Need to Know: December 14, 2018

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


You might have heardHow The Correspondent optimizes everything it does “not for clicks, likes, ads, or journalism prizes, but for trust” (Medium, Jay Rosen)

But did you know: The Correspondent hit its crowdfunding goal of $2.5 million thanks to 42,780 members from more than 130 countries (Medium, The Correspondent)

The Correspondent, an ad-free, member-funded collaborative journalism project that began in the Netherlands, just set a new world record for the number of backers in a journalism crowdfunding campaign. (The previous record  —  18,933  —  was set during the crowdfunding campaign of its Dutch counterpart, De Correspondent, in 2013.) With 34 hours to go, the platform hit its goal of $2.5 million, with a median pledge of $30. Now it plans to launch in mid-2019 with a brand-new editorial staff and website. The Correspondent will maintain its pay-what-you-can membership model, one of its 10 founding principles.

+ Noted: Tribune Publishing ends talks about selling company to McClatchy (Chicago Tribune); Donald Trump, wedding crasher, ends up being bad copyright news for (Hollywood Reporter); Hundreds of journalists jailed globally becomes the new normal (Committee to Protect Journalists); Apple’s “Netflix for Magazines” getting a chilly reception (Bloomberg); Facebook to cut funding for some news shows on Watch (The Information)

API Update

The week in fact-checking

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 “The Week in Fact-Checking” newsletter, what the Yellow Vests protests tell us about misinformation, a game that helps Czech teenagers tell fact from fiction online, and the first episode of (Mis)informed is live.


How to lead better brainstorms (Poynter)

Brainstorms can be magical — or they can be a complete bust. Rachel Schallom spoke with several journalists and seasoned managers to get their best advice for productive brainstorming. “I make it a point to invite both those who will execute the project (developers, graphic artists, journalists, producers) and those who will sign-off on it (editor, manager),” said CBC data journalist Valerie Ouellet. “That way, everyone is on the same page from the start and knows what is doable and what isn’t.” The Membership Puzzle Project’s Ariel Zirulnick likes to start a Google doc well before the brainstorming session, so people can start adding their ideas and thinking them over ahead of time. Consultant Katie Hawkins-Gaar uses a timer to keep the conversation tightly focused, and suggests holding the meeting in a new setting, not the same old conference room. “Last but not least, end your meeting with next steps!” she added. “There’s nothing worse than a super fruitful brainstorm session that ultimately leads nowhere.”


In France, school lessons ask: Which Twitter post should you trust? (The New York Times)

France saw the need for expanded media and internet literacy before many countries. In 2015, the deadly attack on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo exposed a deep distrust of the media and vulnerability to conspiracy theories online. Since then, the French government has increased funding for courses about the downsides of the online world. Now it is experimenting with a new method: bringing journalists into classrooms to teach students how to spot junk information online. More than 150 journalists have volunteered to teach, including many from Le Monde, France’s leading newspaper. They’ve collectively hosted about 500 workshops with students this year. “We realized that we had to go back to the fundamentals before even mentioning fake news and conspiracy theories: what’s news, who makes it, how do you check the sources,” said the project’s co-founder Sandra Laffont.

+ Earlier: UK charity The Student View brings journalists and underperforming pupils together to help teenagers understand news and develop their leadership potential (


Converting customers using psychology (HelpScout)

Small things make a big difference when it comes to copywriting. One study found that setting minimal parameters for customers is more effective at nudging them to buy or donate (for example, “Every penny helps” when asking for donations). Implying that a small action is a good start will make people more amenable to making a move, researchers wrote. When making a request for people to take action, clearly identify a minimum in order to help people break through “action paralysis.” (H/t to the Engaged Journalism Accelerator for highlighting this article in its biweekly newsletter, Engagement Explained.)


Newsrooms must learn how to use AI: ‘Trust in journalism is at stake’ (

Although the use of artificial intelligence for news is still rare — and still in the experimental phase — the technology has great potential for speeding up investigative work, verifying user-generated content and even spotting newsworthy items on social media. “Using this tool will help us call out misinformation much faster as well as make sure we’re disseminating more trustworthy, verified content,” said Lisa Gibbs, business editor for The Associated Press, which is pursuing an ambitious goal to create 40,000 stories using AI by the end of next year. “Newsrooms must act now to understand this new era of computing. Trust in journalism is at stake.”


Facebook fact checking in disarray as journalists push to cut ties (The Guardian)

Journalists working as fact checkers for Facebook have pushed to end a controversial media partnership with the social network, saying the company has ignored their concerns and failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation. Current and former fact checkers claim that Facebook has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impact of their work, and some have said that Facebook’s hiring of a PR firm that used an anti-semitic narrative to discredit critics — fueling the same kind of propaganda fact checkers regularly debunk — should be a deal-breaker. “They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” said Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a fact-checking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years. “They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck.”


+ It’s that time of year: Nieman Lab’s Predictions for Journalism 2019 are here. Settle in. (Nieman Lab)

+ 29 times nonprofit journalism made a difference in 2018 (BuzzFeed)

+ “The stories we wish we’d done this year”: Bloomberg makes its 2018 “jealousy list” (Bloomberg)