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Need to Know: June 15, 2017

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


You might have heard: 2,500 job cuts at news organizations were announced this week alone (Fast Company): Time Inc. cut 300 positions (Reuters) and the Verizon/Yahoo merger is expected to result in 2,100 layoffs (Huffington Post), while Vocativ laid off its entire editorial staff as it plans to shift to video (Poynter)

But did you know: The layoffs are the result of the news industry’s oversupply of content and evolving technology (Talking New Media)
Big cuts at news organizations this week can’t be attributed to one specific factor, D.B. Hebbard writes. While some might say it’s about news organizations’ failure to adjust to digital, Hebbard argues that the factors at play are much more complex. Hebbard argues that while some in digital media believe they’ll find one simple strategy to turn things around, there likely isn’t one solution — and the success of those strategies depends on their implementation, too. “Things like diversification remain important. Having the right strategy is great, but successfully implementing it is important, too,” Hebbard says. “Thanks to the increase ease of digital publishing, combined with the growth of social media, there is now an oversupply of content. Just as once the only way to acquire music was the local record store, now nearly all music is available through iTunes, Amazon or through streaming — so too is media in oversupply.”

+ “There is a clear correlation between layoffs and buyouts with the growth in market share for the duopoly — Google and Facebook,” Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint argues (Poynter)

+ Noted: Following “an exodus of its top talent,” Independent Journal Review is asking all employees to sign noncompete agreements barring them from working at any competing business “anywhere in the world” for 6 months after employment at IJR without explicit “written consent” from the company (CNN Money); Fox News is dropping its “Fair & Balanced” slogan, a tagline the company found to be associated with Roger Ailes and a source of mockery by critics (New York Magazine); Facebook announces tools designed to offer more information on where and how ads appear across Facebook’s network (AdExchanger); A new survey from video creation platform Wochit finds that more than 75 percent of publishers plan to increase the number of videos they’re producing (PR Web)


When embracing automation, what ethical considerations should news organizations keep in mind? (Nieman Lab)
From using machine learning to write stories to automating comment moderation, automation is becoming more common in journalism. But as news organizations embrace that technology, what ethical considerations should they be making? A panel hosted by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University on Tuesday addressed that question and others. Amanda Levendowski, a clinical teaching fellow at NYU’s law school, listed some considerations in terms of accessing data: “What does it mean for a journalist to obtain data both legally and ethically? Just because data is publicly available does not necessarily mean that it’s legally available, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily ethically available. There’s a lot of different questions about what public means — especially online. Does it make a difference if you show it to a large group of people or small group of people?”

+ You can watch a full video of the event here (YouTube)


A business news outlet in India publishes one in-depth story each week, and finds that readers both in and out of India are willing to pay (Nieman Lab)
The Ken, a digital business news outlet in India, is finding that its readers are willing to pay for long-form content. Starting in fall 2016, The Ken has published one long-form piece of business reporting each week, taking on topics such as healthcare, startups and tech. The Ken also offers a variety of subscription offers for these stories: Subscribers outside of India can pay $108 annually for full access to stories and archives, while also offering a quarterly option of $35 for access three months’ worth of stories plus the previous three months of archives. Subscribers in India can pay 2,750 rupees (about $42.72) annually, or 900 rupees (about $14) per quarter. Plus, in addition to offering access to its weekly stories, a subscription to The Ken comes with access to its comment section and a Slack channel.

+ Ahead of the U.K. election, The Bureau Local held hack days in five cities, digging into data to sets to find stories about voter registration and its impact on the election (


‘Data helps guide where creative is going to go’ (Ad Age)
“While some creatives remain leery of ‘data’ — that catchall for everything from focus group research to social media analytics to campaign metrics, all mucking up the organic process — brands and their agencies are finding that data is a must-have element of the work,” Katie Kaye writes for Ad Age, adding that the fear of data is somewhat akin to the fear of computers decades ago. Kaye talks to ad agency executives about how they talk about data and use data to keep them creative.


The Intercept investigating its publication of the NSA document tied to Reality Winner (Mic)
The Intercept has launched an internal review of its publication of a classified NSA document, the source of which is suspected to be Reality Winner. Since Winner was arrested and charged under the Espionage Act, The Intercept had been quiet about the document and Winner’s arrest. Co-founders Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill said the site was “institutionally constrained from speaking publicly about the accusations made by the Trump Justice Department and the FBI.” Managing editor Charlotte Greensit says The Intercept “will be as transparent as possible with the results of the internal review.”

+ Financial Times Group chief executive John Ridding says fact-checking on Facebook is like “whack-a-mole”: “You can hit it on the head but there is always going to be more, you are never going to win. You have to make sure that the ecosystem you have created … is a viable platform fair for reader revenue models” (The Drum)


‘No amount of money can buy you a loyal, dedicated audience’ (AdExchanger)
In a Q&A with AdExchanger, Fusion Media Group’s SVP of ad sales Mia Libby explains the value of a loyal audience in the context of venture capital-backed publishing and major investments in digital organizations. “No amount of money can buy you a loyal, dedicated audience,” Libby says. “That is the most crucial centerpiece of any premium publisher business right now. If you don’t have that, and you don’t have that at scale … I don’t see those sites being long for this world. Audience is becoming a commodity. If you can buy the right eyeball anywhere on the web, premium publishers like us have to find our own unique value propositions.”

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