Need to Know: Feb. 5, 2020


You might have heard: British journalists walked out of a Monday briefing with an aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a show of solidarity with excluded news outlets ( 

But did you know: No such show of support came yesterday for CNN in pre-SOTU briefing (AP)

The White House excluded CNN from the traditional off-the-record briefing with media outlets ahead of the State of the Union address. While not the first time the Trump administration has sought to bar journalists it considers hostile to its agenda, in this case, “the stakes are low,” said Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota. Very little newsworthy information tends to be generated from the meeting, although many are arguing that this should have made it a good opportunity for other media outlets to protest on CNN’s behalf. “There’s value in solidarity and not allowing this or any other president to pick off journalists or news organizations one at a time,” said former CNN anchor Dan Rather.

+ Noted: Spotify is buying Bill Simmons’ The Ringer to boost its podcast business (Vox); A new tool could help journalists spot doctored photographs — even ones created using artificial intelligence (Twitter, @nytimes); News organizations ask U.S. Department of Labor to reconsider data-lockup changes (Bloomberg); Meet the first cohort of Poynter’s 2020 Leadership Academy for Women in Media — which includes API’s own audience engagement strategist, Shirley Qiu! (Poynter)


Trust Tip: How to create an effective ‘About Us’ page (Trusting News)

Given that news orgs are in the business of sharing information, it’s odd how few of us offer basic information about ourselves in easily accessible places. In this week’s edition of Trust Tips, Lynn Walsh explains how to do an audit of the existing information about your news org — the first step in creating a good “About Us” page for your website. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


How The Economist designs charts for Instagram (Medium, The Economist)

Visual data journalists at The Economist follow a set of guidelines for creating charts for Instagram. That includes basic things like keeping the colors and typeface consistent; but also following the “less is more” rule. That means winnowing down a story to one key takeaway that can be graphically represented, instead of crowding lots of data points into an image. They also try to make a point of letting people “find themselves” in the data — so allowing readers to see where their city or country lies in the data.

+ Earlier: How El País uses maps to “speak directly to readers about their own lives” (Medium, Mapbox)


As other U.S. publishers exit the Mexican market, Business Insider is moving in (Nieman Lab)

Seeing a market in “younger, upwardly mobile Mexicans,” Business Insider launched a new Mexico edition yesterday. It says it wants to tell stories about “better capitalism” and a “more inclusive economy,” taking a more human-interest angle rather than reporting hard news. BI Mexico will focus on “Mexico for Mexicans,” helping readers live a better quality of life, says Editor-in-Chief Verónica Galán. That already sets it apart from failed American media efforts in Mexico, including NYT en Español and BuzzFeed News Mexico, which former staffers say were told from a foreign point of view.


What product teams should know about working with newsrooms (OpenNews)

In the great rush to hire (or develop) product-focused people, communication between the product and editorial sides of a newsroom can sometimes break down. Product teams need to understand basic tenets of newsroom life, like irregular hours — so they don’t leave key people out when scheduling meetings — as well as learn about editorial workflows. “Ask if you can spend a few days shadowing and observing some editors,” suggest Brittany  Hite and Christopher Chung. “Watch them use your tools in different scenarios and at different times.” Doing so sheds light on what journalists and editors need, and ultimately helps product teams design better tools, internal and customer-facing.


IBM, Marriott and Mickey Mouse take on tech’s favorite law (New York Times)

A diverse and powerful alliance of lobbying groups — including the News Media Alliance, API’s affiliate — are seeking to limit the reach of Section 230, the law that makes it nearly impossible to sue platforms like Facebook or Google for the words, images and videos posted by their users. They see it as the “easiest lever to hurt tech companies” by constraining their power, said Daphne Keller, a former lawyer for Google.

+ The only safe election is a low-tech election (New York Times); Is the dam breaking at The Washington Post? (Vanity Fair)


Publishers are using a Starbucks Wi-Fi program to hunt for new readers (Digiday)

Last year Starbucks stopped selling print newspapers in its stores, instead pointing customers who access the WiFi to several newspaper websites, most of which have a paywall. While Starbucks isn’t paying those newspapers, several of them said they consider Starbucks customers as potential subscribers — they tend to be totally new readers, and they’re in a setting where they’re ready to consume information and possibly form a habit of going to a particular news source.

+ How Emily Ramshaw plans to build the most representative newsroom in America (Poynter)