Need to Know: April 18, 2018

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


You might have heard: A report from the Knight Foundation published earlier this month suggests local TV news is “doing way better than you’d think” (Nieman Lab): “No other existing news medium appears to have more advantages right now than local TV news,” the report says (Knight Foundation)

But did you know: For the first time in 20 years, estimates suggest that more journalists are employed by TV news organizations than by newspapers (RTDNA)
For the first time since RTDNA began tracking TV news employment, TV news organizations now employ more people than newspapers do. According to RTDNA’s data, newspapers employed 25,000 people in 2017; TV news organizations employed 27,100. The number of TV news jobs declined slightly between 2016 and 2017 from 27,870, but newspapers saw a much larger decline: In 2016, newspapers employed 32,875 people. RTDNA historically received newspaper employment data from ASNE, but 2017’s estimate was compiled by Ken Doctor as ASNE stopped tracking total newspaper employment.

+ Noted: FiveThirtyEight is moving to ABC News (Wall Street Journal); The remaining staff at LA Weekly say they’ve received veiled threats and intimidation as a result of a boycott against the weekly’s new owners (CJR); The AP Stylebook updates its entry on polling to add, “poll results that seek to preview the outcome of an election must never be the lead, headline or single subject of any story” (AP Definitive Source); The New Republic’s editorial staff votes to unionize with the NewsGuild of New York (NewsGuild of New York); A former Cambridge Analytica employee tells Parliament that Breitbart News gave the company exclusive rights to resell its engagement data in 2016 (Daily Beast); After acquiring magazine app Texture, Apple is planning to launch its own news subscription service, similar to Apple Music (Bloomberg); Facebook’s head of news feed Adam Mosseri says it’s “quite likely” that Facebook will add upvote and downvote buttons (; Northwestern University is launching the Local News Initiative, a project led by Tim Franklin that aims to “[provide] greater understanding of how digital audiences engage with local news and [find] new approaches to bolster local news business models” (Northwestern University); Poynter announces a second round of its table stakes program, and potential participants must complete a 5-part webinar series in order to qualify (Poynter NewsU)


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Data from an Australian newspaper suggests that readers want online stories displayed in simpler ways (INMA)
Large multimedia projects like The New York Times’ Snow Fall show off how journalism can be brought to life on the Internet. But Nathaniel Bane, head of digital at the Herald Sun in Australia, says that research from his paper shows that readers typically want simpler storytelling techniques — and strategies from other news outlets support that, too. “We have experimented with rich storytelling techniques with varying degrees of readership return. We have rested on the fact — for now — that multimedia must be simple and must complement a story,” Bane explains. “We also need to pick a format — whether it is text, photography, video, or audio — do it once, and do it well. Interactives — or richly built article pages with multiple moving elements — simply drive less engagement and traffic than a standard article page. They can play their part in a suite of offerings, but they must be used sparingly and only when the content suits.”

+ A curated list of tools for trust mentioned in a panel at the 2018 International Journalism Festival (Aron Pilhofer, Medium); Jay Rosen explained at IJF what “optimize for trust” means in practice (IJF, YouTube)


Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered 6 months ago. Now, 18 international news organizations are working together to finish her stories (The Guardian)
Last fall, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed when by a car bomb just miles from her home in Malta. In addition to working on the Panama Papers project, Caruana Galizia ran a blog in Malta that reported on topics such as money laundering, the Italian mafia, and a program that allowed foreigners to purchase Maltese passports. Six months after her death, 18 international news organizations, led by Forbidden Stories, are working together to finish the last stories she was working on. The project launched on Tuesday with the story of Caruana Galizia’s murder, the men who are facing trial for it, and the mystery of who ordered it and why.

+ Facebook is partnering with Boom, a fact-checking organization based in Mumbai, to start a pilot project in the Indian state of Karnataka, fact-checking English-language content ahead of the state elections (BuzzFeed News)


‘How the weird power dynamics of job interviews can brainwash you into putting up with outrageous behavior’ (Slate)
There’s a strange power dynamic between job seekers and employers, Alison Green writes: Job seekers feel obligated to put up with employers’ weird or outright bad behavior because they think the interviewer holds all the power. “There’s something about job interviews that makes even strong candidates feel like they must simply wait compliantly to receive the interviewer’s judgment. Job seekers would be so much better served by realizing that interviewers aren’t doing them a favor by bestowing time upon them and that each party is there to determine if they’d like to enter into a business arrangement with the other,” Green writes. “Just as the employer is assessing the candidate, candidates should be assessing the employer right back — and figuring out whether they want this job and to work with these people and for this company.”


By failing to disclose his relationship with Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Sean Hannity’s ethics come into question — even as an ‘advocacy journalist’ (Politico)
Sean Hannity has gone back and forth over whether he is a journalist or conservative activist. But even as an “advocacy journalist,” Michael Calderone argues that failing to disclose his relationship with Michael Cohen puts his credibility on the line. Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin, tells Calderone that you don’t “move out of the realm of ethics when we move into the realm of opinion.” Culver says commentators should still be expected to maintain independence from the topics they cover: “We’re talking about one of the most important news stories of this time and he did not disclose his connection to it while commenting on it. His audience deserves to know when he has connections that may be affecting that commentary.”

+ Frank Pine, executive editor of Digital First’s Southern California News Group, says the group’s publications have had their staff cut by nearly half in just two years: “If news is to survive, it’s unlikely to do it in its current form, as a business that produces high-margin returns. … When the news media ownership’s priority is profit, the public service aspect of the Fourth Estate takes a back seat to the balance sheet. That does not make for good journalism.” (Orange County Register)


‘How Much Is a Word Worth?’ An analysis of freelance writing rates over time (Medium)
Today, freelance writers are paid between 25 and 50 cents per word, Malcolm Harris reports based on interviews and his own experience; that ends up being about $500 for a 1,000- to 2,000-word article. But Harris also reports that in 1977, a $500 rate for stories was standard. “During the past 52 years, a single dollar has lost nearly 87 percent of its value, and so have the words of professional freelance writers. That has meant, unavoidably, a big change in the quality of the job,” he writes.