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Need to Know: April 13, 2018

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


You might have heard: Lewis D’Vorkin was editor in chief of the Los Angeles Times for a brief three months, and was replaced by Jim Kirk in January after saying that someone at the Times was “morally bankrupt” (Los Angeles Times)

But did you know: Tronc cut dozens of employees this week, including former LA Times editor Lewis D’Vorkin (Los Angeles Times)
Several dozen employees were laid off by Tronc on Thursday — including former Los Angeles Times editor Lewis D’Vorkin, who had become chief content officer of Tribune Interactive. D’Vorkin said his parting with Tronc was mutual, and his “heart just wasn’t in” the initiatives Tribune Interactive was planning. The layoffs mostly targeted Tribune Interactive’s L.A.-based video and online content teams, which are separate from the L.A. Times. The Times reports that the layoffs were due to “a change in the company’s business strategy.”

+ Noted: Civic group Together for Colorado Springs is trying to buy The Denver Post: “We believe that The Denver Post is vital for Colorado,” chairman John Weiss said, “It should be owned by people in Denver, but it should also be owned by people statewide because it’s a statewide paper, not just a Denver paper” (New York Times); The AP reports that the National Enquirer paid a former Trump doorman $30,000 for a rumor that Trump had an illegitimate child (Associated Press) and the AP acknowledges that it killed a story in August 2017 on the rumor (Politico); The FCC wants more distance between Sinclair and Tribune stations it plans to spin off, and is concerned that it’s selling the stations for below market price (Wall Street Journal) and FCC chairman Ajit Pai refuses to investigate Sinclair after a dozen senators request an investigation under the “news distortion standard” (Ars Technica); GateHouse Media buys the Akron Beacon Journal (Crain’s Cleveland)


The week in fact-checking
As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes students who are working on fact-checking and misinformation projects around the world, why Facebook is the “best propaganda platform,” and why one TV show’s showrunners really want you to fact-check them.


‘Reinventing the Rolodex: Why we’re asking our 60,000 members what they know’ (De Correspondent)
The experience and expertise of readers is an untapped resource in journalism, De Correspondent’s Ernst-Jan Pfauth writes. Pfauth explains how De Correspondent is asking its 60,000 paying members what they know in a more systematic way, and using their knowledge to expand their bank of sources, better their reporting, and turn their tips into stories. “Members are showing us they don’t just want to support journalism financially, they also want to contribute their knowledge and experience. It’s our responsibility as journalists to help them do that,” Pfauth writes.

+ Here’s what we know so far about Google Chrome’s mobile article recommendations, “the next major traffic driver for publishers”: Stories that are recommended also tend to do well in search, and stories tend to be somewhat evergreen (Nieman Lab)


More than half of Politico Europe’s revenue now comes from paid subscriptions (Digiday)
Politico Europe now brings in more than half of its revenue from paid subscriptions, with the rest coming from advertising and events. That revenue mix puts it in line to match the mix of Politico U.S.’s business. The Europe bureau has been growing its subscription revenue by adding “vertical-specific products catering to European policymakers.” Plus, Politico Europe will add a research tool for its Pro subscribers, something the U.S. counterpart already does.


Disney kicked off its streaming future this week with the launch of ESPN+ (The Verge)
The launch of ESPN+ is more than just sports news, Chris Welch writes. The $4.99/month subscription streaming service is just the beginning of Disney’s streaming future; the company has already announced plans for its own standalone video service to launch in 2019. “This will be a crucial area of Disney going forward as it builds out a full-on Netflix rival with animated hits and superhero blockbusters as the foundation,” Welch explains. “ESPN+ is literally being described by ESPN executives as ‘the maiden voyage’ of that streaming segment.”


‘Without the union, I probably would have never been hired by the Chicago Sun-Times’ (Neil Steinberg)
Were it not for the Chicago Sun-Times’ union, columnist Neil Steinberg says he likely would have never been hired, explaining how he went from freelancing to be a full-time reporter, thanks to the union. Steinberg praises the Chicago Tribune’s newsrooms’ organization: “It’s encouraging to see our colleagues at the Tribune moving to unionize. Given how they have been manhandled by a series of cash-sodden jerks: grave dancer Sam Zell, tech toddler Michael Ferro — they need something strong on their side, protecting them against the whims of whoever can muster the cash,” he writes.

+ “As demonstrated by recent battles at the Times and Denver Post, journalists are pushing back forcefully against profit-squeezing cuts that jeopardize their papers’ missions. The wave of unionization, even at outlets long hostile to organized labor, signals a new front in the fight for a future at some of the nation’s most prestigious titles.” (CJR)


How much are you willing to pay for an ad-free Facebook? Most people say they’d rather stick with the ads (Recode)
Speaking to Congress this week, Mark Zuckerberg suggested that there may one day be a premium, paid version of Facebook: “There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,” he said. But are people willing to pay for an ad-free version of Facebook? A survey conducted by Recode and market research company Toluna suggests that most people aren’t willing to pay: 77 percent said they’d rather stick with the regular ad version, while 23 percent said they would pay not to see ads.


+ What’s the future of Sports Illustrated as Meredith prepares to sell the magazine? “Are the dire straits that SI finds itself in simply the product of the horrific state of modern magazines? Or is it the result of grievous managerial and editorial missteps dating all the way back to the ’80s? … The answer seems to be: both,” Michael MacCambridge writes (The Ringer)

+ “The Denver Post’s protest should launch a new era of ‘calling B.S.’” (Nieman Lab)

+ Brian X. Chen downloaded his Facebook data, expecting not to see much as a sparse user of Facebook, but opening the file was “like opening Pandora’s box” (New York Times)

+ There’s two main challenges to fixing the problems the plagued journalism during the 2016 presidential election, Michael Massing writes: “One is bolstering local news. This is essential not only to keep citizens informed but also to uncover stories that can be picked up by national organizations. … [The second is] a radical rethinking of how to report on the country” (American Prospect)

+ “We’re kids, but we’re also journalists”: How students in Parkland covered the shooting they survived (Washington Post)

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