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Need to Know: April 27, 2018

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


You might have heard: Matt Lauer was fired in November after the company received a complaint about his alleged sexual misconduct, with NBC Chairman Andy Lack saying at the time that he had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident”

But did you know: NBC News faces skepticism that it can reform in-house sexual harassment amid more accusations against Matt Lauer and new accusations against Tom Brokaw (The Washington Post)

During her last year on the “Today” show, in 2012, Lauer’s co-host Ann Curry said she approached two members of NBC’s management team after an NBC female staffer told her she was “sexually harassed physically” by Lauer. “I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” Curry said. Curry in an interview said there was “pervasive verbal sexual harassment at NBC.” Additionally, Linda Vester, a former NBC correspondent, and another woman told The Washington Post that legendary anchor Tom Brokaw made unwanted advances toward them in the 1990s. NBC acted quickly to dismiss Lauer, but it is facing a wave of internal and outside skepticism that it can reform a workplace in which powerful men such as Lauer were known to pursue sexual relationships with more junior women.

+ Noted: Southern California’s two large public TV stations, KCET in Los Angeles and Orange County’s KOCE, are merging (LA Times); The New York Times names company veteran Roland Caputo as CFO (Reuters); Gothamist officially relaunches today after acquisition by WNYC (Gothamist); Plan B and Annapurna Pictures have acquired the rights to produce a film about how the NYT, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Weinstein story (Deadline); CIR announces Reveal Local Labs, a Knight Foundation-funded initiative aimed at fostering local news collaborations and investigative reporting in four cities (Knight Foundation)


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 the problem with WeChat, research suggests fact-checking is unlikely to be effective unless fact-checkers know what their audiences do and don’t understands, and how Van Morrison fights fake news.


Three questions for local news teams to ask before starting that membership program (Poynter)

Berkeleyside launched in 2009 and now has 1,200 members. Members can give money annually or once a year at any amount they choose. And people can be involved in ways that don’t require cash. Nine years after launching, the site is getting ready to make an even bigger investment in membership thanks to raising $1 million in a direct public offering. And guess how they found out about DPOs? A member suggested it at an annual member party. “It was thanks to him, I guess, that we just raised a million dollars,” said Tracey Taylor, co-founder and managing editor. Here are what questions Taylor thinks journalists and newsrooms should ask before launching membership programs: Have you established yourself with your community yet? Are you really ready to commit to a membership program? What will you charge, and what will you offer?


Metrics that matter: A look into what works for Deutsche Welle (Global Editors Network)

“Working in media organisations is kind of like playing Where’s Waldo,” said Esra Dogramaci, Senior Editor, Digital at DW, during her session ‘How to build digital strategy’ at the International Journalism Festival. According to Dogramaci, the media landscape is so crowded that news orgs find it hard to distinguish themselves. They look at their competitors and copy them, meaning everyone suddenly pivots to video, VR, and Facebook live all at once. A big part of the solution is coming to grips with analytics. This means understanding the numbers to understand the audience, leading to more informed decisions about the kind of content that’s produced, and in turn, driving engagement. Dogramaci suggests paying more attention to dwell time and retention rates, not over-producing, growing your female audience, and more.

+ Lawmakers in the U.K. did not hold back their criticism in front of Facebook’s CTO (Bloomberg)


How do you develop a strategic framework for creativity in business? (Inc.)

A creative organization is ready to handle the innovation challenges of greenfield markets; to re-imagine the challenges of shrinking market share, and to re-align the misalignment of challenges introduced by running fast and loose, according to Jon Kolko, founder of Austin Center for Design. But bringing creativity into your company feels like adding to the mess, not fixing it. There are skills that can be learned and institutionalized that add clarity to the chaos of creativity. Here are two: First, critique aggressively. Then, as a leader, give your team all of the leeway in the world — remove all the rules, and emphasize that they have control.


The case for ‘Fox & Friends’ (The Washington Post)

Not bad, “Fox & Friends”: Prod Trump here and there, but mostly sit back and let him make news — which he will do, in large part because he doesn’t appear to recognize the lines between proper constitutional behavior and malfeasance, writes Erik Wemple. Check out some transcripts of New York Times interviews, and you’ll see that Maggie Haberman deploys this tactic as a clutch to engage the president. “We are not drawing equivalency, of course, between “Fox & Friends” and the New York Times,” writes Wemple. “The former are buddies with the president, though on Thursday they showed flashes of journalistic potential; the latter has broken story after story about the inner workings of the White House. We are merely saying that in a time of broken norms, the norm of sitting opposite the president with a stack of ‘hard-nosed questions’ is also broken.”

+ A farewell to free journalism (The Washington Post)


College newspapers across US are campaigning to secure their future (Associated Press)

Over the last few weeks, a Save Student Newsrooms movement has emerged from the college journalists who are being most affected by declining ad revenue and downsized staff. Through social media campaigns, awareness events and editorials, more than 100 newsrooms across the U.S. used their platforms Wednesday to show why it’s important they remain viable and independent. “I want more people to think about how integral college publications and local publications are to keeping everything in check and being a watchdog as a whole,” said Jemima McEvoy, editor-in-chief of Washington Square News at New York University. “Because if they were gone, I think people would definitely notice.”

For the Weekend

+ AT&T raised idea of settling DOJ antitrust suit in March, but talks stalled after it became clear DOJ wanted full divestiture of Turner, which owns CNN (Vanity Fair)

+ How the New York Times reported its Pulitzer Prize-winning story, according to the reporters who did it (Recode)

+ After years of chasing Facebook traffic, Mic goes for ‘deliberate distribution’ (Digiday)

+ Trump TV is live — and more on-message than the president (BuzzFeed)

+ Finding a place for Glamour Magazine in 2018: As new editor-in-chief Samantha Barry reveals her first print issue — and radical redesign — she discusses her plans to renew the brand’s relevance in a digitally driven media landscape (Business of Fashion)

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