Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Nov. 28, 2017

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


You might have heard: Led by conservative political activist James O’Keefe, Project Veritas was created in 2010 as a charity dedicated to exposing “corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct” (New Yorker)

But did you know: The Washington Post published off-the-record conversations with a woman connected to Project Veritas who falsely claimed she was impregnated as a teenager by Roy Moore (Washington Post)
In a highly unusual move, The Washington Post published off-the-record conversations with a woman who falsely claimed she was impregnated as a teenager by Roy Moore. That woman had ties to Project Veritas, and appeared to be part of an “undercover sting operation” to expose what Project Veritas says is media bias. The Post did not publish a story based on the woman’s account, and executive editor Marty Baron says the Post published the off-the-record conversations because “we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”

+ Noted: The Koch brothers’ “passive” role in Meredith’s purchase of Time Inc. is met with skepticism (Politico), and Meredith is expected to shed some of Time Inc.’s best known titles including Time magazine and take on “significant jobs cuts” (Financial Times); Ad tech firm Adform says it has uncovered an ad-fraud operation intended to “scam advertisers and publishers out of upward of hundreds of thousands of dollars a day” (Wall Street Journal); Hearst Magazines is creating a division devoted to developing, creating and selling original video series (Digiday); Facebook publishes its advertising principles in response to recent controversies (Yahoo Finance); Facebook and Twitter say they’ll cooperate with a U.K. inquiry into the role of Russia’s involvement in the Brexit vote (BuzzFeed News)


4 new topics launch on Better News: Product management, video, reaching new audiences and building trust
Better News, a resource for news and media innovators from API, just added resources and best practices on four new subjects: product management, video, reaching new audiences and building trust. We will continue adding topics to Better News in the coming months. You can request to receive notifications when future sections go live on the site.


How to ask better questions about your newsroom’s analytics (MediaShift)
Financial Times engagement strategist Alyssa Zeisler says there’s two fundamental questions newsrooms should ask about their analytics: why and how. Those two questions get into an analysis of what can be learned from the metrics, and what the newsroom can do with those metrics. Zeisler explains how to structure your thinking around these two questions. “Just like asking someone ‘why’ can lead to a more refined question, asking them ‘how’ can help make sure those doing the asking are ready to use the results when they come,” she explains.

+ API’s Metrics for News program helps journalists make content decisions based on unique measures of engagement; Better News has resources for improving your analytics strategy (Better News)


Canada’s Postmedia and Torstar are buying dozens of community newspapers from each other, many of which will be shut down (Globe and Mail)
Two of Canada’s largest newspaper companies will swap a total of 37 community newspapers and four free commuter papers — and many of those papers will be shut down in areas where they compete with existing papers. The closures will result in 291 jobs lost in Canada, mostly in Ontario. “There is a crisis in the industry,” News Media Canada CEO John Hinds said on Monday. “Announcements like today are a real warning bell. We can’t underestimate the importance of credible professionals who know how to ask tough questions, who have access to the players. … It can’t be replaced by a Facebook group.”

+ Torstar bought eight community newspapers, seven daily newspapers and two free dailies from Postmedia, and four of those publications will remain open; Postmedia bought a total of 23 publications from Torstar and all but one will close (CBC)


‘Changing the language in job ads could help bring more women into tech’ (Quartz at Work)
A simple but effective way to attract more women into tech jobs is to change the language in job listings, Lianna Brinded writes. For example, gendered words and phrases such as ‘coding ninja’ can be exclusionary. Plus, “using phrases like ‘we work hard, play hard,’ can be off-putting to women with families, so tweaks to the language can make a big difference,” says Sinead Bunting, Monster’s marketing director for the U.K. and Ireland.

+ Earlier: Stacy-Marie Ishmael’s very good lessons for how to have an inclusive hiring process in newsrooms (Medium); Better News has resources on how and why to improve diversity in the newsroom (Better News)


Brian Stelter: Trump’s attacks on the media are still shocking because he’s asserting that established news organizations are ‘fake’ while promoting misinformation (CNN Money)
One year ago, president-elect Donald Trump tweeted a “totally baseless” conspiracy theory about CNN, a pattern of behavior he’s continued well into his presidency. “Trump is asserting that real, established news outlets are ‘fake’ while promoting sources that are full of actual fake information,” Brian Stelter writes on why Trump’s attacks on the media should still be shocking. “Every time he does this, every time he blasts the free press and promotes an alternative pro-Trump universe, it’s a setback for media literacy and an informed citizenry.”


David Fahrenthold and Jay Rosen talk about how social media can improve reporting (De Correspondent)
In De Correspondent’s newest podcast Pull Up a Chair, Jay Rosen and The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold talk about what transparency in reporting looks like. Rosen, who has long called for news organizations to bring readers into their reporting, and Fahrenthold, who is notable for his “show your work” style of reporting, talk about how to bring readers into stories and how social media can improve reporting.

+ Why BuzzFeed News worked with far-right figure Mike Cernovich to break the story about the John Conyers scandal: “I knew Conyers would deny it if I broke it. Everyone would call me fake news,” said Cernovich, who has broken several legitimate stories in recent months after promoting misinformation such as “Pizzagate.” “My thinking was: ‘Let’s keep our eye on the prize and not make this about me. Let’s make this the Harvey Weinstein story about Congress.’ I knew if I gave it to BuzzFeed, it would be bulletproof.” (Washington Post)

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