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Need to Know: Jan. 26, 2018

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


You might have heard: Last fall, GateHouse Media paid $120 million for Morris Publishing Group, which owned 79 publications in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Alaska (Augusta Chronicle)

But did you know: With its purchase of The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., GateHouse Media now owns 130 daily newspapers in 36 states (Register-Guard)
On Thursday, GateHouse Media purchased The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., from the Baker family, which has owned the newspaper since 1927. The purchase price was not disclosed. With the purchase of The Register-Guard, GateHouse now has 130 daily newspapers in 36 states. Plus, when the deal closes on March 1, The Register-Guard will be GateHouse’s largest operation on the West Coast: The newspaper has an average daily print circulation of 37,454, averages 600,000 unique visitors each month, and employs 240 people.

+ Noted: Alexander “Doc” Jones, managing editor for the Sunday paper at the New York Daily News, is under investigation for workplace harassment, just days after Tronc launched an investigation into complaints against managing editor Rob Moore (Huffington Post); CNN reinstates Ryan Lizza, who was fired by the New Yorker for alleged sexual misconduct (Washington Post); Los Angeles Times business editor Kimi Yoshino has been suspended for two days, but no cause has been given (Talking Business News); E.W. Scripps Co. is trying to sell its 34 radio stations while trying to reduce its operating expenses by $30 million (WCPO); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette employees are on a byline strike as union contract negotiations continue with the paper’s owners (The Incline); ESPN is exploring a sale of FiveThirtyEight (The Big Lead); Twitter is working on a Snapchat-style tool for sharing photos and videos (Bloomberg); The ACLU Is challenging lawmakers who block people on social media in a lawsuit, citing constitutional free speech protections (Roll Call)


The week in fact-checking
As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes a new database of fact-checking research, why students are learning “to spot a fake by making one,” and what gets people to dismiss fake stories.


How did The Guardian put itself on the path to profitability? It stopped worrying about reach and started focusing on deeper relationships with its readers (Digiday)
Over the last two years, The Guardian has cut costs and taken on a new business model. Now, it’s on the brink of breaking even. A major factor in that accomplishment is a shift to a reader revenue model that “relies on voluntary contributions as opposed to restricting access,” Jessica Davies explains. And as part of that model, The Guardian has stopped chasing reach in favor of deepening its relationship with its most loyal readers: “We’re at the foothills of what we can do [with donations and paying members], and we’ll keep testing and learning our way through generic and topic-specific contributions,” Guardian Media Group CEO David Pemsel says.


Russian journalists are finding ways to start independent news organizations that aren’t under the Kremlin’s control (Calvert Journal)
In 2016, Elizaveta Osetinskaya was fired as the editor of Russia’s RBC Media for critical reporting. She then left Russia and came to the U.S. to start The Bell, an independent news organization that focuses on Russia. Osetinskaya says her startup is just one example of a growing trend of Russian journalists finding ways to build news organizations that aren’t owned by businesses that are vulnerable to the Kremlin’s control. “Before, media was run with oligarch or private money… [but] now it is being run by people for whom media is an obsession,” she explains on this shift. Some other examples include Mediazona, which reports on Russia’s prison system, and Meduza.

+ An EU court rejected a class action lawsuit a privacy activist brought against Facebook: The court said he could bring a lawsuit against Facebook as an individual in his home country, but could not bring the claims of more than 25,000 signatories against the U.S.-based company (Reuters)


Google is testing an app in Nashville and Oakland that lets people submit stories about their local communities (Slate)
Google is starting to test an app that lets people publish and share their own local news stories called Bulletin. The app is being tested in Nashville, Tenn., and Oakland, Calif., and is described by Google as “an app for contributing hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone.” Though the launch of Bulletin hasn’t gotten much attention, Slate’s Will Oremus writes that it “sounds like a super-lightweight content management system, aimed at amateur journalists or anyone else who wants to live-blog a news event or report a news story in a way that has a chance to reach a broad audience.”

+ Facebook is testing a local news and event section in Olympia, Wash.: The section includes updates from “pages in your area,” weather, and a news section (BuzzFeed News)


Major news organizations gave the women’s marches worldwide little attention last weekend, a failure by journalists to contextualize and investigate the movement (Elle)
Last weekend, between 1.6 and 2.5 million participated in women’s marches around the world. But those marches were given little attention on the top TV news shows on Sunday, according to Media Matters. More importantly, Mattie Kahn argues, is that by not covering these marches, journalists are failing to contextualize and investigate the movement behind the marches in the same way they’ve done for the movement to support Trump. “If Trump fans, who represent a sliver of the electorate so small that Trump remains the most unpopular president since Harry Truman, are given the full run of the New York Times editorial section because we need to better understand them, then surely the greatest mass mobilization of women nationwide (ever?) deserves at least an equivalent measure of attention,” Kahn argues.


‘Our football teams may be adversaries, but our newsrooms are not’: Newsrooms in Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Boston collaborate to cover Super Bowl visitors (
“Our football teams may be adversaries, but our newsrooms are not,” reads an editor’s note at the top of a story on the number of visitors expected to descend upon Minneapolis in two weeks for the Super Bowl. “This article is brought to you through a content-sharing partnership among the Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, and Minneapolis Star Tribune. Thank you for supporting local journalism, no matter where you live.” The three newsrooms worked together on the story, which challenges the estimated number of visitors put forth by the Super Bowl planners.

+ Poynter announces the next class of its Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media (Poynter)


+ At Politico, Mike Allen rewrote the rules of Washington, which are being challenged by Trump — but with Axios, Allen is changing D.C.’s news diet yet again (BuzzFeed News)

+ High school students in Utah published a story on a teacher’s firing, finding that the teacher was dismissed for misconduct — and when the school deleted the story, they republished it themselves (Washington Post)

+ HuffPost may have decided to pay all of its writers and end its contributor program, but its “effect on the industry still lingers” (CJR)

+ A look inside Facebook’s year of reckoning: “Facebook thought it was more powerful than a nation-state. Then that became a liability” (Washington Post)

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