Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Sept. 18, 2017

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


You might have heard:Every major advertising group is blasting Apple for blocking cookies in the Safari browser,” arguing it will hurt the user experience and campaign targeting (Adweek)

But did you know: Apple responded to ad groups’ criticism, saying the feature will not block ads or interfere with ‘legitimate tracking’ on sites people click on and visit (The Loop)
“Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet,” Apple said in a statement to The Loop on its technology to intelligently block cookies in Safari. “The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit. Cookies for sites that you interact with function as designed, and ads placed by web publishers will appear normally.” Jim Dalrymple writes: “Those last two sentences say a lot to me. If, as a user, I interact with an advertisement on the Internet, it will allow tracking for those sites — that’s fair. However, it won’t allow these ad groups to endlessly track everything I do on the Web and show me ads — that’s fair too. What Apple is doing is good for consumers.”

+ “The anti-advertising push is spreading,” as Google also plans to introduce an ad-blocking feature in Chrome in 2018 (Wall Street Journal); Google also announced that starting next year, Chrome will no longer autoplay videos with sound: Videos will only autoplay if there is no sound or if the user has “indicated an interest in the media” (VentureBeat)

+ Noted: Wenner Media is putting Rolling Stone magazine up for sale: The company’s other two magazines, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal, were sold to American Media earlier this year (New York Times); Quartz is partnering with local newspaper The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, on a project about the effects of climate change in the lower Rio Grande Valley (; NBC is adding its first media reporting unit: Led by Claire Atkinson, “a team of internal and external contributors to cover some of the biggest media stories that cut across politics, technology, business and culture” (Axios)


The Innovation Divide: Similarities and differences in how managers and staff view the transition to digital
API is releasing a fresh look at data gathered from more than 10,000 people who studied journalism and communications, assessing the similarities and differences between managers and staff in journalism. The results of the survey suggest that managers are more comfortable embracing new digital practices and technologies, managers and staff members report similar experiences and frustration with cut backs, and that staff members are more critical of sponsored content and media owners.

+ API releases dataset for large-sample survey of people in media


‘Publishers, pick your KPIs and stick with them’ (Monday Note)
A common question from newsrooms is, what indicators should be prioritized? The answer, Frederic Filloux says, depends on your business model, growth strategy and priorities — all of which sometimes interfere with each other. “For instance, favoring fast load times means working on ad density and eliminate fat ad formats, but also mercilessly timing out sleepy ad servers,” Filloux writes. Choosing your key indicators can be an exercise of sorts in what matters to your company: For example, is bringing in new subscriptions and improving user experience more important than digital ads that slow down load times?

+ “BuzzFeed’s strategy for getting content to do well on all platforms? Adaptation and a lot of A/B testing” (Nieman Lab)


Complying with a request from the Saudi Arabian government, Snapchat removes Al Jazeera’s Discover channel in Saudi Arabia (Wall Street Journal)
On Sunday, Snap Inc. said it complied with a request from the Saudi Arabian government to “block access to Al Jazeera news articles and videos.” Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language Discover channel was removed from Snapchat in Saudi Arabia. Al Jazeera is describing its removal as “an attempt to silence freedom of expression,” while Snapchat argues that it had no choice but to comply with local laws.

+ “Like other tech giants before it, [Snapchat] is now facing a dilemma. On the one hand, it’s trying to beef up its global expansion in an effort to catch up with its bigger rivals (including Facebook-owned Instagram). But, it also has to balance its pursuit of new users with issues of censorship and free speech in local markets,” writes Saqib Shah (Engadget)


‘Nikon couldn’t seem to find a woman photographer, so women photographers let them have it’ (Fast Company)
Last week, Nikon posted a photo of the photographers across Asia and Africa it asked to test its new D850 camera. Out of those 32 photographers, not a single one was a woman. Female photographers have been heavily criticizing Nikon on social media, saying “Is the Nikon D850 for men only?” and “Sad to think of all the young women/girls who won’t see themselves here.” Nikon’s response? “Unfortunately, the female photographers we had invited for this meet were unable to attend, and we acknowledge that we had not put enough of a focus on this area,” the company said on Twitter.


What the controversy at ESPN around Jemele Hill’s ‘white supremacist’ comment says about diversity in newsrooms: Journalists of color are frustrated that they’re brought in to represent a different perspective, but are punished for expressing those perspectives (Washington Post)
“The media is more focused and proceeded more in bringing different types of faces than bringing different types of perspectives,” argues Ibram Kendi, a former journalist and author of author of “Stamped From the Beginning,” in a Q&A with The Washington Post. “The main reason why any media organization should want to have different faces is it will bring different perspectives into the newsroom, perspectives that are more representative of the many cultural perspectives of people in this society, even philosophical perspectives. Jemele’s statements are statements that are widely believed, philosophically, within the African American community. For her to be censured for something that is widely believed in her community is simultaneously censuring the ideas of her community. It’s saying, ‘Your ideas are not allowed here.’”

+ ESPN public editor Jim Brady: “Even though [Hill] is a commentator and not a news reporter, she’s still a journalist, and I don’t think she met that standard here” (ESPN)


Governments are turning the tables by suing public records requesters (Associated Press)
“Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive,” Ryan J. Foley reports. “Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.” These lawsuits tend to ask judges that the records being requested do not have to be divulged, and do not seek damages, though the requesters are named as defendants. But the trend is alarming freedom-of-information advocates, who see the lawsuits as a new way for governments to hide information. “This practice essentially says to a records requester, ‘File a request at your peril.’ … These lawsuits are an absurd practice and noxious to open government,” says University of Kansas journalism professor Jonathan Peters.

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