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Need to Know: April 23, 2018

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


You might have heard: Axel Springer has been fighting AdBlock Plus’ parent company Eyeo in German court for several years (Fortune), while also asking its readers to either turn off their ad blockers or pay (Ad Age)

But did you know: A German court ruled that ad-blocking is legal, a major blow in Axel Springer’s fight against ad-blocking (Engadget)
Late last week, Germany’s supreme court dismissed a case brought by Axel Springer against Eyeo, the owner of AdBlock Plus. The court ruled that Eyeo and its business practices were legal, delivering a major hit to Axel Springer’s years-long battle against ad blocking. Axel Springer argued that blocking ads is in violation of Germany’s competition law, while also arguing that AdBlock Plus’ whitelisting strategy was “legally dubious.”

+ Eyeo says 90 percent of the publishers on AdBlock Plus’ whitelist don’t pay for their spot, but the company does charge the largest publishers to be included, with pricing based on number of ad impressions (ZDNet)

+ “We believe the decision of the federal court is wrong … Programs like Adblock Plus endanger the quality and pluralism of information providers and thus hurt the general interest. This is a blow to the core of the free media landscape,” Axel Springer’s head of media law Claas-Hendrik Soehring said (Financial Times)

+ Noted: After focusing on scale, Hearst Magazine is cutting back on aggregation and “viral fluff” in favor of original reporting after finding that stories with “some unique piece of info or angle” were performing better (Digiday); Good Morning America is launching a morning newsletter, taking the “morning TV battle” digital (Variety); President Trump lashed out at NYT reporter Maggie Haberman, claiming that he doesn’t speak to her, despite granting her multiple interviews (Washington Post); Resolve Philly announces a new project with 19 newsrooms to cover poverty in the city (Generocity)


‘To attract young viewers, [local TV] stations are going digital-first, crowdsourcing reporting, experimenting with augmented reality, and injecting more personality into the news’ (Nieman Reports)
Like newspapers, local TV news stations are having to rethink the way they reach their readers, with many looking to over-the-top and AR/VR video. For example: When Rev. Billy Graham died, Raleigh’s WRAL-TV had extensive coverage of Graham’s life and legacy. In addition to its news stories, the channel produced a 30-minute special on Graham, which aired on TV, was live-streamed on its Facebook page and website, and available via its app. “We’re constantly experimenting with different content there and seeing what people want to watch,” Capitol Broadcasting’s (WRAL’s parent company) general manager of audience development Shelly Leslie says.

+  The European Journalism Centre released a preview of its upcoming Data Journalism Handbook, examining the importance of algorithmic accountability reporting (European Journalism Centre)


The Telegraph is creating an ‘authored analysis’ strategy for its email newsletters that’s not focused on clicks back to its website (
“Editorial newsletters we consider to be stand alone pieces of editorial content, either written or curated for an audience, full of authored analysis,” The Telegraph’s head of digital publishing Dan Silver tells Silver explains that this strategy is not centered around getting people to click back to The Telegraph’s website; rather, they’re more interested in how a reader remains engaged with the newsletter and The Telegraph after they finish reading. “One of the key benefits for us as publishers is that newsletters allow us to speak directly to our most engaged audience, which is really important in this age of variable algorithms and search engines and social platforms. Having that direct relationship with readers is really important,” Silver says.

+ James Harding, the former director of BBC News’ media startup, is trying to launch what he’s calling “a UK-based Axios,” and just hired a major Obama fundraiser as its chair (BuzzFeed News)


‘Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted’ (Strategy + Business)
Relying too much on metrics as your measurement of success or productivity can lead to what Catholic University professor Jerry Muller calls “metrics fixation.” In his new book “The Tyranny of Metrics,” Muller explains why we tend to rely on one or two metrics that are easy to measure even when we’re measuring complex outcomes, and how we strip meaning out of metrics by trying to standardize them. Muller argues that the result is “not only a distortion of information, but also a redirection of managerial effort.”


NYT Clinton campaign reporter Amy Chozick says she later felt like she became a ‘de facto instrument of Russian intelligence’ (New York Times)
“The Bernie Bros and Mr. Trump’s Twitter trolls had called me a donkey-faced whore and a Hillary shill, but nothing hurt worse than my own colleagues calling me a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence,” Amy Chozick writes on her coverage of John Podesta’s emails during the Clinton campaign. “The worst part was, they were right. … I’ve started to see the ‘they’ [Clinton] spoke about on election night differently. They were Facebook algorithms and data breaches. They were Fake News drummed up by Vladimir Putin’s digital army. They were shadowy hackers who stole her campaign chairman’s emails hoping to weaken our democracy with Mr. Podesta’s risotto recipe. And they were The Times and me and all the other journalists who covered those stolen emails.”


Pulitzer Prize winner Mariel Padilla found out she won while sitting in class at Columbia Journalism School (CJR)
Mariel Padilla is a master’s student at Columbia Journalism School — and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for reporting she did while she was an intern at The Cincinnati Enquirer. The Enquirer won a Pulitzer for its coverage of Cincinnati’s heroin crisis, which Padilla worked on during her internship. “I haven’t really been keeping up with nominations, so I didn’t even know it was nominated,” Padilla said. “CJR did a piece right after the story came out, so I knew then that people were saying it could win a Pulitzer, but people say that about lots of things.”

+ The latest installment of The Washington Post’s “How to be a Journalist” series examines how journalists cover shootings (Washington Post)

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