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Need to Know: Oct. 6, 2017

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


You might have heard:The Internet is pushing the American news business to New York and the coasts” (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: ProPublica is creating the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, funding reporters in news organizations based in cities with populations under 1 million (ProPublica)
“Over the past several years, economic pressures have reduced the ability of local and regional news organizations to support accountability reporting. That’s a challenge not just for journalism, but also for our democracy,” ProPublica says. To address that problem, the organization is creating the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. In 2018, ProPublica will fund one full-time investigative reporter’s salary and benefits at six partner news organizations located in cities with populations under 1 million. Though the reporters will still work in their home newsrooms, they’ll receive guidance from ProPublica, and their stories will be published by ProPublica, as well as their home newsrooms.

+ Noted: The Atlantic’s membership program launched on Thursday: The Masthead offers members access to members-only stories, priority access to Atlantic events, and opportunities to connect with Atlantic writers and editors (The Atlantic); Facebook’s latest attempt to deal with fake news on the platform is a button that gives users additional context about a publisher in their news feed: By clicking an “i” button in the news feed, users will see an informational panel that includes a Wikipedia entry about the publisher, “which could help people know if it’s a reputable, long-standing source of news” (TechCrunch); Google is paying publishers to work on “Stamp,” its own version of Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories (Recode); At least six journalists were arrested in St. Louis earlier this week while covering protests (U.S. Press Freedom Tracker); The Membership Puzzle Project releases Membership Models in News Database, which includes the data the project has collected on nearly 100 news organizations with membership programs (Membership Puzzle Project)


The week in fact-checking
As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes whether the government should regulate misinformation, resources on how to be a better fact-checker, and the relationship between social media and politics.

+ Applications are now open for API’s paid summer fellowship program: Unlike summer internships, API’s summer fellows work on a self-proposed fellowship project, in addition to contributing to API’s other programs. Applications should be submitted by Jan. 7, 2018.


A prototype for stemming misinformation during breaking news events (MisinfoCon)
Deliberate misinformation spreads on social media during breaking news events by taking advantage of how social media algorithms work. Gabriel Stein proposes a prototype for how to stem misinformation during breaking news: News organizations could partner to create a cooperative site that “publishes automatically updating topic pages that link to high-quality coverage of breaking news events.” Stein explains that partners would agree to fact-checking and journalistic standards, and the website’s topic pages would “automatically aggregate all coverage of the event from member news organizations.”

+ ICFJ has a new resource for sharing free tools created by Knight Fellows: houses 30 tools and projects created by Knight Fellows, spanning from multimedia to data to training (International Journalists’ Network)


Trinity Mirror Regionals’ digital editor in chief: Readers are ignoring facts and heading straight to the comments (HoldTheFrontPage)
Allison Gow, digital editor in chief for Trinity Mirror Regionals, described a culture of “read the headline and then go straight to the comments,” which she says she’s seen develop over the last two or three years. Gow says this has become one of the “great problems” facing the journalism industry. Gow says: “The thing that worries me particularly is actually the way that the public mood has changed towards news, the false news and the misinformation and the kind of ‘read the headline and then go straight to the comments’ and the confirmation bias that has really started to become a big issue recently.”


‘Will chatbots become part of the consumer search experience?’ (Search Engine Land)
Bing is testing chatbots in paid and organic search results, mostly in the Seattle area, using bots to help users make a restaurant reservation, for example. Could chatbots become part of our typical search experience? “If chatbots are to become a part of the consumer search experience in the future, agencies and in-house teams have to set expectations with brands about the level of resource and data integration requirements,” David Freeman writes. “We should keep a close watch on the direction search engines are moving, but at this early stage, this type of integration is more suited to brands with a healthy test-and-learn budget. For these brands, the test-and-learn process should not purely focus on search integration but rather how chatbots can be used to enhance consumer experience across owned, earned and paid channels.”


What if the platforms are too big to regulate? (New York Times)
“Social-media companies aren’t new to defending themselves in ideological terms — they’re just not used to doing it on their home turf,” John Herrman writes. “It’s very likely that any approach to regulating Facebook will look more like diplomacy than anything else — a cautious search for détente with an institution that ultimately gets to set its own laws, whether a government likes it or not. Indeed, the company has been presenting itself as a willing, generous participant in American investigations, but more generally as a supranational, self-regulating force for good, and, boldly, as indispensable for the continuation of democracy around the world.”


FiveThirtyEight asks: Does the media cover Trump too harshly, too much and too narrowly? (FiveThirtyEight)
In FiveThirtyEight’s politics chat this week, its team discusses Pew Research Center’s report examining how the media has covered the Trump administration this far, asking: Is this media covering Trump too much and missing issues, are news organization covering Trump too negatively, and are they covering Trump too narrowly in old narratives? “This whole chat reflects ways in which ‘traditional’ models are broken. Although, I’d say less ‘traditional’ models than contemporary ones. Traditional reporting isn’t broken so much as the model centered on ‘winning the day’ by building vapid narratives, which is a fairly modern invention,” Nate Silver says.


+ ‘Rupert Murdoch is the media’s unlikely hero in the war against Facebook and Google’ (BuzzFeed News)

+ How Politico found Tom Price’s private jets: The story started with a tip back in May, followed by months of reporting that finally started to come together with a stakeout at Dulles airport (Politico)

+ “That time #Ramona made everyone smile for a few minutes”: A NPR social media editor accidentally posted something intended for his personal Facebook on NPR’s Facebook, unintentionally creating an Internet phenomenon (NPR)

+ A profile of Alex Stamos, the security expert leading Facebook’s internal investigation into Russia’s political ads (Recode)

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