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Need to Know: Sept. 5, 2017

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


You might have heard: New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman put the paper on the market in 2015, attracting the attention of Gristedes supermarket CEO John Catsimatidis and Cablevision’s James Dolan (New York Times); At that time, Dolan was expected to put in a bid of $1 for the paper, while Zuckerman hoped to bring in between $150 million and $200 million (New York Post)

But did you know: Tronc is buying the New York Daily News for $1, plus assumption of liabilities (New York Times)
Tronc announced Monday that it had acquired the New York Daily News, assuming control of its news operations and Jersey City printing plant. The Chicago Tribune reports that Tronc is purchasing the Daily News for just $1, plus the assumption of its operational and pension liabilities. NYT’s Sydney Ember and Andrew Ross Sorkin report that Tronc plans to save money by using the Jersey City printing plant to print the Hartford Courant and The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. — and Ember and Sorkin report that alone could save millions of dollars per year.

+ “The pension liabilities of the Daily News are believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars,” Brian Stelter reports (CNN Media)

+ Noted: The New York Times is creating a philanthropic arm focused on bringing in nonprofit funding for its journalism (New York Times); Indian Country Today Media Network, which publishes Indian Country magazine, will cease operations, saying it will go on an “operational hiatus to explore new business model” (Indian Country Today Media Network); The EPA singles out an AP reporter, accusing Michael Biesecker of writing an “incredibly misleading story about toxic land sites that are under water” and implying that “agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey” (Politico); Conservative book publisher Regnery says it will no longer recognize NYT’s accounting of book sales, meaning its authors can no longer claim to be “New York Times best-selling authors” (AP); The Washington Post is using automation to cover all high school football games in the Washington, D.C., area (Washington Post); Reuters is launching a grant program to “develop the next generation of photojournalists” (Reuters)


Ideas for keeping up Harvey coverage as Texas recovers: Focus on engaging with the communities affected (Poynter)
“The news out of Texas [last] week shows how journalism stands out in crisis, when reliable information is essential and when people producing the news are living the same story as the people who need it,” Melanie Sill writes. And as Texas recovers from Harvey, that service will need to continue for months and years to come. Sill, who worked at The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer during hurricanes Fran and Floyd in 1996 and 1999, offers some suggestions for how to make that happen: Regional and national outlets should collaborate on their coverage, focus on increasing financial support for journalism as a public service through subscriptions, corporate sponsorship and philanthropy, and actively engage with the communities that were affected.

+ Why do hoaxes go viral on social media during natural disasters? More people are looking at Facebook and Twitter so “the amplification happens much more quickly because you have more people looking at the story,” First Draft News’ Claire Wardle says (The Verge)


The BBC’s flagship news show’s review of newspaper headlines will start including online sources, raising questions about what’s ‘legitimate’ enough to be included (BuzzFeed News)
BBC flagship news show “Today” is preparing to replace its review of the day’s top newspaper headlines with a headline roundup that includes both print headlines and headlines from online news sources and foreign media outlets. “The decision will open up a new debate over which outlets count as ‘the media’ in 2017, whether there is a such a thing as a homogenous, easily summarized news agenda in modern Britain, and which websites are credible enough to be included in round-ups,” Jim Waterson writes for BuzzFeed News. “Deciding which online news outlets count as major sites could be problematic for Today, with the potential for … accusations of bias if some outlets receive more coverage than others and nontraditional fringe outlets are excluded.”

+ “This Korean incubator gives young media entrepreneurs a launchpad in a rough environment for startups” (Nieman Lab)


16% of the code on an average site belongs to Facebook. What does that mean for your website? (Ben Regenspan, Medium)
According to data by, 6 percent of the Internet’s top 10,000 high-traffic websites load content from Facebook’s servers, with most of those websites loading Facebook’s JavaScript SDK. Facebook SDK is code that’s needed to display features such as Facebook’s like button or comment widgets — and that code makes up 16 percent of all total size of all JavaScript on the average web page. Ben Regenspan explains what this means for your website: “When looked at in context, this is a tiny fraction of the total code execution time on the page. But it adds to the amount of time during which scrolling or otherwise interacting with the page can be a choppy and unpleasant experience. … Even setting aside the privacy impact of sending some user information to each of these third parties, the cost of all these features adds up quickly.”


How journalists should cover the ‘antifa’: Explain their beliefs, scope and scale (Washington Post)
“The fuzziness around antifa — and its hazards — should come as no surprise to those who remember how the news media first grappled with the term ‘alt-right.’” Margaret Sullivan writes on how journalists should cover the “antifa,” a broad left-leaning group whose name is short for anti-fascist. “These days, mainstream news organizations and liberal politicians are quick to criticize antifa — doing so vehemently has become a badge of honor — but less quick to explain the group’s ideology, tactics or goals. … Most news consumers, if they know anything about antifa, know what the president has told them, and what they’ve gleaned from the club-wielding protesters shown endlessly on TV: that it’s roughly the left-wing equivalent of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That’s not only untrue, but it has the effect of tarring everyone who protests Trump … The best thing journalists can do is to relentlessly explain the beliefs, scope and scale of antifa, and to resist conflating it with liberal groups.”


Q&A with HuffPost’s new head of strategy Hillary Frey, who’s leading its listening tour (Nieman Lab)
“As we work on our editorial strategy, the bus tour is a key part of that, as we figure out what we want to cover going forward and how we want to cover it,” HuffPost’s new head of strategy Hillary Frey, who’s leading its “Listen to America” tour, explains in a Q&A with Nieman Lab. “If we’re going to put new reporters in different regions, strategically where should they be? What will they be covering? What matters to these communities? … We’re not going in and saying, ‘What do you think about this?’ ‘What do you think about that?’ We want some expertise in how you guide a conversation to help people open up about what matters to them, and what issues they want to talk about. We really want to make sure we’re listening, and we’re asking questions that allow us to listen and respond and get people to go deeper, rather than go through set questions one through five.”

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