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Need to Know: Nov. 9, 2017

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Earlier this year, McClatchy reported that federal investigators are examining whether far-right media such as InfoWars and Breitbart played a role in promoting Russian misinformation (McClatchy)

But did you know: InfoWars has republished more than 1,000 RT stories without permission since May 2014, analysis by BuzzSumo finds (BuzzFeed News)
According to a new analysis by BuzzSumo, InfoWars has reposted more than 1,000 Russia Today stories without permission since May 2014 — and it’s done the same with other outlets, from CNN to The Blaze to The New York Times. In the case of the RT stories, the republished stories appeared on InfoWars’ website with a byline credit to RT. But a RT spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that InfoWars didn’t have permission to republish its content. “[Alex] Jones and his outlet have also faced accusations that their work often aligns with Kremlin-funded outlets such as RT, and that they have at times benefitted from amplification from Twitter bots and other Russian information operations,” Jane Lytvynenko writes on the connection between InfoWars and RT. “In this case, there’s no question that InfoWars has been copying and pasting Kremlin-funded news articles and promoting them to its audience.”

+ Noted: U.K. documents show that Bill O’Reilly’s deal with Fox News shielded him from being fired over harassment allegations, unless they were proven in court (Bloomberg); Teen Vogue brings Hillary Clinton on as a guest editor for its December issue, one of its last print editions (Mashable); ProPublica has received 239 applications for six spots as investigative reporters embedded in local newsrooms around the country (ProPublica); Quartz launches a lifestyle and culture vertical, Quartzy (Quartzy); A new report from Internews examines Puerto Rico’s information needs after Hurricane Maria (Internews); Google’s new Knowledge Panels show information about publishers, such as topics they commonly cover and major awards they’ve won (The Keyword)

TRY THIS AT HOME

Here’s why The Washington Post takes a ‘non-promotional, ultra helpful presence’ on Reddit (Nieman Lab)
On Reddit, The Washington Post is “an avid poster of some pretty good memes and gifs,” Shan Wang writes. Since it started publishing on Reddit in April, the Post has managed to break through Reddit’s “tough anti-brand, anti-paywall shell” with a presence that isn’t promotional. “Reddit profiles were started because they wanted to encourage the creative community,” Washington Post social media editor Gene Park explains. “There was no real place for artists and creators to push stuff on their own, because of previous self-promotion rules. That connected with me — I thought, what if the Washington Post was just another creator? We’re just there to talk about our work.”

OFFSHORE

Canada’s Discourse Media is trying to raise $1 million in equity financing, through a combination of traditional funding and crowd investment (Discourse Media)
With a revamped site and membership program launching in early 2018, Canada’s Discourse Media has set the goal of raising $1 million through a national funding campaign. Discourse Media is now letting people buy equity in the company with a minimum investment of $250. “With a total of $446,000 already in the bank or pledged, we are well on our way,” editor in chief Erin Millar writes. “We believe media companies that exist to serve Canadians should be owned by them. That’s why we are inviting all Canadians to become owners through a crowd equity funding campaign, a first for a media company in Canada.”

+ “Growth [of news subscriptions in the U.K.] has been slow, partly because not many mainstream news organizations are charging for their content yet,” Lucinda Southern writes. “Since newsrooms have come to terms with the fact that digital advertising alone will not sustain them, almost all news publishers [in the U.K.] are looking for some kind of alternative reader revenue.” (Digiday)

OFFBEAT

Using empathic design to create products that your customers will love (Harvard Business Review)
The key to designing products that customers will love is empathic design, or “a user-designer who combines deep knowledge of product use with the ability to foresee new possibilities for it,” Dorothy Leonard writes for HBR. There’s a few ways to achieve this, Leonard writes: One is by having the designer temporarily adopt the role of user; others look like immersing yourself in the culture of the customer or “cognitive artifacts” that parallel or enhance a physical prototype. No matter the approach, empathic design strategies have a few things in common: They’re focused on seeking out the user’s unarticulated needs and desires, they look at the world through the eyes of the user, and there’s an emotional connection between the designer and the user.

UP FOR DEBATE

Disney’s ban of the LA Times shows other corporations that boycotts are the way to show their disapproval with coverage (Politico Magazine)
“The brazen and petty way Disney challenged the leading paper of the West Coast hints that the long-standard balance between the press and the powerful has changed,” Jack Shafer writes. “Companies have always pulled their advertising from news outlets when peeved by coverage or punished aggressive reporters by placing them on blacklists or by denouncing the press as irresponsible. But I can’t recall a major corporation punishing a newspaper’s movie reviewers — perhaps the most innocent of all God’s journalistic creatures — for the aggressive dispatches filed by their investigative colleagues! … By aping Trump, Disney has encouraged individuals and institutions covered by the outlets it owns — ABC News, ESPN, and local TV news — that snitty boycotts are the correct way to register disapproval.”

+ “Data journalism should not only reflect the diversity of the society it is writing about, it also needs to consider the diversity of the journalists who are hunting, gathering and processing that data” (Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

SHAREABLE

When food on the Internet means recipe videos, The New Food Economy is focusing on policy instead (Nieman Lab)
Food coverage online right now is dominated by Facebook-friendly recipe videos and restaurant reviews. The New Food Economy is taking a different approach to food coverage, writing about “the economics, culture, and politics of food, with a special emphasis on the many factors that influence our food long before it reaches our mouths.” Editor in chief Kate Cox explains: “It’s simple and yet not simple at all. Almost everything we do has something to do with these forces changing our food, how we get access to it, and what it costs. There’s an awful lot of policy that has the potential to change what consumers have access to.”

+ The trailer for “The Post,” a movie about The Washington Post’s role in publishing the Pentagon Papers, came out this week (YouTube), and “it shows how little many newsrooms have changed” (Poynter)

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