Need to Know: Dec. 18, 2019

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


You might have heard: Facebook’s ad tools subsidize partisanship, research shows (The Washington Post)

But did you know: How images impact clicks among both liberals and conservatives (Center for Media Engagement)

A new study from the Center for Media Engagement and ProPublica examines how newsrooms can assemble headlines and images that appeal to both liberals and conservatives. The study identified four articles that appealed more to conservatives than liberals, then crafted headlines to appeal to different political audiences. The team found that Facebook ads with photographs performed better than those with illustrated graphics among both liberals and conservatives. However, changing the headlines to attract both groups caused clicks to go down among liberals and conservatives alike.

+ Noted: Freelance journalists file suit alleging contractor law is unconstitutional (Los Angeles Times); Facebook is adding part-time fact-checking contractors (Axios); ’60 Minutes’ producer sues CBS for gender discrimination, retaliation (Hollywood Reporter)


How the press and the public can find common purpose (American Press Institute)

This new report looks at how Americans view the press’s role in holding power to account and the public’s own agency to question leaders and improve their communities. The survey, conducted in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, found a majority of Americans value the public’s right to question authority figures, but just 1 in 3 have high confidence in their own ability to challenge leaders.


How to solve podcasting’s biggest challenges (Current)

The audience and advertising opportunities for podcasts continues to grow, but this expansion also requires innovation. Advertising has grown tremendously in the podcast industry during the last six years, but Eric Nuzum points to the need for diversified revenue sources. Alternatives include public radio-tested measures like membership and underwriting, which is similar to advertising but doesn’t encourage listeners to buy a product. He also urges podcasters to pursue outside-the-box storytelling and nurture relationships with their audience.


A groundbreaking Indonesian project to counter false information (IFEX)

After Indonesia’s 2017 election for Jakarta’s governor led to crisis-level amounts of misinformation, many regional media outlets created fact-checking units. Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists, the Association of Indonesian Cyber Media and fact-checking organization Mafindo went on to develop a collaborative fact-checking platform called CekFakta. More than 20 media organizations joined the project, which also included participants outside the journalism industry. The collaboration “spread the insight that only by engaging all relevant parties and stakeholders can we effectively tackle the mis/disinformation problem,” Wahyu Dhyatmika writes.


Here are five ways deepfake-busting technology could backfire (MIT Technology Review)

Technology companies and the United States government are vying to create tools that could combat deepfakes, manipulated videos that show images and audio that never occurred. One approach is controlled capture, which involves marking images and videos with geotags or time stamps upon creation, outlining a trail that could enable the public to better decipher if the media was manipulated. New research from Witness Media Lab suggests these tools could have unintended consequences, such as being used for surveillance or leaving behind people with old hardware that doesn’t support this method.

+ Related: Facebook is funding a Reuters newsroom course on deepfakes, which includes a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as an example of what to look out for. Facebook received criticism this year for leaving the video on its platform. (Axios)


San Jose mayor’s office excludes online-only news organizations from daily story rundown (San José Spotlight)

About a year ago, the San José Spotlight launched as the city’s first nonprofit news organization, but editor Ramona Giwargis writes that San Jose City Hall continues to omit stories from the publication in a daily email sharing relevant news stories with local government officials. When the publication asked why it was excluded from the list, a spokesperson for the city said that the email runs under a policy to not distribute clips from local online-only publications. Giwargis calls the policy outdated and discriminatory, adding, “This is about ensuring San Jose policy leaders and decisionmakers have access to important information they need to better do their jobs.”


The human toll of the 2019 media apocalypse (Gen, Medium)

According to a Columbia Journalism Review tally, 3,385 journalists lost their jobs to layoffs this year, whether they worked at digital publications like BuzzFfeed or traditional papers like the Times-Picayune, which laid off its entire staff when it sold in May. In a piece examining the human impact behind the numbers, Maya Kosoff writes that “the tale of 2019 is that nobody was spared.” Sarah Kelly, who served as editor for the Washington Post Express until its demise in September, has been laid off five times in six years. “The Express layoff destroyed my already strained ability to trust the ground beneath my feet,” she said. “I have no reason to trust anyone in management at even the most reputable outlets.”