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Need to Know: Mar. 17, 2017

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


You might have heard: In his first federal budget plan, Trump proposes eliminating all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well eliminating the endowments for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities (New York Times)

But did you know: If Trump’s plan to eliminate funding for public broadcasting is carried out, public broadcasting at all levels would be affected (Nieman Lab)
Though Trump’s proposed budget is not finalized (and has to be approved by Congress), we do have some sense of what the future of public broadcasting might be if the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s funding is eliminated. In 2012, CPB commissioned Booz Allen Hamilton to forecast what would happen if the system lost its federal funding. Booz Allen Hamilton concluded, “There is simply no substitute for the federal investment to accomplish the public service mission that Congress has assigned to public broadcasters and that the American people overwhelmingly support.” The study found that the system would be affected at all levels, and many of the larger public broadcasters (think NPR, American Public Media, Boston’s WGBH) “would be forced to cut already lean production budgets,” likely cutting back their offerings or raising prices for local stations. “That, in turn, would impact the remaining stations, further undermining their ability to attract viewers, listeners, and support,” the study says.

+ If Congress supports Trump’s proposal, CPB CEO Patricia Harrison says it would cause “the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service” (CNN Money); “Defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would primarily affect local public broadcasters, not PBS and NPR,” Callum Borchers writes. “In other words, defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would mean hurting the local TV and radio stations that a whole lot of Republican voters watch and listen to” (Washington Post)

+ Noted: Independent Journal Review removed a story about Barack Obama’s trip to Hawaii and implied the trip “had something to do with a federal judge’s decision to block President Trump’s immigration order,” saying that the story “does not meet our editorial standards or represent IJR’s vision or values” (Poynter) and IJR’s congressional reporter resigns over concerns about the site’s direction, saying that the Obama story the “last straw” (Politico); Slate staffers vote to unionize with Writers Guild of America, East, and say they want to hold Slate management accountable to increasing diversity in the newsroom (CJR); Politico is expected to shift the tone of its media section more toward politics and away from industry news (Business Insider); Privately-owned Frederick News-Post in Maryland is sold to Ogden Newspapers (Frederick News-Post); Hearken is developing a tool called Open Notebook to help journalists make their work more transparent (Hearken)


Break Form: Making stories with and for the people
For nine months, 15 teams were embedded in forward-moving public radio and television stations across the U.S., tasked with the job of working with citizens to invent new storytelling models. Today, we’re releasing a report in partnership with AIR on the findings and lessons from that project, Localore: Finding America. The report includes a breakdown of the projects, steps to building community-driven stories, and best practices for doing community-driven storytelling.

+ The week in fact-checking, including why some countries haven’t been affected by “fake news,” the difference between fact-checking and verification, and better terms for “fake news”


How CNN changed its ‘metrics for success’ after experimenting with messaging apps (
After launching on three messaging apps in 2016, CNN Worldwide’s head of social media and emerging media Samantha Barry says, “We had to change our metric of success in order to experiment with things like chatbots and messaging apps. … When I started two and a half years ago, the only metric for success was the number of referrals generated and how many eyeballs you’re sending to TV.” But people interact with messaging apps differently, and CNN has adjusted: “Now we focus on creating a CNN news habit for every generation on every platform — reaching people we hadn’t reached before and getting news to them in the ecosystems they live in.”


The Guardian pulled ads from Google after they were placed next to extremist material, and it’s encouraging others to do the same (Guardian)
After some of its ads for its membership program were “inadvertently” placed next to extremist material, The Guardian has withdrawn all of its advertising from Google and Google-owned YouTube. The Guardian says the content included YouTube videos of white nationalists in the U.S., a hate preacher banned in the U.K., and a controversial Islamist preacher. Now, The Guardian is encouraging others to pull their ads as well until Google and its companies can provide “guarantees that advertising placed on YouTube will not sit next to extremist content in the future.”

