Need to Know: August 15, 2018
Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism
You might have heard: Alex Jones and Infowars content was removed from Apple, Facebook and YouTube (The New York Times)
But did you know: Twitter suspends Infowars host Alex Jones’ ability to tweet (CNET)
Finally following the lead of every other social media platform, Twitter cut off Alex Jones from key functions of his account on Tuesday after the founder and star of conspiracy site Infowars violated another Twitter policy. Jones’ account has been placed in a read-only mode for seven days, meaning he can still browse Twitter posts, but he can’t interact with other users by tweeting or retweeting or liking other posts. Jones is also required to delete the offending tweet, Twitter said, although it wasn’t immediately clear which tweet had been singled out. Several Silicon Valley giants — Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Apple, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vimeo and Spotify — have already banned the notorious conspiracy site from their platforms. The tech giants said they don’t tolerate hate speech and Jones’ Infowars violated their community standards and guidelines.
+ Noted: Former founders and employees of Breaking News launch Factal, a service that delivers verified breaking news alerts to businesses (BuzzFeed News); New York Magazine owner explores sale (The Wall Street Journal); Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 30 media organizations urge Florida court to dismiss a petition to hold the Sun-Sentinel in contempt for publishing information from a redacted report about the Parkland, Fla., school shooting (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press); Online News Association announces 2018 Online Journalism Awards finalists and James Foley Award recipient (Online News Association); Six years after his disappearance in Syria, White House says it’s actively working to bring journalist Austin Tice home (McClatchy); WordPress.com invests in RadioPublic (RadioPublic)
“It’s very much still early days on this front, but for some publishers, the tangible advertising opportunities provided by international listenership are beginning to make themselves loud and clear,” writes Nicholas Quah. Many of those publishers are closely watching how the recent introduction of Google Podcasts will affect non-American listening, given the product’s theoretical ability to open up greater volumes of podcast consumption on Android — which dominates the global smartphone market, particularly outside the United States.
+ Related: Our collection of resources to help you with podcasting (Better News)
+ 10 rules for reporting on war trauma survivors (Journalists Resource)
After a Toronto Sun reporter was struck by an activist at an anti-hate rally on Saturday, reactions of outrage and condemnation were relatively few. The fact that the reporter works for the unabashedly conservative Toronto Sun, and his attacker supposedly comes from the opposite end of the political spectrum, probably has something to do with it, writes Robyn Urback. “To many, this will be evidence of the ‘biased left-wing media’ only caring about their own. And there probably is some bias at play here. But part of the issue might also be that journalists tend to look for bigger-picture stories, ones that connect to issues and movements beyond a single encounter.” In this incident, the bigger-picture issue is more difficult to find, given that there hasn’t been the same degree of organized uprising on the far-left; but it shows the far-left tends to hate the media as much as the far-right, and assaults on journalists can come from all directions.
+ Related: Antifa protesters couldn’t find any fascists at Unite the Right — and harassed the press instead (The Washington Post); A new report takes stock of threats to journalists in India, in the age of intolerance and rising nationalism (Reuters Institute)
As tolerance for ads declines, publishers migrate to platforms that provide greater and more direct engagement with users but also take a larger slice of ad profits. “By far the greatest impetus for these shifting trends is the ad blocker, which may continue to disrupt the natural order of the industry — that is, until blockchain innovations finally begin to appear,” writes Jeremy Epstein. While blockchain solutions are still in the early stages, Epstein says some marketers are experimenting with using the technology to incentivize audiences to continue viewing ads. One solution is an internet browser that allows users to get paid in cryptocurrency in exchange for their permission to be shown ads. Another filters visible ads based on custom user profiles.
On Thursday more than 200 newspapers across the United States will publish editorials condemning President Trump’s attacks on the media. But Politico’s Jack Shafer argues that the response is sure to backfire: “It will provide Trump with the circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him.” Shafer also calls the effort an exercise in redundancy and “self-stroking,” as most newspapers have already published multiple editorials and columns rebuking the president for his trash-talking of the press. Another problem, he argues, is that the audience that is supposed to reap the greatest benefit from the haranguing — Trump and many of his supporters — tends not to read newspapers in the first place.
+ “No one would disagree … that racism must be covered. The question is how”: NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen addresses criticism of NPR’s interview with “Unite the Right 2” organizer Jason Kessler (NPR)
On Monday The Australian caused a stir in media circles when it published an article containing incendiary (and disputed) quotes from Facebook’s head of news partnerships Campbell Brown. “Mark [Zuckerberg] doesn’t care about publishers,” and news organizations that don’t work with Facebook will be a “dying business like in a hospice,” she was reported saying. But the most important thing she (allegedly) said received less attention, argues Joshua Benton: “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals any more. That is the old world and there is no going back.” Traffic and referrals were what Facebook had to offer publishers in the last several years, but in the last year Facebook has shown it’s “perfectly happy gutting the traffic it sends to publishers,” writes Benton. “And now Brown’s alleged quote would seem to make it clear that’s a permanent condition.”