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Need to Know: Nov. 3, 2017

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You might have heard: DNAinfo and the Gothamist network of local news sites were shut down on Thursday by owner Joe Ricketts just a week after staff in New York voted to unionize (New York Times); The news sites’ websites were taken down, making their archives unavailable (Washington Post)

But did you know: DNAinfo’s director of engineering said the sites’ archives were not deleted and will likely be archived online (Quartz)
When DNAinfo and Gothamist’s websites went down on Thursday, many journalists who worked for the sites were rightfully upset that years of their work had been removed from the Internet. But according to people who worked for the sites, the archives were not deleted and could be made available online in the future. DNAinfo’s director of engineering Phil Avery told Quartz that the site is backed up daily, while an official for DNAinfo told NYT that the content that is currently inaccessible will be archived online.

+ One option for those worried about losing their stories is to access cached versions of the site and save the pages as PDFs (@Emma_Cueto, Twitter)

+ A spokesperson for DNAinfo said in a statement: “The decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful” (New York Magazine)

+ Noted: New research from Pew finds that more people in the U.S. are looking to multiple social media sites for news (Pew Research Center); Condé Nast is shuttering Teen Vogue’s print edition, cutting 80 jobs and reducing the frequency of some print magazines (WWD); CNN plans to offer subscriptions for its digital news next year (Wall Street Journal); In its third quarter results, “Gannett remains profitable but publishing fundamentals are deteriorating” (Poynter); After Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September, Puerto Rico’s newspapers are laying off journalists: GFR Media board president María Eugenia Ferré Rangel says, “We’re left with no other options” (CJR)


The week in fact-checking
As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes steps to fix our misinformation problem, how satirists are adjusting to fake news, and a tool that’s like “Shazam, for facts.”


Here’s how Al Jazeera plans to use Facebook Watch to get new listeners for its podcast network (Nieman Lab)
Al Jazeera launched a new podcast network called Jetty this week, and part of its plan to attract listeners to the network lies on Facebook Watch. Here’s an example of how that will work: When the podcast “Closer Than They Appear” launches later this month, it will have its own Facebook Watch page, where snippets of the podcast will be converted into shorter, shareable videos. Al Jazeera’s general manager of audio Kaizar Campwala explains that the idea is to entice non-podcast listeners into embracing both Jetty’s shows and podcasting as a whole.

+ A guide on how to use LinkedIn for content distribution (NewsWhip)


A look at how BBC’s #newsHACK events are driving innovation in news delivery (
#newsHACK is a series of events hosted by BBC News Labs and Connected Studio that bring journalists and developers together to work on challenges in the news industry. The events have been held in cities worldwide, including London, Nairobi and Cape Town. At the events, the journalists and developers work together on specific problem over two days, pitching their ideas to a panel of judges at the end. In this week’s podcast, BBC News Labs’ engagement producer Alli Shultes and developer Lei He talk about how these gatherings are driving innovation in the industry.


For 11 minutes, President Trump’s Twitter was deactivated on a Twitter employee’s last day (NBC News)
“For a very brief time on Thursday, the world saw what life would be like without President Donald Trump being on Twitter,” Alyssa Newcomb writes. The president’s @realDonaldTrump account was deactivated for 11 minutes on Thursday, leading Twitter users to wonder if he had been hacked or banned by Twitter. Twitter released a statement saying “human error” led to the deactivation, later adding that it was done by an employee on their last day: “Through our investigation we have learned that this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review.


Jimmy Wales says the goal of WikiTribune is to be a neutral news service, but is WikiTribune inherently biased? (The Outline)
Describing his news service project WikiTribune, Jimmy Wales said, “Neutrality is nonnegotiable.” But as WikiTribune launched this week, Adrianne Jeffries argues that is already biased. Jeffries explains: “The existence of the ‘Editor’s choice’ module, which highlights some stories over others, is not neutral; neither is the ‘Good reads’ section, which does the same thing. The Manafort story includes a section, ‘Highlights from the indictment,’ which is not neutral — someone had to decide which parts of the indictment were more significant than others. There is no such thing as an objective highlight. … To attempt to eliminate bias is to embark on a journey down a rabbithole that leads further and further from the truth.”

+ A reminder about what the principle of objectivity really means: “The method is objective, not the journalist.”


NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly grills NPR CEO Jarl Mohn on how NPR handled allegations of sexual harassment against Michael Oreskes (NPR)
On All Things Considered this week, Mary Louise Kelly grilled her own CEO Jarl Mohn on how NPR handled allegations of sexual harassment against former senior vice president of news Michael Oreskes. Kelly talked about how people in the NPR newsroom found out about the allegations and Oreskes’ resignation: “I learned that Mike Oreskes had resigned when I checked my phone in the line in the NPR canteen today. And the way I learned about it was via an AP news alert — Associated Press. Why did they know and we didn’t?”

+ “Inside NPR, there is dissatisfaction with CEO Jarl Mohn and his delayed action against the network’s head of news Michael Oreskes,” Brian Stelter reports: Some staffers say NPR didn’t take the accusations seriously enough and believe NPR should conduct an internal investigation to establish who knew what and when (CNN Media); NPR is retaining an outside law firm “to conduct a review of how we handled the matter” (CNN Media)

+ Nikki Usher on how reporting on sexual harassment in the news industry is a proxy for dealing with trust problems: “News organizations are pretty bad at internal transparency. The kind of ‘mirror’ journalists purport to shine on others to bring truth to power they rarely bring on themselves. … [This is] a chance for the news industry to show that it takes itself as seriously as it takes every other industry” (Nikki Usher, Medium)


+ Ideas from experts on how to fix Facebook: “Everyone understands that new technology platforms are not perfect, and that bad actors find ways to abuse them. The key is for Facebook to be upfront about technical challenges, open about its mistakes and willing to answer the tough questions honestly,” says Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat representing California’s 17th Congressional District (New York Times); David Cohn’s suggestion: “Facebook should break up its features into more concrete and discrete products. The recent move to take content from Pages and put it into the sidebar ‘Explore’ section makes perfect sense in this spirit. It scares the shit out of publishers  —  but it’s actually part of a potential long-term solution to our current predicament” (David Cohn, Medium)

+ “The launch of Explore feed is not good news for any Facebook Page administrator,” argues Filip Struhárik, social media manager at Slovakian publisher Denník N. “But what’s been happening recently on Facebook is not a tragedy. The real tragedy is that we let ourselves be fed numbers by Facebook that tell us nothing about our present or future” (Filip Struhárik, Medium); “We attribute vastly too much power to a handful of product managers in Menlo Park, and vastly too little power to the billions of people who look at their phone screen and wonder which app to open. Facebook writes algorithms, and designers cut the cloth, but that doesn’t mean they control what people look at or what people wear,” Benedict Evans argues (Benedict Evans)

+ “Jenna Abrams, the freewheeling American blogger who believed in a return to segregation and said that many of America’s problems stemmed from PC culture run amok, did not exist. But Abrams got very real attention from almost any national news outlet you can think of, according to a Daily Beast analysis of her online footprint.” (Daily Beast)

+ After the closure of Baltimore City Paper, a new alt-weekly is launching in Baltimore this month with the goal of disrupting the “overwhelming white-guy-ness” of alt-weeklies (Washingtonian) and a look at the last days of Baltimore City Paper (Washington Post)

+ The first in a three-part series from The Economist on the future of journalism: How leading newspapers are getting Americans to pay for news (The Economist)

+ Here’s how one news outlet is covering the alt-right without giving them a platform (CJR)

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