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Need to Know: Sept. 20, 2017

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


You might have heard: 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) and Trump attacked ESPN on Twitter (CNN Media); Hill apologized for her comments and ESPN said, “She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology” (CNN Media)

But did you know: ‘Shutting down voices such as Jemele Hill’s is worse than inappropriate. It’s dangerous’ (Washington Post)
“At a time in America when authoritarian tendencies are rising, shutting down voices such as Jemele Hill’s is worse than inappropriate,” Margaret Sullivan argues. “It’s dangerous.” Hill comes from a different perspective than a typical news reporter, given that she’s an anchor and commentator. And ESPN isn’t a conventional news organization, either. “Both of those factors give Hill a lot of leeway. Her only real misstep was in not making it clear that, in instances such as the one that went nuclear, she was expressing only her own opinions and not speaking for ESPN,” Sullivan writes.

+ “ESPN’s flap shows people can’t even agree on what they’re arguing over in Trump era” (NPR)

+ Earlier: What the controversy around Hill’s 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); ESPN public editor Jim Brady says, “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)

+ Noted: Google is launching new features in its Cloud Natural Languages API to help newsrooms and other businesses organize information (Google Cloud Platform Blog): Hearst and Vice have already been testing the features, which automatically classify content and analyze the sentiment in content (Axios); The Republican Governors Association launched a website that looks like a media outlet, only adding a disclosure after inquiry from the AP (Associated Press); Fox News moved to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the network fabricated quotes in its retracted story on the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich (Variety); Twitter says its internal controls are helping weed out accounts used for “promotion of terrorism,” saying it removed 299,649 accounts during the first half of this year (Reuters); Twitter built a Nuzzel lookalike that highlights stories shared and liked by people in your network (BuzzFeed News)


Vox’s lessons from building communities on Facebook: The groups are highly engaged communities with thoughtful debate and self-moderation (Facebook Media)
Vox has launched several Facebook groups around dedicated topics: They built a Facebook group for Americans who would be most affected by a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as well as a group for listeners of podcast The Weeds. Facebook’s Meghan Peters talks to Vox’s senior engagement manager Lauren Katz and director of programming Allison Rockey about how the groups have evolved and what they’ve learned along the way. Some highlights: These tend to be highly engaged and loyal audiences, who have thoughtful debates around sensitive issues and often moderate each other — and they even use the group to organize and meet up in person.

+ How to replace the content of an iOS push notification once it’s already gone out: Since the release of iOS 10, new APIs are giving publishers more control over a notification once it’s been published, technology that can be used to update notifications in breaking news situations as more information becomes available (Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab, Medium)


German publishers on their fight against ad blockers: ‘We are not going to give up’ (Digiday)
“We are not going to give up. [AdBlock Plus owner Eyeo is] facing serious charges,” Spiegel Online CEO Jesper Doub said last week at the Dmexco conference in Germany. “It’s one thing if you have users circumventing your idea of how your business works; it’s another thing entirely to have a professional organization earning off that. It’s something we thought as a principle we should do more to address ad blocking now.” German publishers are in the midst of a yearslong legal battle with Eyeo. Last week, German courts ruled that Eyeo is a legal vendor, a major blow to the publishers’ case to ban AdBlock Plus.

+ Is one side of Australia’s marriage equality debate being “silenced”? Analysis by BuzzFeed News finds that the “no” site of the debate is getting four times as much media coverage as the “yes” side — but it’s the “no” side that’s claiming it’s not getting attention from the media (BuzzFeed News)


‘After Equifax, Can Our Data Ever Be Safe?’ (Knowledge@Wharton)
There are three assumptions that are important to acknowledge in the digital age, Wharton professor Gad Allon says: Everything that can be connected will be connected, the way to make data more valuable is to get more data, and whatever can be hacked is going to be hacked. Given those assumptions, what solutions do we have to protect our data? Multi-factor authentication is one solution that’s already in use, but as Wharton professor Saikat Chaudhuri notes, “No technology will be completely secure, as crooks will always find ways to hack it.”


Amazon is becoming a third force in digital advertising, making the duopoly an oligopoly (The Drum)
As Amazon’s power as a product search engine continues to grow, it’s also gaining more power in the area of digital advertising, Lisa Lacy writes. Lacy argues that Amazon could pose a viable challenge to Facebook and Google, but it likely won’t overthrow the duopoly until it “starts to do more with online media and command a larger chunk of consumers’ time.” Instead, we’ll end up with three ad giants rather than two, creating an oligopoly. Lacy breaks down how that will play out, including how Amazon’s search capacity relates to advertising and whether Google and Facebook will lose ad dollars to Amazon.

+ It’s becoming more important for journalists to think about “the business side.” What should the relationship between the newsroom and non-news employees be? (Poynter)


A Q&A with Charles Sennott on how Report for America will put young journalists into underserved newsrooms (Nieman Lab)
“We’re thinking about smart, talented, emerging journalists. That could be people who are straight out of college and have no journalism experience; it could be people who have some expertise,” GroundTruth founder and CEO Charles Sennott says on what kinds of reporters Report for America is looking for. GroundTruth is a partner on Report for America, along with Google News Lab, Lenfest Institute, Knight Foundation and a number of other organizations. “The idea is really that local reporters are assigned to a newsroom. But we will also curate that content on the GroundTruth site — always in coordination with the local newsroom. Imagine if we have these reporters out there in four different regions, writing about their experiences, telling us some of the best stories they’re working on, generating stories about their journey and what they’re finding. We’d love to put that on the GroundTruth website. But the purpose of it is to work for the local news organization.”

+ iOS 11 was released on Tuesday. What do Apple’s updates mean for publishers and readers? (CJR)

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