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Need to Know: Nov. 21, 2017

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


You might have heard: The Washington Post reported on Monday that eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them (Washington Post) and Rose was suspended by CBS, PBS and Bloomberg while the claims are investigated (Hollywood Reporter); Vox reported on Monday that NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush has a “history of bad judgment around young women journalists” (Vox) and NYT suspended Thrush while it investigates (New York Times)

But did you know: Columbia Journalism Review is setting out to evaluate how big media’s sexual harassment problem is (Washington Post)
After a number of sexual harassment allegations have come to light in major news organizations, Callum Borchers says the natural question is, “How big is the media’s sexual-harassment problem?” A definitive answer may not be possible, but CJR is evaluating the problem with an ongoing survey project. CJR is asking journalists about their newsroom’s policies and culture around harassment and their personal experiences, whether they were harassed themselves or witnessed harassment. There are separate surveys for journalists in staff positions and freelance journalists. “CJR won’t be able to say, with scientific certainty, what percentage of journalists have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace,” Borchers writes. “But the project almost certainly will expose strengths and weaknesses of the media’s handling of sexual-harassment claims within its own ranks and might even bring new, specific allegations to light.”

+ A couple weeks ago, Jill Geisler offered advice on how news organizations should cover sexual harassment allegations in their own newsrooms: “When investigating alleged misdeeds, investigators look at violations of laws, regulations, rules, and policies — but not all wrongdoing fits into those neat boxes. A behavior can be wrong even if there’s no specific rule against it. Consider the impact. Consider the power differential between the accused and those affected. Expect the highest standard of conduct from your most powerful and influential team members.” (CJR)

+ Fox News is establishing a workplace culture panel after its own sexual harassment scandal as part of a settlement with a 21st Century Fox shareholder (New York Times); A writer for Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny Letter quits after Dunham defended filmmaker Murray Miller, who was accused of sexual assault by actress Aurora Perrineau (The Wrap)

+ Noted: FCC chairman Ajit Pai is expected to reveal his plan for total repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules on Tuesday (Politico); The Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T’s $85.5 billion deal to buy Time Warner, calling it “a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent” (CNBC); Armstrong Williams, a conservative businessman, TV talk show host and confidant of Ben Carson, is interested in buying Washington City Paper (Mother Jones); Crain’s Chicago Business is shutting down its comment section because it says it does not “have the personnel to manage this commentary, to keep it civil and fair and to halt the back and forth before it devolves into invective, name-calling and, in too many cases, outright hate speech” (Crain’s Chicago Business)


Journalists’ favorite automatic transcription tools: Trint, Sonix and Recordly (Poynter)
Ren LaForme asks, “If we can ask our phones for the weather in Albuquerque and compel a plastic cylinder in our living rooms to read the Washington Post out loud, why are we still transcribing interviews by hand?” LaForme outlines some of the best automatic transcription tools for journalists. Links to bookmark: Trint tends to fit easily in journalists’ workflows, Sonix identifies different voices in a recording, and Recordly is a budget-friendly option.


Independent news startups in Singapore struggle to find funding as they’re viewed as ‘alternative’ media (The Splice Newsroom)
“It seems that politics and news reporting doesn’t make for a viable business in Singapore,” Sherwin Chua writes. A recent survey from Institute of Policy Studies found more than a third of the 200 news sites and blogs active during Singapore’s 2015 parliamentary election have since gone offline. One factor contributing to that, Chua reports, is that independent news sites are rightly or wrongly labeled as “alternative” media, making it harder to get money from readers or advertisers. “With the government gazetting The Online Citizen, most advertisers stayed away because they thought the news website spelled trouble,” explains Kirsten Han, co-founder of the recently launched New Naratif, about her time as an editor at The Online Citizen.

+ Financial Times announced on Monday that it now has more than 900,000 paying readers (Financial Times)


An ode to the blogs that were started before the age of Instagram influencers (New Yorker)
“There was a time, not too long ago, when many ordinary people just … had blogs,” Emily Gould writes. One of the early food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, has thrived as other blogs have struggled as social media influencers have taken over. “Not only does it remain: it thrives; it grows. Simultaneously, it retains both editorial independence and Deb [Perelman]’s unmistakable funny earnestness. Her mission is the same as it’s been for many years: to make recipes as good as they possibly can be,” Gould writes on why Smitten Kitchen has had continued success. “Smitten Kitchen, these days, is not just a food blog: it is the food blog, what many people think of when you say those words. And now, with the publication of Deb’s second cookbook … it is poised to take Deb into the realm of her lodestars, the Inas, Marthas, and Nigellas she jokingly writes about imagining herself to be.”


‘Forget the pivot to video; the pivot to reality is in full swing in digital media’ (Digiday)
“At a high level, digital publishing has failed to diversify, having put all its eggs in the advertising basket,” Lucia Moses writes on why digital media now facing a “pivot to reality.” “But it’s too simplistic to say this is simply a story of the big, bad platforms. What’s happening now is more of a correction than an upheaval. … When it came time to build a sustainable business, many of the publishers that were adroit at spinning rosy growth scenarios on paper were less successful. The now-lampooned pivot to video is a case in point. It’s easy to talk about audiences moving to mobile, expertise in ‘snackable’ content and distributed media strategies built around Millennials. It’s quite another to execute those strategies profitably.”


‘An American journalist is facing a felony trial this week — in the United States’ (HuffPost)
Photojournalist Alexei Wood is facing criminal trial this week on rioting charges after being arrested during protests on Inauguration Day in D.C. Taking a lead from Slate, HuffPost writes a story on Wood’s trial as if it was taking place in another country because it “sounds like something that would happen in another country.” Charges have been dropped against seven of the nine journalists arrested on Inauguration Day in D.C.; Wood could face up to 61 years in prison if he is convicted.

+ There’s a lot to be down about in media these days. Rafat Ali has a Twitter thread on good things happening in media: News organizations have had a major role in protecting our democracy, subscriptions are becoming a more promising part of journalism’s future, and podcasts and audio journalism are moving into the mainstream (@rafat, Twitter)

Need to Know will be off the rest of this week for the Thanksgiving holiday; we’ll see you again next week.

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