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Need to Know: Sept. 28, 2017

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


You might have heard: A study from the Duke Reporters’ Lab in June found that there’s a partisan divide over how liberals and conservatives use fact-checking: “While liberal sites are more likely to cite fact-checks and praise fact-checking, conservative sites are more likely to question the legitimacy of fact-checkers” (WUNC)

But did you know: ‘PolitiFact is on a quest to win over conservative America,’ taking a tour of cities that voted for Trump (Poynter)
PolitiFact is in the midst of a tour across conservative America, trying to reach the 88 percent of Trump supporters who do not trust media fact-checking. The tour launched two weeks ago in Mobile, Ala., and will conclude in mid-October in Charleston, W.V. In Mobile, PolitiFact staffers held an open forum at a public library to answer questions on how they fact-check; in Tulsa, Okla., they’ll hold an event at a local brewery and attend a GOP meeting. “Like a lot of media after the 2016 election, we did some kind of thinking about how we can improve our credibility and trust among readers, particularly among conservative readers or Donald Trump voters,” PolitiFact executive director Aaron Sharockman explains. “Wherever we go, the more people get to know us, the more that they trust us. We wanted to kind of test this hypothesis in new areas and communities.”

+ Noted: The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a request for Facebook to testify in an open hearing on how social media may have been used by foreign actors to influence the 2016 election: Google and Twitter have also been invited to testify, The Hill reports (The Hill); Facebook was warned in 2015 about how Russian trolls were using the site to influence Ukrainian politics, a year before the U.S. presidential election (Daily Beast); “In a defamation suit, BuzzFeed is trying to compel testimony from James Comey or James Clapper to establish the document’s centrality to the Russia investigation” (Vanity Fair); Three public radio executives are studying how self-driving cars will affect public media (Nieman Lab); Gizmodo Media Group is launching, a news site dedicated to “reporting on topics and issues that impact the future of our planet” (Fusion Media Group); People magazine is launching a $60/year subscription and rewards program that comes with perks such as tickets to Time Inc. events and deals at more than 1,000 retailers (Digiday)


Here’s why more news organizations are adopting text-only sites (Poynter)
Text-only sites, which used to be popular in the early days of the Internet, are making a comeback as a way to receive information during a natural disaster or for people with visual impairments, Melody Kramer writes. “They load much faster, don’t contain any pop-ups or ads or autoplay videos, and help people with low bandwidth or limited Internet access,” Kramer explains. In the event of a natural disaster, the sites use less bandwidth — but they’re also great for people who are visually impaired because these sites strip out unnecessary visual elements. Kramer talks to front-end website designer J. Albert Bowden, who’s interested in accessibility and web design standards, about how news organizations can build text-only sites, in addition to their normal websites, to help users.


In 2010, women worldwide were ‘significantly underrepresented and misrepresented’ in the media. Where are we now? (
Revisiting an article from its archives, a article from 2010 reported on a study by the Global Media Monitoring Project that found 46 percent of stories reinforced gender stereotypes and just 13 percent of news stories focused on women. That report also looked at the gender balance of newsroom teams in comparison to news coverage, concluding that women were “significantly underrepresented and misrepresented” in newsrooms. Seven years later, where are we now? The Global Media Monitoring Project publishes this report every five years, and its most recent report from 2015 found that women’s representation as news sources increased to 38 percent from 31 percent in 2005, but that the percentage of women included in stories as experts only increased by two percentage points over that time period (19 percent in 2015, 17 percent in 2005). More recently, a study from City University London in 2016 found that newsrooms in the U.K. are struggling with diversity: The study found British newsrooms are 94 percent white and 55 percent male.

+ Tips for how newsrooms can handle online harassment of female journalists: Provide specific training for women on dealing with online harassment, escalate situations early to the police, devote editorial coverage to the issue, and get access to technical, legal and psychological support (GIJN)


‘The fear of disruption can be more damaging than actual disruption’ (Strategy + Business)
In their research, PwC’s Paul Leinwand and Kellogg School of Management’s Cesare Mainardi found that the fear of disruption is often exaggerated, and companies tend to have longer to respond to disruption than they expect. “Panic-driven efforts to avoid or combat disruption can easily lead to hasty, reactive, short-term-oriented decisions that move a company in many directions at once, distracting its management and squandering its resources. The fear of disruption can thus be worse for a company than the actual disruption itself,“ Leinwand and Mainardi explain. “Of course, complacency or inaction can be just as problematic. Technological changes, and other external competitive forces, affect many business realities. Proactive measures are often needed. But they should be well thought out and center around those advantages that you already have and that you already control — your own strategy and strengths — rather than representing a rash overreaction to external forces largely outside your influence.”


In journalism, transparency might be the new objectivity (MediaShift)
“As much as the great institutions of journalism would like to continue to hold that line [of objectivity], journalism is more partisan than it has been in half a century,” USC Annenberg School of Journalism professor Gabriel Kahn argues, going on to explain why he believes journalism is entering a new partisan era. If objectivity isn’t the basis of reader trust anymore, Kahn argues that transparency then needs to be the foundation of journalism. “Implicit in the old notion of objectivity was that the journalistic methods of practice were sound. Because media organizations openly boasted that they had no agenda, their methods weren’t suspect. … The best way to expose the gap between those who ‘seek the truth and report it’ and those who gab about topics in the news and draw their own conclusions is to make the reporting process part of the story.”


A history of media measurement: Why digital media is dominated by volume metrics (Brent Merritt, Medium)
To understand why digital media analytics are dominated by volume metrics, Brent Merritt says you need to go back 90 years. Merritt explains efforts going back to the 1930s to understand audiences’ consumption of media content. Since those earliest attempts, advertiser support has been “more than any other factor, responsible for the emergence of audience measurement practices.” Merritt goes on to discuss how this relates to debates today about the limitations of volume-based metrics: “Publishers are now using an array of engagement metrics for editorial purposes, and some are experimenting with selling ads using currencies that are based on users’ attention rather than impressions. It remains to be seen how much these engagement metrics will chip away at the dominance of volume metrics for digital measurement. What’s certain, though, is that measuring the performance of digital media in the same basic manner as a radio broadcast ignores the rich array of audience data that digital platforms can provide.”

+ “Media has changed, and publishers now need to figure out what they can do better than Facebook and Google. The answer to this is not scale but focus and impact,” Thomas Baekdal argues, explaining metrics that publishers commonly cited that don’t mean much. “We also need to clean up our industry, because our use of data is horrendous. We need to invent better tools, so that we can provide brands with clarity about what each specific ad can be expected to achieve rather than the generalized summaries we see today” (Baekdal Plus)

+ Growing audiences with display advertising is “not natural,” Jim Brady says in this week’s Digiday Podcast: “The odds are definitely against you if you decide you’re going to do it exactly the same way that everyone’s tried to at this point, which is to monetize it primarily via display advertising. We went into it with the idea that it’s just not going to work because it requires you to grow an audience in a way that’s not natural. We’re not anti-advertising, but we just don’t want it to be ‘the thing’” (Digiday)

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