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Need to Know: Oct. 30, 2017

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


You might have heard: This month, allegations of sexual harassment have been made against a number of men in media: Former New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier apologized for “offenses against some of my colleagues in the past” (New York Times), while at least a dozen women have accused Mark Halperin of sexual harassment (CNN Media); New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish is taking a leave of absence following allegations that he “behaved inappropriately with female staff members” (Daily Beast)

But did you know: Media companies need to address ‘the deep-seated gender inequality’ that’s at the heart of widespread sexual misconduct at companies (Washington Post)
“The appalling behavior that has been in the headlines for weeks isn’t going to stop just because some high-profile men have fallen from grace,” Margaret Sullivan argues, saying that media companies need to address their “deep-seated gender inequality.” That includes having women in leadership ranks: “Having a critical mass of female decision-makers, rather than a token presence, allows ideas to bubble up and voices to be heard in new ways. This is, of course, true for racial diversity, too,” Sullivan writes. “Now, a few powerful men have been shamed or demoted, but the underlying issues of gender inequality and power dynamics live on. In all kinds of insidious ways, women remain underrepresented in media, and their voices remain muted. Until these issues are seriously addressed, nothing will change.”

+ “It’s worth questioning a culture … that would take a principled stand against a perceived attack on a magazine’s values but not one against an accused serial workplace harasser whose behavior was considered an open secret; where you can venerate a man as one of the greatest intellectuals of our time while turning a blind eye to his alleged treatment of women for three decades,” Clio Chang writes on Leon Wieseltier and The New Republic (Splinter News); Ezra Klein asks, what does it mean that political journalism was shaped by men who have been accused of sexual harassment? (Vox)

+ Marin Cogan reflects on what it was like to be a young woman trying to move up in an industry dominated by men: “It becomes harder and harder for a woman to look into the power structures she aspires to join and see herself as belonging — especially when there are so few women there to serve as examples. Even when there are other women at a similar level, being at the bottom rung of these organizations can be a very lonely place. When a young woman is in a workplace where she feels replaceable, it is particularly dangerous for her to work with someone who is treated as utterly irreplaceable.” (New York Times)

+ Noted: A survey by The Verge and Reticle Research on Americans’ attitudes about tech companies finds that people think news on Facebook is about as accurate as news found elsewhere (The Verge); Democracy Fund awards a $250,000 grant to LION Publishers to help local news outlets identify more ways to make money with advertising, sponsored content, email newsletters and native advertising (Poynter); Facebook says it’s bringing more transparency to all ads on the platform — not just political ads: Users will soon be able to see all ads that a Facebook page is running, and Facebook will require more disclosure in election-related ads (Facebook Newsroom); WikiTribune is expected to launch this week (Global Editors Network)


Stop saying pageviews don’t matter: How to reframe what pageviews tell us and use them in conjunction with engagement metrics (MediaShift)
In newsrooms, pageviews are called “everything from passé to obsolete,” journalism professor Nicole Blanchett Neheli writes. But pageviews are a valuable metric, Neheli says — we just need to reframe how we think about what pageviews are telling us. Neheli explains: “It’s time to reframe the focus to what pageviews do tell us, and then breach the divide on how to use volume metrics in conjunction with engagement metrics to develop proper context and useful audience insight that contribute to quality storytelling, in ways short-staffed newsrooms can manage.”


Going from a metered model to a ‘freemium’ model, Germany’s Die Welt has added nearly 80,000 subscribers (Digiday)
In September 2016, German daily Die Welt made a major change to its subscription model: The news organization moved from a metered model that allowed uses 20 free articles per month to a “freemium” model where 15 percent of its content requires a digital subscription. Its subscription product, WeltPlus, offers its “most exclusive content” for €19.99 ($23.40 USD) a month. Since switching models just over a year ago, Die Welt has added 78,000 subscribers. “We have lots of customers at the top; then we optimize the sales funnel with different offers and checkout payments using what we know from e-commerce,” explains VP of consumer business Dominik Stiefermann on how metrics drive this model. “The best starting point is the premium articles.”


What managers can learn from Larry David: Obsess over social details and matters of etiquette that communicate subtle messages (Quartz at Work)
Achieving diversity and inclusion in the workplace is fostered by “micro-choices, micro-actions, and micro-behaviors” — of which Larry David is a great example, Lila MacLellan writes. On David’s shows, characters obsess over small social cues and details, such as a missed hello, and why those moments happen.  “Macro policies and company mission statements about diversity are also essential …  but it’s the day-to-day decisions about who gets invited to a meeting, whose opinions are sought out, and what assumptions are made about people — particularly by leaders in an organization — that determine the fate of the mission,” MacLellan explains. “When we don’t bring awareness to these moments, we’re likely to continue repeating the same patterns of behavior, emphasizing, socializing, and promoting the people we know best (people who usually look a lot like ourselves).”


Why journalism needs to address its class problem: If journalism is meant to shine a light, we need to shine a light for everyone (Heather Bryant, Medium)
“Newsrooms are inherently powerful by nature of what we do, no matter our size, and we cannot be ignorant of our privilege,” Heather Bryant argues on why it’s imperative that journalism addresses its class problem. “If we’re going to be faithful to the duty of our profession, when economic inequality is greater than ever and issues of race, gender and politics are at the front of everyone’s mind, we have to do better. … Let’s figure out what we’re missing and what we aren’t, [and] let’s be open with our audiences about it.”


MySpace and GateHouse Media ended up as pawns in an elaborate ad fraud scheme — and neither company knows who’s behind it (BuzzFeed News)
This summer, it briefly looked like MySpace might have been back, Craig Silverman writes: Millions of visitors were coming to its new video page, which could have generated a new wave of revenue for its parent company Time Inc. But an investigation by BuzzFeed News found that both MySpace and GateHouse Media were pawns in an elaborate ad fraud scheme around video views. Here’s how it worked: Before it was shut down last week, the page streamed licensed videos from reputable publishers. Suspicious amounts of traffic were being directed to the page, and the traffic triggered “automatic redirects and page refreshes that generated massive amounts of video ad impressions without any human involvement.” Similar schemes were identified on GateHouse Media’s subdomains, and the company says it’s in the process of shutting those pages down.

+ The way this scam worked is similar to how “zombie websites,” which BuzzFeed News investigated earlier this month, use fraudulent views to make money (BuzzFeed News)

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