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Need to Know: Sept. 14, 2017

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


You might have heard: Earlier this month, Facebook disclosed that a Russian firm linked to the Kremlin bought $100,000 worth of political ads during the U.S. presidential campaign (NPR): “Facebook owes us a more complete accounting of how its targeting features and dark ads have been used to manipulate public opinion. And to the extent that those features are being used illegally, it owes us at least as much action as it has taken to stop the spread of hoaxes,” Casey Newton argues (Verge)

But did you know: Facebook is establishing formal rules about what kinds of content can be monetized in Instant Articles, branded content and other ad forms (TechCrunch)
On Wednesday, Facebook released formal rules for what kinds of content cannot be monetized through its ad network. Facebook is explicitly prohibiting the following types of content: misappropriation of children’s characters, tragedy and conflict, debated social issues, violent content, adult content, explicit content, prohibited activity, drug and alcohol use, and inappropriate language. “Most interestingly, Facebook isn’t distinguishing between some publishers that glorify this content and those that share it to drive awareness or condemnation,” Josh Constine writes. “Instead, it’s all lumped together. That could subtly push publishers away from covering some of the more divisive topics in the world from war to social justice because they know they can’t earn money from it. … Setting these aggressive rules on what can’t be monetized is akin to making an editorial decision about what content it approves.”

+ Pressure is mounting against Facebook to release campaign ads bought by Russia: “By hosting these secretly-sponsored Russian political ads, Facebook appears to have been used as an accomplice in a foreign government’s effort to undermine democratic self-governance in the United States,” Campaign Legal Center president Trevor Potter wrote in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg (Yahoo News)

+ Noted: The New York Times is bringing The Wirecutter and Sweethome under the Wirecutter name and redesigning the website: Wirecutter’s ad sales have increased by 50 percent year-over-year as it has added new product review categories (Bloomberg); At the digital marketing conference Dmexco, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey downplays the importance of video on Twitter and emphasizes Twitter’s potential as a real-time platform for news and conversation (Adweek); A lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by journalists and a filmmaker this week argues that their First and Fourth Amendments were violated by a border search (Gizmodo); NAHJ releases a statement saying it will conduct a review of its proposed partnership with the California Chicano News Media Association, leading to questions from members about its finances (Latino Reporter); The Washington Post’s “robot reporter” has published more than 850 articles this year (Digiday)


Using metrics to guide editorial: Insights from the Daily Beast (MediaShift)
“One way to create good journalism is to have a CMS that makes sense for journalists,” Daily Beast product manager Emma Carew Grovum says. “What does the newsroom need to take their amazing journalism that they’re doing and get it out there? Part of that is the packaging in the CMS.” Hearken’s Julia Haslanger talks to Carew Grovum about how metrics guide Daily Beast’s editorial — including how metrics are guiding a homepage redesign at the Daily Beast and why the Daily Beast is incorporating metrics directly into its CMS.


Trinity Mirror is cutting up to 40 editorial jobs as it tries to fill its print pages with more wire copy and shared content (PressGazette)
Trinity Mirror is cutting about 40 editorial jobs at its regional newspapers as it changes how it fills its print newspapers. At the same time, about 15 new jobs will be created, which are expected to include “community content curators.” Trinity Mirror is looking to expand content sharing between its titles, as well as using wire copy more often. The National Union of Journalists is calling for “urgent talks” with Trinity Mirror on these plans: “Jargon about a ‘more synchronized approach’ and ‘aligning design structures’ can’t hide the fact that these are bad old fashioned job cuts affecting several Trinity Mirror centres around the country. More generic content across the titles and an increase in user generated content if it is at the expense of other coverage such as courts and councils, means short-changing local readers,” NUJ national organizer Laura Davison said.


Security tips startups should follow to protect users’ data: ‘If you don’t need to keep the data, don’t’ (Observer)
In the wake of Equifax’s data breach, Postlight’s podcast Track Changes talks this week about security tips that startups should be following to protect users’ data. Here’s what Postlight, a digital product studio, recommends: “If you don’t need to keep the data, don’t,” use services that emphasize security and protecting data, and encrypt users’ data so that only the user can see it.

+ Slack adds the ability to create shared channels with other companies (Recode)


Gizmodo’s general counsel: The Hulk Hogan case set a ‘precedent that rich people can finance other people’s lawsuits and bankrupt media organizations’ (CJR)
“Our president has contributed to the atmosphere with which people think they can bring crazy claims against the media and maybe win,” Gizmodo general counsel Lynn Oberlander said at Columbia Journalism School this week. Since Oberlander was hired in February, Gizmodo Media Group has faced a number of lawsuits: Pro-Trump reporter Cassandra Fairbanks is suing a Fusion reporter who tweeted that Fairbanks made a white power hand gesture, while Hulk Hogan’s lawyer Charles Harder is bringing cases against Deadspin and Jezebel for stories about a life coach’s “cult.” “It is so expensive to defend these cases. It is just crazy expensive. And many organizations just don’t have those resources,” Oberlander explains on how the effects of the Hogan case are playing out in the industry. “It is a precedent that juries can give away a lot of money and then can bankrupt a company, and it’s some level of a precedent that rich people can finance other people’s lawsuits and bankrupt media organizations.”

+ After ESPN’s Jemele Hill called Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter (Sports Illustrated), White House press secretary Sarah Sanders calls Hill’s criticism a “fireable offense by ESPN” (Washington Post); Hill apologized for her comments and ESPN says, “She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology” (CNN Media)


A new organization is looking to advance diversity in photojournalism (New York Times)
Diversify Photo is a new organization that’s “creating a place where people can come and see photographers of color, to know they are out there and they exist, and to provide editors with the ability to find people not in their circles.” Led by The Undefeated’s Brent Lewis and freelance photo editor Andrea Wise, Diversify Photo will create educational, career development and mentorship programs for photographers of color — including college students. Lewis says that Diversify Photo will also work with groups such as Women Photograph and Reclaim “to push for more diverse perspectives in visual storytelling.”

+ “Snark aside, Mic sees signs of progress in its pivot to video” (Digiday)

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