Need to Know: August 7, 2018

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


You might have heard: New York Times editorial board member Sarah Jeong faces furor over old tweets (USA Today)

But did you know: Following a string of controversies like Jeong’s, journalists are deciding to delete their old tweets (Poynter)

Deleting old tweets might be a job-saver as the pro-Trump internet targets journalists and celebrities such as James Gunn, Trevor Noah and Patton Oswalt, writes David Beard. Journalists are turning to new tools like TweetDelete to erase their Twitter history from the internet without having to withdraw from the platform entirely (although many have done that). Though still a useful news-gathering tool, Twitter has turned into a “gotcha machine for partisan mobs,” said journalist Joel Mathis. Mathis says the hunt for ill-thought tweets could capture journalists whose earlier workplaces may have encouraged a sassier style than that of the more mainstream publications to which these journalists gravitated.

+ Noted: Google News Initiative launches teaching modules for journalism schools (Medium, Google News Initiative); Getty Images is using artificial intelligence to help newsrooms choose better photos (AdWeek); oTranscribe is joining MuckRock and DocumentCloud (MuckRock); Poynter’s Indira Lakshmanan joins Pulitzer Center as executive editor (Pulitzer Center); Scripps Howard Foundation announces $6 million investment to create two centers of investigative journalism at Arizona State University and the University of Maryland (Arizona State University)


Economist app is designed to make readers feel less overwhelmed (Digital Content Next)

To reach readers who are trying to digest a lot of information while on the go, the Economist app Morning Espresso offers a daily roundup of stories hand-picked by editors. It’s “where we use the power of our editorial curation to help users get that broad view of the world that they come to the Economist for,” says Richard Holden, deputy head of product at the Economist. “When we talked to our readers, they told us they trust us to curate, and this is what they are paying for when they commit to a subscription…Moving forward, we’re not going to just add more content and make it complicated. It’s not about adding new tabs to make it tough to read. We keep it simple and surface relevant content that helps them get value out of their subscription.”

+ A guide to colors in data visualization (Datawrapper); Journalists reporting from Nicaragua share how to prepare for unexpected conflict (International Journalists’ Network)  


Brazilian fact-checking collaborative gets an assist from WhatsApp (Nieman Lab)

Comprova, a fact-checking organization made up of 24 Brazilian newsrooms, launched Monday with the purpose of monitoring mis- and disinformation in the run up to the country’s October elections. Like other fact-checking groups in Latin America, the partner newsrooms will collect tips, respond to rumors, publish stories, and sometimes report collectively. But the newsrooms in Comprova will benefit from access to the just-launched WhatsApp Business API, which will allow them to respond to reader submissions (and refute misinformation) at significantly greater scale, reports Shan Wang. The platform allows the public to submit questions and tips, and facilitates the detection of trends in misinformation reported around the country. Researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School will later investigate how misinformation circulates on WhatsApp.


What to do after you’ve been laid off (Ladders)

Being laid off is something many of us inevitably go through, but it can be hard to discuss with potential employers, let alone your worried friends and family, writes Monica Torres. Advice from readers who have been laid off covers a range of scenarios, good to bad, but surfaces common threads: Stay professional, and let your emotions subside before doing anything rash but when looking for a new job, “strike while the iron is hot, and people are sympathetic to your plight.” Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed to negotiate, and reach out to your network. “You never know who has a good contact, who has admired your work from afar … There’s absolutely no shame in what you’re going through, so post (kindly) about your situation, let people know you’re looking.”


Warren Buffett doesn’t know how to revive newspapers (Bloomberg)

Warren Buffett hasn’t found the right formula to fix his chain of local media companies. In June, he brought in newspaper company Lee Enterprises to help manage it for an annual base fee of $5 million, an arrangement that appears to be unique in the news business. “That Buffett has gone from avidly buying media properties to seeking a business partner for them may not seem so surprising, given the industry’s troubles,” write Katherine Chiglinksy, Gerry Smith and Natasha Rausch. “But it’s left some current and former employees puzzled. In recent years, billionaires have snatched up prestigious but ailing papers — see Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post or Patrick Soon-Shiong, new owner of the Los Angeles Times. Why is the world’s third-richest man not willing to pour more money into his papers?”

+ Journalists are playing into Trump’s hand by making themselves targets (The Washington Post)


She won an award and then quit out of frustration (Medium, Tracie Powell)

A journalist in a Midwestern community that is home to more than 110,000 African immigrants won a top state prize for her reporting on poor treatment options for sickle cell anemia — an illness that is common among people of African descent. A week later, she quit, acknowledging that she was tired of having to convince her editors of the news value of that story and others. Meanwhile, the story has caught the attention of lawmakers, and one state senator has announced his intention to address sickle cell anemia disparities. “If newsrooms continue to lose journalists like this, if they don’t learn how to listen and value voices different from their own, then they will never get the audiences they say they need to survive,” writes Powell. “This reporter’s news organization should get to know [this audience] intimately, cultivating relationships that will allow them to not only create new revenue-producing products, but will also improve news coverage and enable them to reach audiences they’ve never reached in the past.”

+ Related: Connecting with niche audiences is critical to the financial sustainability of local news (Medium, Tracie Powell); Earlier: Our report on how journalists can better cover neglected communities

+ Gerry Lenfest’s lasting legacy: Saving local journalism (The Inquirer)