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Need to Know: March 6, 2018

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


You might have heard: Late last year, Facebook gave some publishers a “breaking news” label, intended to make it easier for readers to identify news when scrolling through their feeds (Recode)

But did you know: Facebook is letting more publishers label stories as ‘breaking news,’ expanding what was a small test to 50 publishers around the world (Facebook Media)
People are telling Facebook that they want to see more “informative news” about what’s happening around them as it’s happening, Facebook product manager Joey Rhyu writes. Facebook has been running a test in the U.S. that let a small number of publishers label stories as “breaking news”; this week, it’s expanding that test to more than 50 publishers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia. If that expansion is successful, Rhyu says Facebook may add more partners. Publishers can use the label once per day, setting how long the story should be marked as “breaking” (up to 6 hours), and readers can provide feedback if they don’t think a story should be labeled as such.

+ Noted: The Athletic raises $20 million to fund its expansion: The sports site plans to have a presence in “every market with a professional sports team” by the end of 2018 (Wall Street Journal); Cox Media is shutting down its Facebook-driven conservative vertical Rare (Axios); Facebook hires BuzzFeed Studios’ Matthew Henick to lead its global video content strategy (Hollywood Reporter); Google is selling Zagat to upstart reviews site The Infatuation for an undisclosed amount: Google bought Zagat seven years ago for $151 million (New York Times); Reddit says it has removed hundreds of accounts that were knowingly sharing Russian propaganda, and says thousands of users were unknowingly sharing propaganda that first appeared on other sites such as Twitter (Recode)


Why you should ask permission before embedding someone’s tweets in a story (Informed and Engaged, Medium)
A new report from the Knight Foundation explores how Black Twitter, Feminist Twitter, and Asian-American Twitter interact with news, and offers suggestions for how news organizations and journalists can strengthen their relationships with these communities. One of the report’s suggestions is asking for permission before embedding a user’s tweets, and even paying for tweets that they consider “intellectual property.” Embedding or quoting tweets is defensible with Twitter’s terms of service — but Black Twitter users say reproduction of their tweets exposes them to online harassment, violence and threats, because their tweets were exposed to a larger platform.


Investigative journalists and fact-checkers are being cut from mainstream media organizations in Poland. Can independent news organizations help? (Global Investigative Journalism Network)
“Fact-checkers, investigative reporters and foreign correspondents are essential to quality journalism,” Paulina Pacula writes, “yet these roles are increasingly being cut by Poland’s mainstream media organizations due to financial pressure.” To address the problem, journalists in Poland are starting their own independent news organizations. But will these organizations be able to build sustainable business models and find an audience? To try to answer that question, the European Journalism Observatory studied six startups in Poland launched in the last three years. All of the sites chose not to sell advertising, instead depending on reader revenue or grants. Of the six sites examined, three are now financially self-sufficient, two “are struggling to be sustainable,” and one has been temporarily suspended.

+ Switzerland overwhelmingly votes to keep its public broadcaster, rejecting a proposal to cut taxpayer funding to public broadcasters and “a strong sign for the public service and for private regional radio and television” (The Guardian)


Why are there so few women in tech? Take a look at how tech companies recruit (Wired)
Though tech companies have taken steps to bring in more women and people from underrepresented groups, the numbers are still dire. And one reason, Jessi Hempel writes, is many women are turned away from the tech field before they even get started. A paper from Stanford University published last month explored how preliminary recruiting sessions discourage women from applying. Some ways that happens is through recruiters making sexist jokes and references, showing an absence of women engineers, and heralding a competitive environment — all things that intimidated or alienated potential female tech employees. “We hear from companies there’s a pipeline problem, that there just aren’t enough people applying for jobs. This is one area where they are able to influence that,” the report’s author Alison Wynn says.

+ Former USA Today editor and author of “That’s What She Said” Joanne Lipman explains why men need to be involved in conversations about the gender gap: “Women talking to each other about being marginalized, interrupted and overlooked is 50 percent of a conversation, which at best gets us half a solution.  My feeling is that many — perhaps most — men would like to be our allies, if they only knew how. … This is not about shaming; it’s about inclusion and solutions.” (MediaVillage)


Why a ‘Spotify for news’ won’t work: Spotify’s future is still uncertain, and a news version would face the same challenges (Monday Note)
Though Spotify has been around for nearly a decade, its future and business model is still uncertain — and if someone were able to successfully create a “Spotify for News,” it would face the same problems that Spotify does. Frederic Filloux explains that Spotify faces similar challenges from the platforms that news organizations do, competing with Apple Music, Amazon and YouTube, all companies that can sustain bigger losses to get customers than Spotify can. “The same forces apply: platforms are calling the shots, Filloux writes. “They control a large chunk of news distribution, capture all the advertising growth, are technologically way ahead, and can up-sell across all their product lines, and withstand any loss necessary.”


The world has changed for the better since last year’s Oscars, thanks to great reporting (Washington Post)
“Legacy media companies may be under constant criticism, and trust in the press may be at a low point,” Margaret Sullivan writes. “But less than six months after the New York Times broke its first story about abusive film mogul Harvey Weinstein in early October — quickly followed by more revelations from the New Yorker magazine — American culture has been flipped on its head. Nothing is the same: Not awards shows, not the corporate workplace, not national politics. … The time was right, the victims brave, and the reporters not only skilled and determined, but backed up by institutions with deep pockets and intestinal fortitude. And so the clock finally ran out on sexual abuse with impunity, hence the movement’s apt name: Time’s Up. The Oscars will never be the same. Neither will the world.”

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