Need to Know: August 6, 2018

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


You might have heard: InfoWars creator Alex Jones is being sued for defamation after spreading conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook massacre (The New York Times)

But did you know: Apple removes InfoWars and Alex Jones’ podcasts from iTunes, the largest crackdown on conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date (BuzzFeed)

Following similar crackdowns from Facebook, YouTube and Spotify, Apple confirmed Sunday evening that it is removing podcasts by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from iTunes, on the basis that the content violates Apple’s hate speech policy. “Though Apple is far from Jones and Infowars’ only distribution platform, the decision to pull Jones’ content will considerably limit the outlet’s audio reach,” report John Paczkowski and Charlie Warzel. While Apple’s move was celebrated by activists who had clamored for the removal of Jones’ content, the sweeping nature of the crackdown is likely to rekindle an ongoing political and cultural battle over the role that tech platforms have in moderating misinformation, propaganda, and hate speech.

+ Noted: Media philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest died Sunday morning (; Commerce Department cuts newsprint tariffs (The Wall Street Journal); Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will provide emergency legal support to reporters covering “Unite the Right” protests (RFCP)


API offers lessons and resources for journalism educators at AEJMC 2018

API’s team will be meeting with journalism educators from around the country this week at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in Washington, D.C. We encourage any professors, researchers or students who are attending to check out our sessions and say hello. We also think that one of the resources provided by API would be particularly helpful to educators who are planning their fall syllabi — Better News is a continually updated resource that curates best practices in media and publishing, featuring new case studies from newsrooms across the country.

+ Citing our recent study that showed Americans don’t understand many terms and concepts used in journalism, the Missoulian newspaper explained to its readers what an editorial is (Missoulian)


With ‘Your Feed,’ The New York Times lets iOS users follow topics and journalists (Nieman Lab)

In user research, The New York Times found that “following” topics and specific journalists was a top request. So it built “Your Feed,” a major new feature that the Times rolled out to all iOS app users last week. Entirely curated by editors, Your Feed is designed to help readers discover articles they may otherwise have missed. It also contains exclusive, tweet-length content from Times newsroom staffers and columnists, pulled directly from the Times’ Slack channel by a bot. Your Feed isn’t updated 24/7, and that’s by design. Norel Hassan, the Times’s lead product manager, said users frequently reported feeling overwhelmed by constant updates, and wanted a tool that would help them navigate the nonstop news cycle.

+ Publishers participating in Facebook’s local news subscriptions accelerator share their results (Facebook)


The Financial Times creates audience mapping tool to boost repeat ad sales (Digiday)

The Financial Times is hoping to boost repeat advertising business with a new audience mapping tool that makes it easier for its advertisers to reach audiences across print, online and the FT app, reports Lucinda Southern. The tool calculates reach by platform, region, audience and frequency, and the incremental reach of each new channel. At the planning stage, it shows how often the target audience will see the ad. “We saw a need in the market which played to what we stand for: transparency around editorial and commercial,” said Laura Milsted, the FT’s global advertising director.

+ If Google bows to China’s censorship, it will put tech giant on a slippery slope (Columbia Journalism Review)


Is compassion fatigue inevitable in an age of 24-hour news? (The Guardian)

“The news is still horrifying, at home and around the world; I know this intellectually, but the physical feeling of horror is gone,” writes Elisa Gabbert. The clinical name for that feeling of numbness is “compassion fatigue,” and it’s generally applied to people who are frequently exposed to trauma, such as emergency medical personnel. But it can and has been applied to the general population, especially when audiences are saturated with pleas for attention. “That distance is better, I suppose, than feeling hopelessly enraged,” Gabbert writes. “But what is my responsibility? How much am I supposed to know about global suffering, and what can I really do with that knowledge?”


The local news crisis is destroying common ground (The Washington Post)

A Pew Research Center study last week showed that employment at American newspapers has declined by a shocking 45 percent. “One problem with losing local coverage is that we never know what we don’t know,” writes Margaret Sullivan. “Corruption can flourish, taxes can rise, public officials can indulge their worst impulses. And there’s another result that gets less attention: In our terribly divided nation, we need the local newspaper to give us common information — an agreed-upon set of facts to argue about.” Those who get their news entirely from Facebook and cable news are deep in their own echo chambers, and can’t seem to hear anything else, Sullivan argues; while readers and watchers of local news still seem to approach an argument from a shared set of facts.

+ “We made a mistake and we apologize”: After journalist outcry, Newseum removes the “fake news” T-shirts it had been selling in the museum’s gift shop and online store (Poynter)


How podcasts are changing journalism (Los Angeles Times)

As journalism in America struggles with withering cuts, decreased attention spans and wavering trust in media, podcasts are finding new audiences with their mix of news, commentary and personal stories. But can this increasingly popular form of storytelling truly be defined as journalism? “Even as they draw from journalism standards and training, podcasters seem to embrace the idea that their tone, style and motivations go beyond traditional techniques, defining their craft in nonjournalistic terms such as intimacy and connection,” writes Janet Saidi. This form of storytelling goes beyond breaking news, building in context and narrative to get at the “deeper meaning” of a story.

+ Our full set of curated resources about how to do podcasting (Better News)