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Need to Know: Jan. 4, 2018

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


You might have heard: After Matt Lauer was fired in November, Hoda Kotb was named co-anchor of the Today show (USA Today)

But did you know: Hoda Kotb is being paid $18 million less than Matt Lauer, underlining a major wage disparity problem at NBC News (Page Six)
Hoda Kotb’s salary as co-host of the Today show won’t come close to her predecessor’s, Emily Smith reports. Kotb is being paid about $18 million less than the $25 million salary paid to Matt Lauer, who was fired in November for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” Part of the gap is that Lauer was on the show for 25 years, Smith explains, and Kotb could be making more once NBC News renews her contract. “But the figures underline the huge wage disparity at NBC News,” Smith reports.

+ Noted: Time Inc. sells Essence magazine to an independent group of investors led by Richelieu Dennis (Folio); CBS News fires political director Steve Chaggaris after allegations of “inappropriate behavior” in his past (CNN Media); Ahead of a union vote on Thursday, LA Times management sends out a last-minute email trying to deter organizing: The email warns that the company would lose “flexibility” and “independence” if a union is formed (Splinter News)


Last call to apply for API’s 2018 summer fellowship: Deadline is Jan. 7
API offers a paid summer fellowship for college journalism students or recent graduates interested in advancing innovation in news organizations. Unlike an internship, our fellows complete a self-proposed fellowship project. This year, we’re encouraging fellows to propose projects in one of three categories: audience analytics and data science, diversity and empathy, and state and local accountability reporting.


How newsrooms in the US need to prepare for the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (Poynter)
Even if you’re not located in the European Union, you need to plan for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation if people in the EU access your website. Though it’s not completely clear yet how the laws will affect organizations based outside of the EU, the laws deal with how personal data can be used. Melody Kramer talks to Tim Turner, a data protection consultant based in the U.K. who’s helping organizations prepare for the new regulations. Some key points: Don’t assume that you’re exempt, start looking at what data you have and where you got it from, and then think about how you’re going to use that data and why.

+ Some news organizations are adding a “chief data protection officer” as part of their preparations for GDPR (Digiday)


French president Emmanuel Macron proposes a law that would allow authorities to remove content or block sites publishing ‘fake news’ during elections (The Guardian)
In his New Year’s speech, French president Emmanuel Macron promised a law that would ban “fake news” on the Internet during French elections. Under that law, websites would have to disclose their financing and a cap would be placed on revenue from sponsored content. Plus, the law would give French authorities the ability to remove content or block websites that publish “fake news” during French elections. “If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules,” Macron said in his speech.

+ During the French election in 2017, many false stories were published about Macron while running against Marine Le Pen (The Independent) and Macron filed a legal complaint against Le Pen after she referred to a false story about Macron putting funds in an offshore account in the Bahamas (Telegraph)


‘The ability to persuade people to change their habits is an important part of any disruptive organization’s DNA’ (Brand Quarterly)
To understand what disruptive organizations have in common, consumer psychologist and insights researcher Charlotte Beckett says you need to look at four main areas: the individual, the team, the organization, and the consumer. Leaders of disruptive organizations tend to be “visionary leaders” and “free thinkers,” while the people on their teams tend to have a wide range of distinct skills. These organizations also tend to have cultures that encourage questioning “without fear of negative consequence.” And, these organizations may not be a commercial success, Beckett says: “This is because disruption means change, and consumer resistance to change is human nature. … The ability to persuade people to change their habits is an important part of any disruptive organization’s DNA.”


Margaret Sullivan: Under constant criticism, NYT often resorts to ‘both-sides’ reporting that fails to properly challenge those in power (Washington Post)
“Criticizing the New York Times is a form of performance art,” Margaret Sullivan writes. Under constant criticism from all sides, Sullivan argues that NYT often reacts with “both-sides” reporting that gives “equal weight to unequal claims”  — which fails to hold the powerful to account. “With unique access to power, the Times is addicted to it — too often allowing those at the top of government and business to seize its megaphone, sometimes while wearing the invisibility cloak of anonymity,” she writes.

+ “If you want to convince large numbers of people to donate or subscribe, you either have to have a large and powerful brand, or you have to be small and targeted enough that a significant part of your market believes you are worth supporting,” Mathew Ingram argues. “If your paper spent the last decade or so running a lot of wire stories, or filler from columnists who couldn’t locate your town on a map, or if you supplemented your online presence with Outbrain and Taboola and a bunch of clickbait content because you couldn’t come up with a real strategy, don’t expect readers to beat down your door volunteering to pay you.” (CJR)


‘Facebook has encouraged us not to pivot to video’ (Digiday)
In the latest installment of its anonymous “Confessions” series, Digiday talks to an audience development head from a midsize digital publisher, who says Facebook has encouraged them not to pivot to video. “It wasn’t an explicit ‘don’t do this.’ But it was a candid conversation about publishers pivoting to video and crashing and failing,” they say. “The opportunities for monetization there are basically nil. The ROI for the kind of investment required to put out the amount of video some folks are putting out there isn’t there.”

+ A study from the University of Oregon suggests that competition among local TV stations spurs investigative journalism, and local investigative reporting may even improve TV ratings (CJR)

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