Need to Know: April 26, 2019

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


You might have heard: Our 2017 study found that most U.S. newsrooms were unprepared to deal with misinformation

But did you know: A new study shows that journalists still need help covering misinformation, including reaching consensus on how (or if) to cover it (Poynter)

In a new study conducted by the California think tank Institute for the Future, researchers found more than 80 percent of journalists admitted to falling for false information online. The data was based on a survey of 1,018 journalists at regional and national publications in the United States. Perhaps more concerning, only 14.9 percent of journalists surveyed said they had been trained on how to best report on misinformation. Among the reasons that journalists said they were concerned about misinformation included the thinning of reporting staffs at their organizations and the high potential for them to be attacked by malicious actors on social media, who regularly try to get the media to cover stories that amplify bogus or racist narratives. Journalists also said they disagreed on how to cover misinformation, with more than half saying that it could be harmful to report on it at all.

+ Noted: Gannett just launched its own image licensing and wire service (Poynter); IRE is accepting applications for its Ottaway Fellowship for journalists of color (Investigative Reporters & Editors); Twitter says ad payments to publishers are up 60 percent (Digiday); State Department criticizes Myanmar for ruling on imprisoned journalists (The Hill); L’affaire Luminary continues with more podcasts dropping out and allegations of technical bad behavior (Nieman Lab)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of Factually (formerly “The Week in Fact-Checking”): can social media shut downs work, Twitter is encouraging users to flag misinformation in the E.U. and Indian elections, and how an army of bots amplified false claims that the Mueller report was a media hoax.

+ API is now offering online demos of Metrics for News, our news analytics software that helps newsrooms focus on the metrics that matter most to their success. Sign up for one of our recurring demos every Tuesday at 1 pm CST or every Thursday at either 10 am CST or 3 pm CST.


McClatchy launches story-level feature to boost journalistic transparency (News Co/Lab)

McClatchy, which owns 30 local newsrooms across the U.S., has recently deployed what it calls a “background card,” a tool in its content management system that makes it easy for journalists to add transparency elements to any story. Journalists can enter brief “behind the story” details as they see fit — such as how they reported the story, why certain sources are unnamed, or certain journalistic terms that may be confusing to readers — and the information will appear in a standalone box that is displayed where it makes the most sense in an online article. McClatchy is also using the background cards as another means of engaging readers, such as by asking them to share their concerns or questions about the story, or what they would want from ongoing coverage. “We are analyzing a lot of metrics for how these cards are being used and plan to evolve and grow the tool based on that feedback and other research,” said Ryan Tuck, McClatchy’s product manager for news strategy. “There is much more to come!”

+ Earlier: How journalists can change the way they build stories to create organic news fluency


After journalist’s murder, efforts to combat SLAPP in Europe (Columbia Journalism Review)

Journalists across Europe are organizing to fight libel lawsuits known as SLAPPs — Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation — which are designed to intimidate journalists or news outlets into removing critical coverage or into self-censoring reports by repeatedly taking them to court in order to exhaust their time and resources. While Anti-SLAPP legislation exists in much of the world, including in 28 U.S. states, it does not exist in the E.U., where judges are often unfamiliar with the phenomenon of SLAPPs and lack understanding that libel suits are being used by plaintiffs in this way. The movement began picking up steam after the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, whose reporting had exposed multiple instances of corruption in the Maltese government. At the time of her death, Caruana Galizia was facing 42 SLAPPs. “The last year of her life was basically horrible,” said her son Matthew. “She was in court almost every single day.”


How tech trends are shaping nonprofit giving in 2019 (Medium, Give Lively)

Newsrooms may want to take a cue from nonprofits that have been using certain tech trends, including digital wallets and customer text messaging, to their advantage this year. At the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Portland, Ore., nonprofit leaders described how digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Paypal are making donating easier for individuals; and how they’re using SMS to engage communities, mobilize supporters, trigger emergency response activities and complete donations. Many of them also described their increasing reliance on peer-to-peer giving, which continues to gain traction as people are increasingly connected online and increasingly open to the concept of crowdfunding.  


Free expression advocates balk at new global effort to stop social media from spreading terrorism (NPR)

After recent attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka killed hundreds of religious worshippers, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron are spearheading a global effort to reduce what they say is social media’s role in promoting terrorism. “This isn’t about freedom of expression; this is about preventing violent extremism and terrorism online,” Ardern told reporters at a news conference in Auckland on Wednesday, describing how the attacks at a local mosque were livestreamed on Facebook. While Ardern says their efforts will uphold the principles of a free internet, free expression advocates are worried about the implications of such a response. “There is this tendency after large-scale, national security crises and terrorist attacks to overreact to the problem,” said Adrian Shahbaz, research director for the D.C.-based watchdog Freedom House. “The fear we have is that we’re sort of sleepwalking towards a future in which all social media posts are filtered prior to being posted.”


‘Local news in America is dying. Charity might save it.’ (Bloomberg)

As for-profit newsrooms have shrunk, nonprofit news is on the rise, especially as donors and newsroom leaders begin to realize that in-depth reporting on beats like education, the environment or local government may never be profitable. Even for-profit newsrooms are beginning to run themselves like nonprofits, hustling for donations and getting more adept at emphasizing the public-service aspect of their journalism. But the nonprofit model has its challenges, as most Americans aren’t aware that local news is in crisis, and many journalists coming from traditional newsrooms are new to the concept of fundraising. “It’s difficult for journalists who spend their careers following the money to go, hat in hand, and say, ‘I’m a reporter. I’d like you to give me money,”’ said John Adams, founder of the nonprofit Montana Free Press. “It was something I wasn’t accustomed to.”


+ “Once, The Daily Argus had fact-checkers, copy editors, legal advisers. Those people are gone now, and in their place there’s the Farm: a virtual machine populated with copies of a few trillion different bots” — An eerily realistic-sounding science fiction story by Charlie Jane Andrews about a reporter whose work is managed by an army of bots (Wired)

+ In the 90s, John F. Kennedy Jr. founded and edited a revolutionary magazine called George, which covered politics like it was pop culture. Was it folly — or a glimpse of the Trumpian future? (Esquire)

+ Are you what you watch? A study from the Norman Lear Center from USC Annenberg on the entertainment and media preferences of “blues” and “reds” in the U.S. found that our ideologies can affect how we like to be told stories. (Media Impact Project)