+ Newsrooms in Europe are forming a united front against “fake news” as 37 partners have signed on to First Draft News’ CrossCheck project (Digiday)


Managers, you’re in a bubble: Get out by asking better questions (Harvard Business Review)
In this week’s edition of Harvard Business Review’s Ideacast, MIT Leadership Center at Sloan School of Management executive director Hal Gregersen explains why most managers and executives are in a bubble within their own organizations. The more decision-making power you have within your organization, Gregersen says, the more the information you receive is filtered through other people. Information is often presented to managers in a way that their employees think they want to hear, but what managers need to hear is information that will make them uncomfortable and challenge their thinking. Gregersen explains how managers can get out of the bubble by asking better questions and taking steps to improve the flow of information within their organizations.


Conversations around newsroom diversity haven’t translated into action, and it’s on us to rethink the way we’ve done this (Source)
“[The discussion of diversity in newsrooms] is often focused on getting more women into management, and occasionally tiptoes into how we can increase the representation of ethnic and religious minorities among reporters and editors,” Stacy-Marie Ishmael writes, with the conversation occasionally including “diversity of thought” and very rarely addressing issues of class and geography. But these conversations haven’t translated into change, Ishmael says: “It is not enough for us to merely admit that we have a problem, though there are still many of us for whom that would be a useful first step. … It is on us as hiring managers and editors to rethink our defaults, to re-examine our assumptions, to review our teams and contributors and ask why we have let ourselves believe this is the best we can do.”


After the election, newsrooms are recruiting investigative journalists to dig into government institutions (Poynter)
The competition for investigative journalists is getting fierce, Benjamin Mullin writes. The biggest newsrooms in the U.S. have been recruiting investigative journalists to cover government institutions at all levels, with CNN, BuzzFeed, ProPublica and The Washington Post all posting or filling investigative journalism jobs since November. And just this week, The New York Times announced it was expanding its investigative team with hires from the Tampa Bay Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Houston Chronicle.

+ Local news organizations in Palm Beach have been elevated to a source of national news because of their proximity to Trump and sources within Mar-a-Lago (BuzzFeed)


+ Taking a look at Time Inc.’s rocky history with launching digital verticals: “As small launches surrounded by big, entrenched brands and a lack of dedicated salespeople, it was hard for the new properties to attract readers and advertisers. Last summer, Time Inc. reorganized its sales teams around ad categories, not brands, and execs who championed the new launches left, making it even harder for smaller properties to get attention … Building new brands in a distributed media era is hard for any publisher, but as a newly public company, Time Inc. had the added challenge of showing growth while managing decline and keeping Wall Street happy” (Digiday)

+ Why do writers fabricate stories and stretch the truth? “Some writers, it appears, are full of self-loathing or unsure of their talent, possibly wanting to fail so spectacularly that they’ll finally receive the punishment they deserve. Others, having long sought to please a perfectionist loved one, may be doing the same on the page, creating an impossibly perfect literary world out of whole cloth. Still others may be caught up in the very audacity that stirs a person to become a writer in the first place. More than other creative people, writers make work out of the intangible and insubstantial: the thin air of spoken language, the tiny shapes on page and screen. A writer makes something out of nothing, and a literary fake is, to some degree, merely too much of nothing.” (Vanity Fair)

+ Journalists must uncover government corruption, but also highlight the programs that can improve people’s lives, Isaac Bailey argues: “Sometimes instead of afflicting the comfortable, that attitude [of focusing on the bad things about government] can inadvertently afflict the already-afflicted. … When the media does a poor job articulating the clear benefits of successful economic, social and health policy, it makes it harder for effective policies to gain support or be improved upon, jeopardizing the well-being of the neediest among us. The Affordable Care Act is just one example of that truism.” (Nieman Reports)

+ The Guardian’s features editor Jessica Reed on how they’re breaking people out of their “bubbles”: “I really want to work with local reporters who know their communities inside-out. We have more than enough reporters in San Francisco and New York, so I want people across the country to pitch to me. I’m hoping that over the next four years under Trump, that we see some sort of local news renaissance, and that local news will become relevant again” (CJR)


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