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Need to Know: Oct. 10, 2017

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


You might have heard: The Los Angeles Times underwent a major leadership shakeup in August: Ross Levinsohn was named publisher and CEO as editor and publisher Davan Maharaj and three other top editors were terminated (Los Angeles Times)

But did you know: Forbes’ Lewis D’Vorkin will be the next editor of the Los Angeles Times (New York Times)
Forbes’ chief product officer Lewis D’Vorkin is known for introducing initiatives that allowed Forbes contributors to be paid for content, based on the number of readers they brought in. Now, D’Vorkin will take that kind of thinking to the Los Angeles Times as its next editor in chief. “There is some worry, [journalists at the LA Times] said, that Mr. D’Vorkin will be more focused on clicks and advertising, rather than pursuing ambitious journalism,” Sydney Ember reports. “Although employees in the newsroom said they recognized the value of having a more robust digital operation, they also gathered around desks to voice their concerns to one another after the announcement was made in a staffwide email.”

+ “This was as important of a hire as I could make. It was important to find someone who had deep experience in journalism … and also who had deep digital chops. He really remade Forbes, he has grown it dramatically,” publisher Ross Levinsohn said on hiring D’Vorkin (Los Angeles Times)

+ Noted: “Six publishing sources, requesting anonymity out of fear of angering Google, said their ads load slower than their content on AMP, and that is part of the reason why they make less money per pageview from AMP than they do from their own websites,” Digiday reports (Digiday); Google finds that Russian sources purchased ads on YouTube, Google Search and Google’s DoubleClick ad network (Washington Post); Philadelphia Media Network is eliminating 30 to 35 positions through buyouts, while hiring 10 employees with digital skills at the same time (; ESPN’s Jemele Hill is suspended for two weeks for a second violation of its social media guidelines: “Hill had suggested NFL fans boycott vendors and advertisers associated with the Dallas Cowboys after franchise owner Jerry Jones told players they’d be benched if they demonstrated during the national anthem” (Washington Post)


How the Financial Times is using Instagram as a way to share its charts and graphics (Digiday)
Instagram has emerged as a way for Financial Times to get its stories that aren’t behind a paywall out to a younger audience, Aditi Sangal reports. Notably, FT doesn’t see Instagram as a way to convert readers into subscribers, though. “It’s not like we’re opening the paywall. [Instagram Stories] are easy to use — we don’t want the audience to copy and paste the link,” U.S. social media editor Jake Grovum says, explaining that the idea is connecting readers to the brand.


After readers accused her newsroom of putting out ‘clickbait,’ an editor in the UK says the newsroom’s digital transformation has made its journalists ‘more creative than ever’ (HoldTheFrontPage)
After the Cornwall Live newsroom in Cornwall, England, underwent a major digital transformation, readers accused the news organization of writing “clickbait.” In response, editor Jacqui Merrington wrote an editorial, explaining how the transformation has made the newsroom “more creative than ever.” Merrington writes: “As a trainee newspaper journalist. I was always told to start my news story with the most interesting elements of the story. … Now working for the web, the reader has to be hooked in from the social media headline, or what would have been – and still is for our print editions – the front page headline. It has to make them want to read more. Is that clickbait? No, it’s just telling a good story well.”


Rethinking annual performance reviews: More frequent, less formal conversations about performance are correlated with higher levels of employee engagement (Strategy & Business)
In 2014, Cigna overhauled its performance review system, dropping end-of-year performance reviews and putting more frequent, less formal check in-style conversations in place. “Cigna’s goal in this shift was to support aggressive business expectations,” David Rock and Beth Jones write, “Creating a more positive and motivating work environment while staying fully committed to a ‘pay for performance’ compensation philosophy.” These kinds of reviews and ratings are correlated higher employee engagement, Rock and Jones explain. Their advice for recreating this in your own organization: Set up a framework that encourages frequent performance conversations, make sure those conversations focus on the future, and give both managers and employees training and info on what makes up a good performance conversation.


The New York Times worked on a story about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct in 2004, but ‘gutted it under pressure’ (The Wrap)
In 2004, Sharon Waxman was reporting a story on the “oft-repeated allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein.” Waxman, who is now editor in chief at The Wrap, explains how she found multiple sources confirming Weinstein’s misconduct — but that the story she reported never ran. Waxman writes: “After intense pressure from Weinstein …  the story was gutted. I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall. …  The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive.”

+ Jonathan Landman, who was NYT culture editor at the time, dismissed Waxman’s claim that her story was killed: “Sharon has now had more than a decade to pursue this story unencumbered by me or any New York Times editor. Why, if she had the goods on Weinstein in 2004, has she been unable or unwilling to publish something in the Wrap, where she was in charge? Could it be because she didn’t actually have the goods then, now or in between?” (Politico)


Fusion Media: Make a good ad, and we’ll give you more ad space (Wall Street Journal)
“Many publishers believe consumers would pay more attention to online ads if they were just better,” Benjamin Mullin writes. “Now Fusion Media Group is acting on that sentiment: It is trying out a new system that rewards advertisers that make the most engaging ads by giving them bonus impressions.” The bonuses will be rolled out on a sliding scale: Ads with the highest engagement rates are awarded bonuses, and the bonuses are capped at 20 percent of total impressions purchased. “We always have this desire, as most publishers do, to get the best possible advertisers on the site and the best possible creative,” Mike McAvoy, executive vice president of sales for Fusion Media Group, says. “When you have premium content, you want the quality of the advertising to live up to the quality of the journalism.”

+ Pierre Omidyar on how “social media has become a direct threat to democracy”: “For all the ways this technology brings us together, the monetization and manipulation of information is swiftly tearing us apart. From foreign interference in our elections to targeted campaigns designed to confuse and divide on important social issues, groups looking for an effective way to infiltrate and influence our democracy have found generous hosts in the world of social media.” (Washington Post)

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