Need to Know: August 9, 2019

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


You might have heard: Facebook says it plans to put $300M into journalism projects (Columbia Journalism Review)

But did you know: Facebook offers news outlets millions of dollars a year to license content (Wall Street Journal)

After years of influencing the journalism industry, from misguided video initiatives to a series of algorithms that largely displaced news in users’ feeds, Facebook has cooked up another plan that could bring the nation’s largest publishers millions of dollars. Facebook plans to launch a news section this year, and the tech company is offering outlets like The Washington Post, Bloomberg and ABC News $3 million to license their content. That fee could include entire stories, headlines and article previews, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook plans to seek feedback from publishers on the news tab. But Nieman Lab’s Christine Schmidt notes that Facebook’s interest in journalists’ thoughts follows last year’s report that a Facebook executive told The Australian, “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.”

+ Noted: After 32 years, magazine Governing to close (Governing); After falsely claiming white supremacy is a hoax, Fox News host Tucker Carlson takes sudden vacation (New York Times and HuffPost); Judge greenlights libel suit against NPR over Seth Rich reports (Politico)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of Factually: Takeaways on misinformation from the recent mass shootings; the FBI identifies conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorism threat; and divisive content about race pushed by “bot-like activity” during Democratic debates.


How publishers are building habit with short-run newsletters (Twipe Digital Publishing)

As newsletters become an increasing element of newsrooms’ strategies to convert readers to paid subscribers or donors, some publications are finding success with limited-run, niche newsletters. The run length of this subgenre can be as short as a few days, like CNN’s newsletter on Hurricane Florence, or as long as a season, like The New York Times’ summer newsletter highlighting restaurants and events in the city. Some short-run newsletters are tied to a television show’s season arc or events, like South by Southwest. Because of their tendency to drill into specific topics, publications have found limited-run newsletters can help them reach targeted audiences outside their base group of readers.

+ By tapping a community’s knowledge, ‘Lunch & Listen’ events can make your journalism better (Current)


The Philippines was a test of Facebook’s new approach to countering disinformation. Things got worse. (BuzzFeed News)

Despite Facebook’s efforts to curb misinformation in the Philippines with a third-party fact-checking program and attempts to remove policy violators, a new study shows that the country faces increased trolling, fake accounts and eruptions of false information. According to the study, “disinformation producers are becoming more insidious and evasive,” as disinformation has embedded itself in the Philippines’ political campaigns. President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign, as well as his opposition, adapted to transparency rules and found ways to dodge fact-checkers, leading false information to become more widespread this year than during the country’s 2016 campaign.

+ Fact-checkers personally targeted by partisan attacks (Poynter)


You should think more about how you onboard your newest hires (Fast Company)

The orientation new hires receive can make the difference between them sticking around or increasing turnover. In light of research that shows a positive onboarding experience makes employees more likely to stay with a company for at least three years, Kimberly Fahey points out some practices to avoid. She recommends steering clear of unnecessary fanfare and stress-inducing lunches with the CEO or president, which can add to anxiety before your new hire is comfortable in her position. Fahey writes that it’s also important to ensure new employees receive the same instructions and information from their coworkers and supervisors to avoid mistakes and frustration.


The Washington Post doesn’t want to talk about the monster correction it published (The Washingtonian)

This week, The Washington Post published a 579-word scroll of a correction on a feature that examined black Americans’ struggles to maintain ownership of farmland that has been in their families for generations. The correction weighs in at one fifth of the word count of the article, which was written by freelancer Korsha Wilson and revised with reporting and corrections from staff writer Tim Carman. Andrew Beaujon raises questions regarding the Post’s editing process, concluding, “While the Post is happy to make its journalists available for coverage of things it does well (which is lots of things these days), it rations their availability when it screws up.”


In St. Louis, a ‘Mini J School’ makes public radio listeners advocates for real news (Current)

Inspired by a lecture series geared to help the public better understand the practice of medicine, St. Louis Public Radio launched a similar program on the ins and outs of journalism. About 100 of the station’s members and supporters enrolled in the Mini J School, which included six weekly sessions led by journalists around the region on topics ranging from libel law to food reporting. As trust in the media remains low, one goal of the series, which cost $120 to attend, was to increase transparency on how reporting works. “We can be advocates now,” attendee Stacey McMackin said. “We’re trying to build public awareness of the value right now, because journalism as a field, it’s under attack.”


+ Why The New York Times is covering newspaper closures as a national story (and how local outlets can collaborate): “One thing we think about is with these organizations closing down, where are the journalists of tomorrow getting their fundamental training?” New York Times national editor Marc Lacey said. “How many school boards are uncovered and how many city councils are uncovered? What does it mean for democracy, but also, what does it mean for the future of the entire media universe to have those places closing down?” (Nieman Lab)

+ ‘A time of great shift’: Journalists reflect on covering mass shootings and extremism (First Draft)

+ How the media helped R. Kelly: After years of taking a passive approach, the media is receiving criticism for its hands-off coverage of the musician’s abuse of minors (Columbia Journalism Review)