Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Oct. 17, 2017

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Last year, Time Inc. eliminated the role of “publisher” at its 22 magazines and started selling ads around 11 categories, such as food or cars (New York Post)

But did you know: Trying to catch up with the ways that digital-only organizations sell ads, legacy magazine publishers are shifting to centralized ad sales (Digiday)
Earlier this year, Condé Nast became the latest publishing company to eliminate the job title of “publisher,” moving to a group sales model. Several big of the biggest legacy magazine publishing companies have moved to these more centralized ad sales models, trying to catch up with the ways that native digital media companies sell ads. However, selling ads at these legacy publishers is fundamentally different than at the native digital companies, Lucia Moses reports: A lot of ad spending is still tied to individual brands, so it’s still important to have salespeople who understand a specific title’s audience and editorial sensibilities. “They were asking people to sell 26 brands. If you came from Cooking Light, you can’t sell People,” John Wagner, PHD’s group director of published media, says on how that transition worked at Time Inc.

+ Noted: Publishers who rely on programmatic ad sales say they’re already “feeling pain from Apple’s move against ad tracking” (Digiday); PolitiFact’s website was inadvertently hosting a JavaScript code that hijacked a user’s processor to mine virtual coins: PolitiFact says it’s investigating how the code got onto its website (Engadget); USA Today launches a version of its mobile app without ads for $2.99 per month (USA Today); The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented at least 20 arrests and 21 physical attacks on journalists this year, most occurring at public demonstrations (CJR); A new startup called Substack is trying to help blogs and newsletters make money with a set of subscription tools (TechCrunch); Snap Inc. and NBCUniversal are partnering to create scripted programming for mobile devices (Variety)

TRY THIS AT HOME

The crowdsourcing fallacy and its lessons for audience engagement (Wikimedia Foundation)
Crowdsourcing efforts often fail, Wikimedia Foundation’s Jake Orlowitz writes, because of deficiencies in the projects themselves or the “crowd” you’re reaching out to. That might mean that your crowd isn’t diverse or it tends to think alike, the platform you’re using for crowdsourcing is poorly designed or overly complicated, or your project isn’t empowering your core users. Though Orlowitz focuses on what makes crowdsourcing efforts fail and how to correct those mistakes, these ideas can be easily applied to audience engagement.

+ New research finds that data journalism hasn’t changed substantially in the last four years, finding that “data journalism is still labor-intensive, slow to respond to breaking news, and reliant on the domains that already regularly produce data, such as elections” (Nieman Lab)

OFFSHORE

A Panama Papers journalist is killed by a car bomb in Malta (Politico Europe)
Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who reported on government corruption for the Panama Papers, was killed in a car bombing on Monday. Caruana Galizia first reported on corruption in the Maltese government as part of the Panama Papers project, going on to continue reporting on corruption by the country’s prime minister and his allies. Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in a statement: “Everyone knows Ms. Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way … I will not rest before justice is done,” going on to tweet, “This is a spiteful attack on a citizen and freedom of expression.

+ International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (which organized the Panama Papers) director Gerard Ryle says the organization is “deeply concerned about freedom of the press in Malta” (New York Times); “A political murder took place today. What happened today is not an ordinary killing. It is a consequence of the total collapse of the rule of law which has been going on for the past four years,” National party leader Adrian Delia said, claiming that Caruana Galizia’s death was linked to her reporting (Guardian)

+ How Politico uses pop-up newsletters to test markets for expansion in Europe (Digiday)

OFFBEAT

The WPA2 security protocol used by nearly every Wi-Fi network has been breached (Ars Technica)
A team of researchers in Belgium has discovered that the WPA2 security protocol that secures nearly every Wi-Fi network has been breached, allowing attackers within range of vulnerable devices access to passwords, emails and other data that’s thought to be encrypted. “This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so on,” researcher Mathy Vanhoef wrote. “The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible to inject and manipulate data. For example, an attacker might be able to inject ransomware or other malware into websites.” Recommendations for now are to use wired connections when possible instead of Wi-Fi until patches are available, use HTTPS connections to encrypt your web and email traffic, and possibly use a VPN for additional security.

+ E-book sales are falling, and book publishers are “going back to basics” — finding and printing books that readers want to buy, and streamlining their businesses (Wall Street Journal)

UP FOR DEBATE

Trump’s attacks against the press hurt the United States’ ability to stand up for democratic freedoms worldwide (Washington Post)
“Trump keeps ranting about the dishonest news media. And reporters and editors keep doing their jobs, undaunted,” Margaret Sullivan writes. “So there’s no problem and First Amendment champions should just calm down, right?” Trump does tend to be more accessible than his predecessors, and his Twitter feed gives journalists a real-time look into his thinking, Sullivan writes. “Still, it would be a mistake to see Trump’s anti-media threats as harmless. They’re anything but. … Trump’s constant press attacks carry a worldwide price — they hurt America’s ability to stand for democratic freedoms around the world.”

+ “The president’s use of a public platform like Twitter to talk directly with the American people is unprecedented for the presidency, and it raises legal, ethical, and cultural issues that have never been tackled in American politics,” Mathew Ingram writes (CJR)

SHAREABLE

The challenges of reporting on sexual harassment allegations: The sources often fear reprisal by their abusers, and NDAs often prevent people from speaking up (New York Times)
“There are a number of factors that make allegations of sexual harassment difficult to report,” Alexandra Symonds writes, explaining how NYT has covered three instances of sexual harassment allegations in the last six months. “In all three cases, reporters said sources were hesitant to speak out because their allegations were so intimate; because they feared reprisal by powerful men; and in many instances, the women involved had entered into settlements that included nondisclosure agreements.” Emily Steel, who reported on allegations against Bill O’Reilly says: “Until reporting on this, I didn’t realize the extent that these settlements and these confidentiality agreements played in this whole ecosystem. … As soon as a woman signs this, she can’t talk about her allegations ever again.”

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