Need to Know: Mar. 10, 2017

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


You might have heard: In August 2015, NBCUniversal invested $200 million in Vox, forming a commercial partnership between the two companies; in April 2016, that came to fruition with a partnership to sell digital advertising on each others’ sites, on which NBCU offered guarantees for its data-driven ad targeting (Wall Street Journal)

But did you know: Condé Nast is joining NBCUniversal and Vox in an advertising partnership that will let brands buy ads across all three companies (Advertising Age)
Condé Nast is joining a partnership between NBCUniversal and Vox to sell ads across the three companies’ digital properties. NBCU and Vox started this partnership last April, creating an advertising marketplace called Concert. The idea behind Concert is that advertisers are offered greater reach than either company can offer by themselves: For example, a marketer who wants to reach people interested in food can buy ads on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and on Vox’s The addition of Condé Nast means that advertisers will now have access to brands like Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Vogue.

+ Noted: Seven newsrooms have closed their PolitiFact chapters since the presidential election, but PolitiFact’s executive director Aaron Sharockman doesn’t say that’s cause for concern: “People are way more interested in fact-checking today than they were six months ago” (Poynter); Facebook will allow more ads in Instant Articles, allowing for an ad to be inserted every 250 words instead of every 350 words (TechCrunch); The New York Times received an anonymous $1 million donation to its “Sponsor a Subscription” program: With that donation and 15,500 others, NYT has been able to offer 1.3 million students free access to its website (Nieman Lab); Quinnipiac University finds that “60 percent of those surveyed disagreed with Trump’s view that certain media organizations are the enemy of the American people” (Fortune); Editor in chief Lydia Polgreen is planning a restructuring for The Huffington Post and trying to transform the outlet into “a place where Trump voters might also ‘tell their stories and get their concerns heard’” (Recode)


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 what misinformation does to your memory, why “fake news” is still profitable, and a new program to help young women develop fact-checking skills.


What are national newsrooms’ biggest obstacles to collaboration with local newsrooms? (Center for Cooperative Media, Medium)
“We’re complicated, we have trust issues and we can just do it ourselves, anyway. Those may sound like complaints from a relationship-gone-wrong,” Tim Griggs writes. “They’re also reasons national news organizations cite for why they don’t pursue collaborations with local journalism outlets more frequently.” After spending several months studying partnerships between national and local news outlets, Griggs is sharing the most common challenges he heard from national news sites. Those challenges include a preference to “do-it-ourselves,” a bias against smaller news organizations, and the idea that a partnership will create more work for them.

+ How can journalists measure a relationship with their audience? “Building a relationship is not a service that an app can provide, nor it is something that a single metric can measure. … We as professionals this should prioritize process over product” (MediaShift)


The newspaper industry in Britain is calling on the government to take action against ‘fake news’ (BuzzFeed)
The News Media Association, which represents the British newspaper industry, is calling on its government to take action against Facebook and Google, citing the spread of “fake news.” In January, a BuzzFeed News analysis found that “fake news” hasn’t found the same sort of foothold in the U.K. that it has in the U.S., “seemingly because established newspapers [in the U.K.] already publish vast amounts of highly partisan articles.” But NMA is warning that “the conditions that enable a fake news industry to thrive could be gaining ground here.”

+ “We strongly believe that real news is the best remedy for fake news.” The News Media Alliance, representing U.S. newspapers (and affiliated with API), also submitted comments about the fake news problem to the UK government committee leading the inquiry (News Media Alliance)


To commit to gender diversity, companies have to make it a priority and show women that they support them (AVC)
“Gender diversity does not happen unless your company makes it a priority in hiring, retention, and culture,” Fred Wilson writes on diversity in the startup/tech sector in honor of International Women’s Day. “It takes a comprehensive approach and it is not easy, particularly if you have a highly technical team.” For companies, that means thinking about big things — what’s your parental leave policy? What does your health care policy cover? — as well as smaller details that “let the women in your company (and the women you want to join it) know that you support them and you are committed to the fight for gender equality.”


Newspapers’ insistence that they’re ‘impartial observers’ hurts their mission (Nieman Lab)
Voice of San Diego’s editor-in-chief Scott Lewis argues that news organizations’ insistence on being “impartial observers” hurts their mission, because objectivity has never been truly possible in journalism. “The moment they decide what to cover, they’re making a subjective decision about what’s important. When they insist they’re just being impartial observers, I think that performance hurts trust in journalists, because readers can tell that you have a perspective, that you have some underlying assumption you’re working off of,” Lewis says. In December, Voice of San Diego began explaining its underlying assumptions to readers. “When someone asks: What is your agenda? We can say this is our agenda. When someone asks: What is your bias? We can say this is our bias … and then we can be impartial about the solutions, nonpartisan about the way they are addressed,” Lewis says.

+ Earlier: We explained the lost meaning of objectivity — ”The method is objective, not the journalist”

+ A Digital Content Next report recently found that distributed content accounts for about 14 percent of publisher revenues (Digital Content Next), but “with print advertising revenues falling at more than 20 percent at most big publishers in 2016, this tiny contribution is hardly enough to put minds at ease” (Financial Times)


Are you an engaged journalist? (Let’s GATHER, Medium)
Are you realizing that there’s parts of your community you’re not reaching or hearing from? Are you wondering if it’s possible to build bridges across political lines? Are you looking for new ways to bring your community into your reporting? Are you thinking about ways to base your reporting on what your audience needs to know? Or are you thinking about how your organization can build connections in your community, rather than just share information? If any of these things (and more!) apply to you, Joy Mayer says you’re an “engaged journalist.” Mayer is building “Gather,” a hub for collaboration and resources for engaged journalists.


+ “There’s so much political potential for young people. Millennials are now as big of a segment of the population as Baby Boomers,” says Teen Vogue’s Lauren Duca on criticism for covering both Selena Gomez and politics. “I think young people absolutely care. They care in different ways.” (Mother Jones); “The way people are talking about something in the world is in itself news. It’s something we’re seeing, certainly in the political news cycle in the United States. Increasingly, the conversation itself is driving that news cycle,” says Twitter’s director of curation Andrew Fitzgerald (Nieman Reports)

+ The New Yorker’s chief fact-checker Peter Canby explains how fact-checking has changed over the years and how our political climate is shaping it now (CJR)

+ “Who are the people that get so angry online? Meet the internet warriors, in their own homes” (The Guardian); “Inside the anti-science forces of the Internet” (BuzzFeed)

+ A theory as to why some narratives take hold in media: “The Law of Narrative Gravity posits that the public and press are drawn to narratives, and the more widely accepted (or massive) a narrative, the more it attracts and shapes the perception of facts” (Backchannel)