Need to Know: August 16, 2018

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


You might have heard: Americans believe two-thirds of news on social media is misinformation (Poynter)

But did you know: Americans want fake news to be banned from the internet (Knight Foundation)

The majority of Americans don’t think platforms like Google and Facebook are doing enough to stop the spread of viral misinformation. In a new survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, 92 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents and 73 percent of Republicans said misinformation should be removed from internet platforms. But none of the major tech companies — including Facebook and Google — have a policy that allows for the removal of information simply because it’s false. The survey also found that 79 percent of Americans think internet companies should be regulated in the way traditional media is — which could mean making platforms liable for content their users post.

+ Today, about 350 newspapers across the United States will publish editorials supporting the free press and decrying President Trump’s attacks against the media (CNN); “Yes, there are some famous big-city newspapers on this list of those planning to run #FreedomOfThePress editorials,” writes Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. “But more impressive and meaningful, in a way, are the many modest sheets from small towns in the American heartland.” (Twitter, @Jeff_Jacoby)

+ Noted: Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey says to address misinformation he is considering promoting alternative viewpoints and labeling bots (Washington Post); Public radio networks PRI and PRX to merge in big bet on podcasts (The Wall Street Journal); Financial Times boss returns pay rise after staff backlash (The Guardian); Scripps reaches deal to sell the last of its radio stations (Biz Journals)


Finding funding for your engagement project (Medium, Emily Poole)

You have a great idea for a new way to engage your audience, but your organization’s tight budget means that, without a little outside funding help, it’ll stay just that — an idea. Gather’s Emily Poole presents several guidelines for securing funds for an engagement project (as well as a list of funding opportunities): First, timing and alignment is everything — do your research and know which proposals will appeal to potential funders. Get to know each funding organization individually and cater your applications accordingly, rather than going for a one-size-fits-all approach. Consider non-journalistic funding organizations, and don’t neglect regional funding organizations and fellowships. Their smaller scope can actually make them a better fit for your project.

+ Don’t be afraid to tell your readers your journalism is valuable (Medium, Jennifer Hefty); How The New York Times reported beyond documents and official statements to glean a child’s-eye view of life inside migrant detention centers (Nieman Storyboard)


70+ European news organizations that will inspire your community engagement work (Medium, Madalina Ciobanu)

“News organizations that are doing engaged journalism in Europe tend to be smaller and they are not always the ones we get to read about,” writes Madalina Ciobanu. “The way they innovate rarely translates into pioneering the newest tools or technologies. Instead, their innovation is often about creatively adapting ‘traditional’ resources, such as texting and events, in order to serve the information needs of their communities.” At the Engaged Journalism Centre, Ciobanu and her colleagues just published a new database that aims to connect these news organizations. The database currently holds more than 70 organizations from 26 countries, all of whom are putting community engagement  —  geographical or topical  —  at the center of one or more of the following: ownership, reporting, distribution, impact and revenue.

+ Facebook is losing the war on hate speech in Myanmar (Reuters)


How bosses waste their employees’ time (The Wall Street Journal)

Managers often “give orders without realizing how much work those directives entail,” writes Robert Sutton. “They make offhand comments and don’t consider that their employees may interpret them as commands. And they solicit opinions without realizing that people will bend over backward to tell them what they want to hear — rather than the whole truth, warts and all.” Sutton and his Stanford University colleague Huggy Rao examined what managers can do to avoid these mistakes: Recognize and accept when the time has come to delegate tasks; encourage candor and criticism from employees (and be skeptical if you’re hearing nothing but sunny feedback); and reconsider how you define “star employees.” The best leaders, writes Sutton, value employees who remove destructive friction and waste.


SEO is back. Thank god. (New York Magazine)

This week Facebook made it abundantly clear that it is no longer concerned with sending traffic to publishers’ websites. But Brian Feldman argues that the resulting shift to focus once more on SEO is a good thing: “Social content was about manipulating people into clicking, sharing, and posting. SEO is about manipulating robots into treating your content as the best example of sought-after information.” Though it’s also open to more nefarious types of manipulation, SEO fulfills a “direct reader request with dispassionate information instead of hyperbole,” Feldman writes. “The mechanics of SEO are clear, far more than the mechanics of human emotions. For better or worse, SEO forced publishers to focus on providing their readers with relevant information. Social optimization for platforms like Facebook forced publishers to make their content evocative, incendiary, and interactive.”

+ The media does not accurately portray the most common story of opioid addiction, resulting in “policies focused relentlessly on cutting prescriptions” (Columbia Journalism Review)


Why The Washington Post’s Twitter has been so good lately (Washingtonian)

Talk to Washington Post reporters and you’ll hear one theme repeat: You can always tell a Ric Sanchez tweet. Sanchez, the Post’s 25-year-old social media producer, says he usually limits himself to one wacky tweet a week. But those tweets have helped bring about an evolution in how the Post expresses itself to the nearly 13 million people who follow it on Twitter. Mark Smith, the Post’s deputy audience editor, says the Post‘s “culture of experimentation” is an important factor in the Twitter account’s popularity: “We try to not say no to things.” The unusual tweets “can cut through what most people understand as the institutional voice of the Washington Post,” Sanchez says.

+ Meet The Times’s “mini detective agency” (The New York Times); Why 95.8% of female newscasters have the same hair (InStyle)