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Need to Know: Oct. 25, 2017

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


You might have heard: Digital First Media CEO Steve Rossi stepped down on Monday (Denver Post); Alden Global Capital bought a controlling stake in Digital First Media several years ago: The hedge fund has a reputation for investing in “distressed” companies and taking a strong line on budgeting (Westword)

But did you know: Digital First Media’s CEO is retiring — and the company may have eliminated his position (The Street)
Digital First Media CEO Steve Rossi stepped down on Monday, retiring from the job he took two-and-a-half years ago. The company announced that Guy Gilmore, who is currently executive vice president and group head of the Eastern region, would move into the role of COO and will be “reporting to the board.” But what the company hasn’t said is whether they’ll seek a replacement for Rossi as CEO. Ken Doctor writes: “In part, the action may be a testing by Alden of Gilmore’s overall capabilities. Further, there is another more basic logic to the new structure: It saves one large executive salary. DFM has already eliminated numerous publisher and editor positions in its ranks to accomplish similar headcount savings.”

+ Noted: Los Angeles Times’ new chief executive Ross Levinsohn is planning new digital verticals and emphasis on digital subscriptions (Wall Street Journal); The FCC ends a decades-old rule that required broadcasters to have a studio in or near where they hold licenses, a rule that was intended to keep TV and radio ownership local (Washington Post); Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s parent company announces layoffs: The Democrat-Gazette will lay off 27, and 86 more will be laid off at WEHCO’s other newspapers (Arkansas Times); “Twitter will now label political ads, including who bought them and how much they are spending” (CNBC); comScore data shows that conservative media is in a traffic slump: IJR and Daily Caller challenge the analysis, saying they use other measurement tools (Axios)


Is your website a ‘low-quality webpage’? Facebook sheds some light on its algorithm at a CUNY event (Nieman Lab)
On Tuesday, Facebook released a handbook with its principles for journalism and tips for how journalists can navigate the platform. And at an event at the CUNY Journalism School, Facebook also shed some light on how its algorithm works, and specifically what qualifies a website as a “low-quality webpage.” Its tips for how to avoid that distinction specifically mention advertising: Don’t have a high ratio of ads relative to content on your landing page, and don’t use ad formats (such as pop-ups or interstitials) that disrupt a user’s experience, Facebook says.

+ “Most of this is targeted at bad actors. It’s important to understand what we’re doing and why so you don’t get caught in the cross-hairs,” Facebook’s VP of news feed Adam Mosseri said (Mashable)


Here’s why Scandinavia is emerging as the ‘gold standard’ for digital subscriptions (INMA)
“The epicenter of news media’s digital subscription revolution is Scandinavia,” INMA executive director and CEO Earl J. Wilkinson writes. INMA recently traveled to Oslo and Stockholm for its Media Viking Week Study Tour, seeking to unveil lessons INMA members can apply in their own newsrooms. Some trends they saw: Scandinavian publishers are using algorithms to prioritize content on their homepages, they’ve experimented with different “freemium” models and identified triggers for subscriptions, and they’re identifying micro-segments within their subscribers as a way to prevent churn.

+ Why Belgian investigative news site Apache doesn’t run advertisements: “Maybe it is a purist attitude we have, but we believe that being funded by your readers is the best guarantee for independence. Using advertisements, subsidies or patronage has the risk of running into conflicts of interest. We do not use advertisements and we only use government subsidies for specific projects, not to finance our day-to-day operations,” editor in chief Karl van den Broeck says (Nieman Lab)


‘Sexual harassment will change your career forever’ (The Cut)
According to EEOC data, 40 percent of women say they’ve experienced unwanted sexual attention or coercion at work — and very few of those women will come forward, and even fewer of those who do will keep their jobs. “Sexual harassment has been identified as one of the most damaging and ubiquitous barriers to career success and satisfaction for women,” one study on the issue states. “The toll that sexual harassment takes on their jobs, their career paths, and their psyches — including their ambitions and dreams — is enormous,” Bryce Covert writes. “It can last for decades, shred their networks, and toss years of training and education in the trash, but it’s one we rarely talk about.” Over the last two weeks, Covert talked to women across multiple industries about what they’ve gone through mentally and professionally after experiencing sexual harassment.


What do ordinary people think ‘fake news’ is? Poor journalism, political propaganda, and those ‘around the web’ links (CJR)
How do ordinary people define “fake news”? A series of focus groups conducted by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism dug into that question. “The most striking result of the focus groups is that people see the difference between ‘fake news’ and real journalism as one of degree, rather than drawing a clear distinction. While they do associate fake news with stories circulating online, especially on social media, they placed more emphasis on journalists and politicians as purveyors of fake news,” Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Lucas Graves write on the findings. People talked about fake news as a “spectrum” or “a question of scale,” ranging from poor journalism to political propaganda to some forms of advertising to false information masquerading as news.


NYT posted a job listing looking for a correspondent to travel the world. They’ve gotten 2,400 applications in 24 hours (Refinery29)
The New York Times recently posted a job that sounds like a dream gig: They’re looking for a correspondent to travel the world, working on its annual 52 Places to Go list. “We are seeking a correspondent who will go to every destination on our list and tell us the story of each place and the story of life on the road. The ideal candidate is a permanent student of life and astute documentarian of the world,” the posting says. As of Tuesday morning, NYT has received 2,400 applications for the job — which was only posted early on Monday morning. And travel editor Monica Drake says they’re getting a lot of nontraditional applicants: “There are teachers … I think, at least, one bartender — people who know a lot about life but didn’t all get a Master’s in journalism and intern at progressively larger publications,” Drake tells Refinery29.

+ NYT also announced its first “social-first” reporting job: They’ll hire three journalists for a one-year residency, where the reporters will create “to create social-first content” and “make sure that when we’re covering the world for travel that we don’t miss the people in it” (MediaFile)

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