions, or something more creative,” LION Publishers executive director Matt DeRienzo writes. But, LION is launching a program that will help local publishers launch and grow local advertising sales programs because “no single method will make a local news business sustainable.” DeRienzo explains: “The loudest voices declaring the death of advertising-supported journalism are national digital news site publishers who have relied primarily on low-CPM programmatic network advertising. … For the most local of publishers  —  those doing the kind of work that’s highly valued by a community, including its businesses  —  the advertising pitch can be as much about supporting the existence of local journalism as it is getting a direct response.”

+ Employees in The Washington Post’s bargaining unit say newsroom management is telling them in contract negotiations to “be grateful” for Jeff Bezos and their jobs (Splinter)


The New York Times is using interactive tools to build loyalty with its readers — and ultimately, drive subscriptions (Digiday)
“The New York Times’ lofty goal of getting to 10 million subscribers is an all-hands-on-deck mission — involving even its Interactive News desk,” Max Willens writes. NYT’s Interactive News team built calendars that integrate with readers’ Google and Apple calendars to alert them of new content published by NYT. The idea is that they’re fostering loyalty and creating habits — key pathways to subscriptions. “We’ve started the shift toward better engaging readers. It’s around reader interaction, rather than one-offs,” explains Ben Koski, director of the Interactive News team.

+ At an event at The Washington Post on Tuesday, journalists and experts discussed the erosion of trust in media and what steps journalism can take to reverse that trend (Washington Post)

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