Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Oct. 3, 2017

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


You might have heard: At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 more were injured late Sunday when “a lone gunman unleashed a rapid-fire barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel” (NBC News)

But did you know: ‘How far-right trolls named the wrong man as the Las Vegas shooter’ (Washington Post)
“To name someone as a mass murderer based on that evidence would be irresponsible and dangerous. But that’s exactly what a portion of the far-right Internet did overnight,” Abby Ohlheiser reports. A 4chan thread wrongly identified a man as the Las Vegas shooter — and that thread was then promoted as a “top story” in Google search results for his name. “Even as those rumors were thoroughly, conclusively debunked, this false narrative was picked up in the algorithms that, increasingly, have come to define a person’s public-facing identities,” Ohlheiser writes. “There were no links to debunkings or to any mainstream news outlets that had identified [Stephen] Paddock as the attacker.”

+ Gateway Pundit, which has White House press credentials, wrongly identified the man from the 4chan thread as the shooter (Salon); Facebook’s Safety Check for Las Vegas promoted sites reporting misinformation including Gateway Pundit, Alt-Right News and End Times Headlines (Fast Company)

+ Facebook, Google and Twitter have all pledged to provide accurate information during crises — but they’re failing: “Despite their endless assurances and apologies and promises to do better, misinformation continues to slip past. When it comes to breaking news, platforms like Facebook and Google tout themselves as willing, competent gatekeepers. But it’s clear they’re simply not up to the task,” Charlie Warzel writes (BuzzFeed News)

+ “10 questions to ask before covering mis- and dis-information” (First Draft News)

+ Noted: Facebook says about 10 million people saw Russia-backed ads on Facebook: 44 percent of the ads were seen before Nov. 8, and for 99 percent of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent (Facebook Newsroom) and NYT reports that Russia-backed pages included pages named Secured Borders, LGBT United, and Defend the 2nd (New York Times); Facebook says it will add 1,000 more people to its global ads review team over the next year and will make the ads an organization buys visible to all users (TechCrunch); New research from the Pew Research Center analyzes coverage of Trump in his first 100 days, finding that stories from right-leaning organizations were five times more likely to have a positive assessment of the Trump administration’s performance than organizations with left-leaning or more mixed audience (Pew Research Center); Gather, a platform for journalists working on community engagement, launches (Let’s GATHER, Medium); Apple News is allowing publishers to test serving ads from Google’s DoubleClick (Ad Age)


Introducing Better News, a new resource for journalists and newsrooms trying to tackle transformation and innovation (Better News)
Today, API and the Knight Foundation are releasing a new resource for newsrooms. Better News curates best practices, organizes them, and structures them for execution, and includes best practices across a wide range of publishing challenges, from growing revenue and understanding audiences to building new products.

+ Read the announcement post with more details


The characteristics of successful newsroom collaborations (Poynter)
A new report from the Center for Cooperative Media examines collaborations in newsrooms across the country, a movement it says “is now being practiced on a scale that constitutes a revolution in journalism.” The report identifies four characteristics of successful collaborations between newsrooms: The newsrooms start out by thinking about how the work will be useful to each other, there’s a project manager, there’s “some level of trust and goodwill among participants,” and they’re able to learn new things they don’t have in their newsrooms.

+ Earlier: API’s Strategy Study on how commercial and nonprofit newsrooms can work together to benefit and change journalism


A new news organization is launching in the UK with the goal of counteracting the ‘old media system’ (Guardian)
A new organization is launching in the U.K., trying to support an independent media and “rightwing bias.” The Media Fund is trying to counteract what it calls the “old media system” by forging partnerships with organizations such as Novara Media, the New Internationalist, Open Democracy and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. To partner with the Media Fund, organizations must “sign up to the National Union of Journalists’ code of conduct, demonstrate a commitment to factual and accurate reporting, and within a year of joining become fully unionised workplaces,” and new partners must be approved by existing partners. So far, Media Fund has 21 partners.

+ The Media Fund launches just days after BBC presenter Nick Robinson said alternative news sites were waging a “guerrilla war” against the BBC and other mainstream news outlets (BBC News)


Digiday finds that marketers aren’t confident in data-driven approaches (Digiday)
According to new research from Digiday, “executives at brands are feeling a crisis of confidence when it comes to the data they collect and whether they’re even using it right.” Marketers are feeling a crisis when it comes to data similar to what we see in journalism, Digiday finds: “Most marketers surveyed report that they use data in their approaches, but don’t feel confident that it’s targeting the right people — customers of their brands — or whether it’s doing what it should be doing.”


‘Journalism, news and trust: are we heading in the right direction?’ (London School of Economics)
Media freedom worldwide is headed in the wrong direction, BBC World Service English Service controller Mary Hockaday said at a recent talk at the London School of Economics — an issue that Hockaday says is intertwined with trust. “Part of the root cause lies within the ubiquitous nature of news today, as well as a greater democratization of speech and thought,” LSE student Emma McKay writes on Hockaday’s talk. “There are more platforms for people to engage on, allowing people to voice their criticisms, skepticism and questions more openly. It is important to create and sustain safe, robust spaces for discussion between competing views, but at the same time we must acknowledge the importance of accurate, fact-based reporting.”


Did Tom Petty die? News outlets walk back their reports and LAPD apologizes after reporting that Petty died early Monday afternoon (iMediaEthics)
News reports started circulating Monday afternoon saying that Tom Petty died after a heart attack — but just a few hours later, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted that it didn’t know if Petty had actually died, despite having “inadvertently” told “some media sources” otherwise. After LAPD’s apology, news organizations started walking back their reporting: CBS News updated its story with LAPD’s remarks, while Slate tweeted a correction.

+ After the premature reports, Petty died late Monday night, his manager confirmed (Los Angeles Times)

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