Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: December 5, 2018

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heardDemocrats promised that if they won back the House, they would start regulating Silicon Valley, starting with an Internet Bill of Rights (The New York Times)

But did you know: New laws would stick up for publishers and help quality digital content ‘break through a sea of online garbage’ (Axios)

Tech platforms have littered the media universe with crap — stolen ideas, pirated video, plagiarized text, manipulated content, and fake news. And efforts to protect and elevate quality original content have faltered in the digital era. But a slew of new laws and market conditions are beginning to swing the pendulum the other way — albeit slightly — and return at least some power back to original content owners. In the news industry, one such effort is the proposed “link tax” in the European Union, a provision that would give publishers copyright over content that is shared online via platforms like YouTube or Facebook — and which Google is fighting against by threatening to shut down Google News in those countries. “Disputes over the value of good content — and the definition of good content — are becoming more prevalent and complicated in the digital era,” writes Sara Fischer. “Despite some shifting forces, market dynamics still make it difficult for good content to consistently thrive online.”

+ Noted: NPR CEO Jarl Mohn to step down after 5-year term ends in June (NPR); Thomson Reuters to cut 3,200 jobs in next two years (Reuters); Meet the 66 finalists in the AI and the News Open Challenge, who will explore solutions at the intersection of AI and news (AI Ethics Initiative); Fate of conservative magazine The Weekly Standard is uncertain, editor tells staff (CNN)

API UPDATE

How two traditional competitors are working together to grow audience (Better News)

The Bay Area News Group and McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee, two Northern California news organizations, have embarked on a co-reporting and content-sharing experiment to fill gaps in each other’s coverage. The Bee is running BANG’s sports reporting, and BANG is using the Bee’s political coverage. The two newsrooms are also working together on a project examining local housing issues. “No local American news organization is big enough to accomplish everything it hopes to do,” wrote Amy Chance and Lauren Gustus of The Sacramento Bee. “And few of us are directly competing with each other anymore. So we both hope every newsroom will take a look at what it does well, what others do well and what opportunities there are to share.” This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.

+ College journalism students: Apply now to be the American Press Institute Summer Fellow for 2019

TRY THIS AT HOME

A journalist’s guide to advertising tech (Tow Center for Digital Journalism)

The information we seek about our world is underpinned by, and shaped by, advertising and its needs. Journalists need to know more about these technologies, how they work, and how they influence the practice, distribution, and perception of journalism. A new guide from the Tow Center helps journalists navigate the ad tech landscape and provides valuable insights on how ad tech can undermine quality journalism and publisher revenue.

+ Related: Journalists are rightly suspicious of ad tech. They also depend on it. (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ A tiered approach to researching and pitching investigative stories for freelance writers (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

OFFSHORE

France and Germany propose digital advertising fees after tax on tech giants fails (VentureBeat)

A new proposal by French and German officials aims to impose a 3 percent tax on digital advertising in the EU, a move no doubt targeted at Facebook and Google. Those two companies control the lion’s share of the digital ad market, and the new tax would help level the playing field, argue French officials. The proposal comes after France’s failed effort to get European Union members to embrace a digital tax on large online platforms. Its new proposal takes a different tack: Rather than a tax on income, it would tax digital advertising sales.

OFFBEAT

Can you like the person you love to hate? (The New York Times)

Does social media, particularly Twitter, create “a sense of intense conflict where there might be intense conversation?” If a pair of sworn enemies had met at a dinner party instead of on social media, is there a chance they would have liked each other? Two women journalists, who had long antagonized each other on Twitter, decided to find out. After meeting in person, Vice reporter Eve Peyser and New York Times columnist Bari Weiss found common ground in their upbringings, their industry, and their views on internet outrage culture — and ended up going from enemies to friends. “This isn’t to say you should befriend raging bigots or violent abusers, but having an ideologically diverse group of friends helps you better understand your own convictions,” writes Eve Peyser.

+ Related: What newsrooms are doing to bridge divides in their communities (Center for Media Engagement)

UP FOR DEBATE

Why journalists need to talk about workplace burnout right now (LinkedIn)

According to a News Impact Network survey, more than 50 percent of journalists said they were “overwhelmed” by information during their working day and wanted to “explore solutions” to make it more manageable. Just 7 percent said they had the information flow “well under control.” Francois Nel, director of journalism leadership at the University of Central Lancashire, says this is a “massive issue” the industry has failed to address. “Employers haven’t provided [journalists] with the tools [to address workplace burnout]” he said. “Our content management systems are set up with an old paradigm. We have bolt-on solutions which take in this mass information. We bolt a Tweetdeck dashboard or a LinkedIn dashboard on.” Addressing information overload and employee burnout must come before any of the other issues the industry faces, writes John Crowley. “It will make our daily jobs easier and we will able to produce better journalism. It’s as simple as that. Then we can move on to other pressing challenges for our industry.”

SHAREABLE

It’s almost impossible to be a mom in television news (The Atlantic)

According to a report by the Women’s Media Center, television viewers are less likely to see women reporting the news today than just a few years ago. At the Big Three networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — combined, men were responsible for reporting 75 percent of the evening news broadcasts over three months in 2016, while women were responsible for reporting only 25 percent — a drop from 32 percent two years earlier. What is it about TV news that is making the so-called “motherhood penalty” more pervasive and punishing than in other industries? It could boil down to the fact that airtime is a marker of success — and that metric runs headfirst into the reality of motherhood.

+ George H.W. Bush’s nod to White House “photodogs” (AP); 3 leading news organizations serve as “learning labs” for Northwestern University’s Local News Initiative — their goal? Correlate reader behavior with what the researchers call “stickiness” — whether digital subscribers stick with the product (Northwestern Local News Initiative)

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