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Need to Know: Sept. 26, 2017

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


You might have heard:Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!,” Trump tweeted on Saturday (@realDonaldTrump, Twitter)

But did you know: After Trump’s tweeting threatening North Korea, Twitter says it will update its public policies to include a consideration of newsworthiness (The Verge)
On Monday, Twitter said it didn’t remove President Trump’s tweet threatening North Korea in part because it is newsworthy. As a result, Twitter says it will update its public guidance on what factors lead to a tweet being deleted to include a consideration of newsworthiness. “This has long been internal policy, and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it,” Twitter says. There’s been controversy since last year’s election on whether Twitter should hide some of Trump’s tweets or ban his account — but Twitter’s latest statement suggests that “Trump’s account will never be censored. Anything the President tweets is newsworthy, which means that none of his tweets can be pulled from the platform.”

+ Noted: Mashable is pursuing a possible sale, testing the “notion that ‘pivot to video’ leads to digital-media riches” (Wall Street Journal); Raycom Media and Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. announced a merger, creating one of the nation’s largest privately owned media groups (Editor & Publisher); The Knight Foundation is creating a new commission to address declining public trust in media: With a total of $4.5 million in funding, Knight is supporting projects at seven organizations and assembling “a large panel of familiar names from the media to academia to tackle declining public trust in the press and other democratic institutions” (Nieman Lab); Joe Biden is launching his own news briefing in partnership with a news startup: Called “Biden’s Briefing,” the podcast will be created in partnership with Ground Control (CNN Media); In a pre-conference workshop at the ASNE-APME conference, newsrooms participating in the Knight Lenfest News Initiative share their lessons from the program and API will unveil a new resource for news leaders (2017 ASNE-APME-APPM News Leadership Conference)


Should journalists describe Trump’s criticism of NFL players protesting during the National Anthem as ‘racist’? (CJR)
“Racially charged,” “racially loaded” and “racially divisive” are just a few of the terms journalists used this weekend to describe President Trump’s statements criticizing NFL players protesting during the National Anthem. Those statements, Pete Vernon writes, shows that “journalists have no problem identifying the underlying issue” — but what they have a problem with is the word “racist.” “Placing labels on speech by any public figure runs the risk of editorialization,” Vernon writes. “It’s a loaded word and resistance to using it is understandable, but dancing around it with euphemisms like ‘racially charged’ does a disservice to the cause of reporting accurately in consideration of the full context of Trump’s words. … Opinion writers and columnists have long felt free to label Trump’s words for what they are. Given the surfeit of evidence, of which his castigation of NFL players is only the latest piece, it’s time for reporters to do the same.”


China says it’s fined tech companies for not censoring content ahead of October’s party congress (CNBC)
Cyberspace Administration of China, which monitors online activity, said on Monday that they’ve fined Baidu, Tencent and Sina Weibo for failing to censor content online. “China has raised the pressure on the country’s internet space in what some say is an attempt to exert control in the lead up to the Communist Party Congress next month,” Saheli Roy Choudhury reports. The Cyberspace Administration did not specify how much the companies were fined. Under new guidelines that went into effect earlier this year, it could be as much as 500,000 yuan (about $76,000) — a relatively small amount for these tech companies.

+ WhatsApp was also blocked in much of China on Monday, another move to “step up surveillance ahead of a big Communist Party gathering next month” (New York Times)


Cluttered website designs can be bad for business, a new study suggests (Fast Company)
A new study by design analytics company EyeQuant shows that clean, clear design leads to lower bounce rates — and cluttered designs can be bad for business. To conduct the study, EyeQuant analyzed the designs of 300 e-commerce websites, running the sites through a machine learning algorithm to determine a “clarity score.” Bounce rates were then collected through digital analytics website Alexa, which were graphed against the clarity score. The result was a dramatic correlation between how “clean” a site was and a lower bounce rate. EyeQuant CEO Fabian Stelzer estimates that visual clarity could be as much as one-third of a person’s decision to stay or to bounce on an e-commerce site’s homepage. “As much as people critique web design today for always looking the same, there is a good reason for it. It’s not just easier on the eyes, it’s likely better for the bottom line,” Katherine Schwab writes on the findings.


Local news outlets deserve a share of Google and Facebook’s revenue, given that their content underpins their users’ needs (David Higgerson)
“There’s a whole world of value underpinning the local relevance of Google, Facebook and others which is funded by the regional media,” David Higgerson writes on research by the U.K.’s News Media Association on the importance of local news content on social networks. “We deserve a fairer share of the revenue associated with presence of our content on pages from which people find the information they need – such as Google’s increasing tendency to serve up the content of what’s on listicles natively on the search page before offering a link. It’s easy to blame Google and Facebook for the problems facing regional media, but it’s also unfair to. They succeed because they super-serve their users’ needs. Life is local as it always was — and Google and Facebook’s ability to super-serve local is aided massively by the regional press. … It’s not about subsidy. It’s about fair reward for services provided.”

+ “Why regulating Google and Facebook like utilities is a long shot” (Axios)


One news site in Madison, Wisc., has more people of color on its team than the rest of the local media combined (LION Publishers)
In a Q&A with LION Publishers executive director Matt DiRienzo, Madison365’s associate publisher Robert Chappell explains what makes the news site unique from other outlets in Madison: “We are the only outlet in town with more than two people of color on the editorial team. We have as many people of color on our team as the entire rest of the local media combined.” Chappell goes on to explain how this affects their coverage: Last summer, another news outlet in Madison published a list of 12 Democrats who might run for governor, all of whom were white. Madison365 then published its own list of 13 people of color who could credibly run for governor.

+ From when Madison365 launched in 2015: Madison365 was specifically created to serve communities of color (The Cap Times)

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