Need to Know: August 14, 2018

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


You might have heard: Traffic from Google Search to publisher sites globally has risen by more than 25 percent, more than outpacing the decline in Facebook referrals over the same time period (Chartbeat)

But did you know: As Google shifts to mobile, its referrals to news sites keep growing (Poynter)

Since Google switched to mobile-first indexing on July 1, 2017, 71 percent of publishers have seen an increase in traffic that came through Google search, according to Chartbeat. Chartbeat found about a 5 percent total increase in traffic arriving at publishers’ websites via Google search. “Google search is now the majority driver of traffic to publishers’ websites on mobile devices,” said Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s chief of product, engineering and data. Google’s return to dominance is a reminder that news organizations must focus on search, writes Ren LaForme. “News publishers shouldn’t sleep on the increased traffic. Take advantage of Google’s growing mobile relevancy by making sure posts look good when they show up on a search, and combine tools like Google Trends and search engine optimization techniques to write headlines that attract audiences.”

+ Noted: The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind., lays off 7 of 8 remaining employees (; Center for Cooperative Media launches network for New Jersey student journalists, advisors, publishers and media organizations (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media); 7 pay studies from U.S. media unions finds that men and white people make significantly more than women and people of color (Asian American Journalists Association)


Quartz builds chatbots to fund its journalism and experiment with audience engagement (Digiday)

Although most chatbots deployed by publishers have been discontinued over the last two years, Quartz continues to rely on them. In 2016, it launched a mobile app in which people primarily access its articles through dialogue with a chatbot. Later that year, it formed a Bot Studio to build bots for itself and advertisers and with other news outlets. “The moneymaking part makes it worthwhile for Quartz, along with the insights it’s learned,” writes Tim Peterson. “The client work funds Quartz’s journalism and lets it experiment without having to report to a client.” Quartz has learned people may be more willing to use a publisher’s chatbot when it’s part of an event or contained experience, finding that people complete the experience more than 90 percent of the time. To that end, Quartz is developing a Facebook Messenger bot with ProPublica and others for the latest version of the Electionland project, which works to safeguard voter access.

+ A primer on Civil, the cryptocurrency that promises to revolutionize independent journalism (Columbia Journalism Review); “A super smart way to display translated articles” (Twitter, @millie)


Britain’s Daily Mail, a Brexit supporter, is about to get a new editor with a different view (The Guardian)

After 26 years at the Daily Mail, veteran editor Paul Dacre will be replaced by his colleague Geordie Greig at the beginning of September. “Greig’s instincts on Brexit are a million miles from Dacre’s and those two months will be nail-bitingly uncertain ones for any compulsive Brexiter,” writes Alan Rusbridger. “Respect him or detest him – and both camps are well-subscribed – there’s no denying that Dacre has exercised an enormous influence on British politics and public life in his years as editor.” As readers anticipate Greig’s arrival and what his leadership could mean for the ultra-Conservative paper, Dacre wrote in the Spectator in June, “Support for Brexit is in the DNA of both the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers. Any move to reverse this would be editorial and commercial suicide.”


It started as a one-man personal finance blog. Now it generates millions in revenue (Medium, Simon Owens)

The Penny Hoarder, which started out as a blog on personal finance, now has more than 12 million monthly readers, dozens of full-time staffers, and millions in annual revenue. One interesting facet of its business model is that it doesn’t focus on display advertising, writes Simon Owens. Managing editor John Schlander says the site relies in large part on a form of native advertising they call “performance marketing.” “This is where we will partner with select clients … to write content that we feel will best serve readers and help the client toward the client’s goals,” Schlander says.


Is PolitiFact biased? This content analysis says no (Poynter)

PolitiFact, a Poynter-owned fact-checking project, has often been accused of left-leaning bias. A recent report from the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University analyzed language that PolitiFact has published about Democrats and Republicans to see how the organization has framed speakers from both parties, and compared how PolitiFact frames issues to how the media at large does. The fact-checking project typically assigns more true ratings to Democrats and more false ratings to Republicans. However, when broken up further by the top subject tags on each article, PolitiFact’s coverage appears to be relatively balanced. Executive director Aaron Sharockman says the report “certainly reinforces how we try we to act and carry ourselves … But as a fact-checker who has scrutinized plenty of research, we also shouldn’t give this study more weight than it’s worth. This is one look at the language and words we use to write our fact checks.”

+ Dear Journalists: The war on what you do is escalating. You need to escalate your response  —  by working together. (Medium, Dan Gillmor)


Google tracks your movements, like it or not (Associated Press)

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used privacy settings that say they will prevent it from doing so. Google says that the ability to “pause” users’ Location History will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. “That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking,” reports Ryan Nakashima. The privacy issue affects some 2 billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.

+ A dramatic cover ad on the New York Post for the street wear company Supreme turned yesterday’s tabloid into an impossible to find commodity (The New York Times)