Need to Know: Dec. 11, 2019

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


You might have heard: Americans can’t stop relying on social media for their news (Quartz)

But did you know: News consumers rarely look for alternative views (Rand Corporation)

According to a new report from the Rand Corporation, 20 percent of Americans said they always or almost always seek out alternative viewpoints, but most people do so never, sometimes or infrequently. Although 44 percent of those surveyed believe news is just as reliable as it was in the past, 41 percent find it less reliable. How Americans feel about the reliability of news is connected to how they consume news. Researchers found that those who preferred online news, radio and social media were less likely to say that news is more reliable than it used to be. 

+ Noted: Verizon Media plans to lay off 150 people this week (CNN); Fox Nation host Britt McHenry is suing Fox over sexual harassment (Vanity Fair); Bloomberg Media acquires The Atlantic’s CityLab (Adweek); Berkeleyside is launching a sister site in Oakland to help fill the void left by pillaged newspapers (Nieman Lab)


Strategies for truth-telling in a time of misinformation and polarization (American Press Institute)

API’s latest report explains the skills and strategies journalists need to operate in an information ecosystem infused with falsehoods, to fend off attacks on their work as biased or “fake,” and to reach polarized audiences. This major report is derived from a review of recent scholarly research and interviews with experts and journalists in the field. In addition, API held a two-day summit this summer with journalists and people who study misinformation. The guide provides practical guidance on three main subjects: How journalists can understanding different types and purposes of misinformation, how to avoid amplifying misinformation and how to respond to Trump-like attacks on journalism


How training can improve local news and make it more inclusive (Knight Foundation)

In a media industry that has lost 7,700 jobs this year, remaining newsroom workers are expected to do more than in the past, from pursuing new business models to exploring new technology. MediaShift Executive Editor Mark Glaser writes that the business side is bleeding into editorial, as editors take on projects like developing sponsored content. One solution is training programs that focus on the business end of journalism, as well as leadership and innovation.

+ Related: P. Kim Bui, director of audience innovation for The Arizona Republic, offers tips on applying for leadership training programs for women (Twitter, @kimbui)

+ How Mother Jones is thriving through mission, strategy, and experimentation (Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy)


In Algeria, ‘electronic flies’ threaten a protest movement (Coda)

Algerian journalist Redouane Red Boussag was fired from Numidia TV in July for not siding with government authorities, and four months later, trolls were reporting his Facebook page in an attempt to shut it down. Leading up to Algeria’s presidential election this week, pro-regime accounts are flooding social networks, yet it has become commonplace for Facebook to deactivate pages belonging to activists and journalists. The pro-regime accounts, dubbed “electronic flies,” are a mix of genuine supporters, those paid to spread disinformation and propaganda-amplifying bots geared to minimize the opposition.

+ Staff of Newsquest, which owns Scottish papers like the Herald and the National, voted in support of strike action (The Guardian); Why did the Sun publish a far-right conspiracy theory? (The Guardian)


Think ‘Sheep’ before you share to avoid getting tricked by online misinformation (First Draft)

Disinformation relies on emotional responses and confirmation biases to spread as far as possible, and Alastair Reid writes that a proper mindset is key to avoiding being tricked into sharing false information on social media. First Draft developed an apt acronym, SHEEP, to remind readers to consider the source, history, evidence, emotion and pictures connected to information before sharing it. For instance, Reid asks us to examine whether or not the source uses overly emotional language that could signal an attempt to manipulate its audience.

+ After The Verge’s investigation of luggage retailer Away, Casey Newton and Zoe Schiffer dispute the notion that Slack is a neutral platform (The Verge)


Brady: Social media contributed to journalism’s trust gap (The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute)

Spirited Media CEO Jim Brady believes that a combination of social media, podcasts, talking heads on cable news networks and a reduced emphasis on editing have been “a disaster for journalism,” and “social media has been the tip of the spear.” He complains that Twitter is an echo chamber with a journalist-only audience, and the use of social networks has coincided with a decline in trust of the media. The speed of Twitter, he adds, makes it nearly impossible for journalists to follow aspects of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, such as verifying information before releasing it and providing context to a story without oversimplifying or summarizing it.


How Vice Media is working to grow its audio production with long-form podcasts and an exclusive deal with Spotify (Business Insider)

As other media outlets pursue daily news podcasts, Vice Media is developing documentary-style shows that take in-depth looks at national and international stories. About five years ago, Vice made a foray into podcasting that has expanded into a team of about 10 people, plus international reporting teams and freelancers that produce audio. Last year, Vice began a partnership with Spotify for a show on the drug war and former cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and now Vice has a deal to exclusively release three of its podcasts to the audio platform.