Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: July 1, 2016

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


You might have heard: The Associated Press has been using financial reporting algorithms to publish automated stories since July 2014

But did you know:

The AP will use automated writing to cover the minor leagues (Poynter)

The Associated Press, which routinely covered some minor league stories through the 2006 season, will produce the stories using technology from Automated Insights and data from MLB Advanced Media, which is the official stat-keeper of the minor leagues. Automated game stories are available for Triple-A, Double-A and Class A games, covering 142 MLB-affiliated teams and 13 leagues, according to an AP press release.

+ Earlier: Bloomberg editor-in-chief says automation is “crucial to the future of journalism” (Poynter)

+ Noted: International Business Times lays off at least 30 people and IBT Media plans to spin off Newsweek (Politico); Walt Disney Co. agreed to acquire a one-third stake in the video-streaming unit of MLB Advanced Media, in a deal that values the business at about $3.5 billion (Bloomberg); Facebook is shutting down its Paper newsreading app on July 29 (The Verge)


Google knows what you did last summer: How to use the My Activity page to make it forget (Online Journalism Blog)

For journalists, the amount of information that Google holds about you presents a risk to your sources, according to Paul Bradshaw. Searches for people, images and video, books and reports that you’ve read, visits to particular locations can all identify individuals. If you’re promising whistleblowers protection, you can delete this information.


Brexit boosts newspapers’ print circulation and online traffic (Newsworks)

Following last week’s referendum and the resulting resignation of David Cameron, newspapers in the U.K. saw large increases in circulation over the course of the weekend, with sales of Saturday editions expected to increase 7 percent. The Guardian saw a record 17 million unique browsers and 77 million pageviews on Friday, June 24.

+ BBC News announces new investments in Canada with plans to add a news bureau in Toronto and to launch a Canadian edition of ‪ (BBC)

API Update

The week in fact-checking

As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes fact-checking Facebook, what principles unite fact-checkers around the world, and whether or not Brexit makes France the world’s 5th-largest economy.


The rise of chatbots and why you should care (VentureBeat)

Chatbots offer the best way to deal with overload, writes John Brandon. “They are important because they are paving the way to a more A.I.-assisted future, one where bots fill in the gap between what we don’t know (and maybe what we don’t know that we don’t know) and what we actually know,” he said.


Publishers should trust Facebook like drivers should trust Uber (Pando)

Publishers relying on Facebook are starting to look like drivers who keep trusting Uber to make their lives better, writes Sarah Lacy. The aggrieved parties argue that Uber would be nothing without drivers. Many publishers could argue without news and sharing of content that isn’t just your friends’ and family’s baby photos, and Facebook would be smaller with less engagement. But Uber has made clear it wants wages as low as possible and eventually wants no drivers at all. Facebook has been similarly clear with its platform time and time again — it exists only to benefit their business.


A comic treatment of a tragically broken process in journalism (Hearken)

Newsrooms are still using processes and mental models designed for the pre-internet era, writes Hearken CEO Jennifer Brandel. “To put it frankly: those old processes aren’t working well in an age where individuals are empowered with access to seemingly-infinite content,” Brandel said. “And poorly-designed processes create inaccurate information and lead to misguided decisions which ultimately breaks the system.” Hearken, along with cartoon artist Jean Cochrane, rethink the journalism process through a comic.

For the Weekend

+ Secret FBI rules make it pretty easy to spy on journalists. The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information (The Intercept)

+ Can narrative journalism overcome the political divide? A study conducted this spring by the Columbia Journalism Review and the George T. Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism found that sometimes the content of a story matters more than its source, even to politically polarized readers (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ Ghost in the machine: Snapchat isn’t mobile-first  —  it’s something else entirely. It’s tempting to think of Snapchat as a part of the app revolution, as one of the shining examples of mobile-first design that has defined our smartphone age, writes Ben Basche. This is of course true to an extent, but Snapchat is not mobile-first, and it’s not really an app anymore. “Snapchat is a true creature of mobile, a living, breathing embodiment of everything that our camera-enabled, networked pocket computer can possibly offer,” Basche said. “And in its cooption of smartphones into a true social operating system, we see the inklings of what is beyond mobile.” (Medium)

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

The American Press Institute

Our mission

We help transform news organizations for an audience-centered future.

Our programs for publishers focus on four things:

  • 1. Understand your audience
  • 2. Get your audience to pay
  • 3. Transform your culture
  • 4. Do your best journalism
  • Find out more about API »

API solutions for publishers

What we can do for you

API offers a suite of original tools and services for solving the biggest challenges in news:

  • Decide what beats to cover and how
  • Identify and develop the skills you need
  • Assess and improve your culture
  • Drive more reader revenue
  • Drive loyalty through accountability journalism
  • Make analytics work for you
  • Contact us to find out how »