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Need to Know: Dec. 8, 2015

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


You might have heard: When some people on Twitter noticed that Circa’s domain was now registered to Sinclair Broadcast Group, some began speculating that Circa could return via local TV stations

But did you know: Sinclair Broadcast Group announced it officially acquired Circa, and the news site will be relaunched in the spring (Wall Street Journal)
Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of 172 TV stations, announced Monday that it acquired Circa for $800,000 in March and will relaunch the news site in the spring. The Washington Times’ John Solomon has been hired by Sinclair to lead the relaunch as chief creative officer. Solomon says he will hire 70 journalists to do original reporting for Circa, which will also have access to video feeds from Sinclair’s TV stations. The relaunched Circa’s approach will be focused around letting users make up their minds about stories, Solomon says, and will “feature the kind of irreverent tone that does well among young audiences on social media.”

+ Noted: The Huffington Post reports that the National Association of Black Journalists ran a $227,000 deficit this year and expects to end 2015 with an even deeper deficit, leading to three staff positions being cut, selling off of investments and considering selling its office in Maryland (Huffington Post), but NABJ president Sarah J. Glover says: “The story has inaccuracies and the headline is deceptive. NABJ is thriving and making moves” (Maynard Institute); The New York Times is partnering with Boston public radio station WBUR to adapt its Modern Love column as a podcast (Hollywood Reporter); First Look Media will model its video efforts on “Spotlight,” which it helped fund (Poynter)


How publishers are using Slack as a content tool in addition to a communication tool (Digiday)
“Slack the communications tool has for some publishers become Slack the publishing tool,” Ricardo Bilton writes. Some ways that publishers are using Slack for publishing content: The New York Times has live-blogged events through Slack, Breaking News lets news organizations submit story tips through Slack, and AJ Plus integrated Slack as an extension of its CMS through features such as video uploading and a bot that notifies editors when content is uploaded to AJ Plus’ content delivery network.

+ Earlier: Storyful has a Slack integration that allows Storyful’s partners to receive breaking news notifications and how news organizations are integrating Slack into their workflow


Pakistani security officials attempt to damper reporting on background of San Bernardino shooter (Reuters)
Security forces in Pakistan are attempting to stop reporting on the background of San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik. Professors at the university Malik attended say they were advised not to talk to the media, and one professor said a security official had visited the university and removed records and pictures of Malik. People claiming to be from Pakistani security agencies also reportedly told reporters to drop their investigations into Malik’s background or risk being arrested.


Why gamification is still a gamble, but one with potentially big payoffs (Knowledge@Wharton)
At a recent Wharton conference, experts from firms including Fidelity and Accenture gathered to discuss how they’re using gamification to motivate employees and clients, and the results they’re seeing. The consensus from the conference is that gamification is still a gamble, but many companies are seeing big payoffs: With a gamification system to increase sales rep engagement, PeopleLinx has seen monthly users increasing eightfold over a 60-day period.


Style rule changes from the AP, New York Times, Washington Post begin to accommodate gender-neutral options (Columbia Journalism Review)
A few big changes announced in the last few weeks accommodate gender-neutral language: The Washington Post will allow “they” and “their” as singular pronouns, The New York Times used “Mx.” as a gender-neutral honorific, and the AP added a new entry to the stylebook on the use of “cross-dresser” instead of “transvestite.” Merrill Perlman writes that these changes represent changes in our language to become more sensitive and socially conscious when dealing with these issues, but writers and publications will still need to make decisions on a case-by-case basis on what terms to use and when. Perlman’s advice: “Never assume what pronoun someone wants. Just ask — though avoid the ones audiences might not be familiar with, like ‘zhe.’”


Arianna Huffington: The Huffington Post will no longer cover Trump as entertainment (Huffington Post)
Donald Trump will no longer be relegated to The Huffington Post’s entertainment section, Arianna Huffington announced Monday. Huffington noted Trump’s impact on other candidates, but says HuffPo still believes Trump’s campaign is not a “serious and good faith effort to present ideas on how best to govern the country.” Huffington also says HuffPo will not cover Trump’s campaign like a normal campaign: “We’ll not only be covering the ways Trump’s campaign is unique in recent American politics, but also the disastrous impact it continues to have on his fellow candidates — and the national conversation.”

+ Meanwhile, Grasswire announced on Monday night that it will not cover “incendiary political rhetoric”: “In the American political circuit, there is no shortage of colorful, entertaining characters who embody both perplexing and entertaining positions, including opinions on how they’d like to ‘make America great again.’ But hateful political rhetoric  —  including suggestions that a group of people should be negatively targeted for special treatment because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation — is not entertaining. It is dangerous.” (Medium)

+ Snapchat Discover is “starting to feel like ‘The Hunger Games’”: Discover is up to 17 publishers from the 11 it launched with, and publishers are increasingly having to compete for app users’ time and attention, but deep linking may help alleviate some of the crowding and competition (Re/code)


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