Need to Know: Feb. 6, 2020


You might have heard: Google’s built-in ad blocker, launched in 2018, targets ads that don’t conform to the Better Ads Standards (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Chrome’s ad blocker will target three more types of annoying video ads (9to5Google)

Yesterday Google announced another crackdown on ads that people find to be annoying and intrusive. Beginning in August, Chrome’s ad blocker will apply to long, non-skippable pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads, and some image or text ads that appear on top of a playing video. This follows similar restrictions in 2018 that targeted pop-up ads, prestitial countdowns, auto-playing video, and large sticky ads across desktop and mobile. Google says that preventing such ads have caused ad-blocking to drop significantly in Europe and North America.

+ Noted: Hearken and the Solutions Journalism Network are offering grants for newsrooms that want to take a “citizens agenda” approach to their election coverage (Twitter, @azirulnick); Protocol — think Politico, but for tech — launches into a crowded space (Nieman Lab); The New York Times tops 5 million subscriptions as ads decline (New York Times), decides to raise monthly subscription prices for the first time (CNN)


How can photojournalists build trust through their work? 7 good questions with T.J. Thomson

We are surrounded by visual information, but how much do we know about how and why these images are made? API asked Dr. T.J. Thomson, a visual communications and media scholar at Queensland University of Technology, how news organizations and visual journalists can build trust by increasing the context and transparency of images.

+ API is hiring a contract-based Community Manager for the 2020 elections. This person will manage a network of local news leaders and connect them to experts in election-related disinformation, as well as help them navigate other election reporting challenges. Apply immediately if you are interested.


Here’s what you need to know before moving to a new CMS (Poynter)

Every aspect of a news org’s business — editorial, marketing, subscriptions, video, etc. — operates within the functional limits of a CMS. That means your CMS can also limit innovation. When considering making the move to a new CMS, first think about how your newsroom can improve its workflow and how the CMS can help you do that, said Scot Gillespie, general manager of The Washington Post’s Arc. Then consider how the CMS will provide a better customer experience. Will it cut down on page-load time? Will your site look more attractive? Finally, consider how it might help create revenue opportunities.

+ “Dear Publishers, your CMS sucks” — here are five CMSs to consider switching to (Twitter, @pilhofer), and a Knight Foundation grant to help you pay for it (Knight Foundation)


The subtle muckrakers of the coronavirus epidemic (New York Times)

Outside commentary on China tends to paint the Chinese Community Party as exercising near-complete control over the country. But as the coronavirus spreads, high-quality independent and citizen journalism has occasionally risen above the government narrative, writes Maria Repnikova. From hard-hitting investigations into how local authorities sought to cover up or downplay the virus’s reach, to moving human-interest pieces, Chinese journalists have managed to break through the government’s control over information. One reason for this is the fragmented nature of Chinese censorship — censors only have control over their own provinces, which means “extraterritorial” reporting is a common feature of Chinese journalism. Another is the rise of social media, which has allowed citizens to document and distribute information faster than authorities can take it down.


Almost half of Americans have stopped talking politics with someone (Pew Research Center)

The bitterly partisan nature of our political discourse (on fresh display Tuesday night at the State of the Union) is leading more Americans to turn away from political conversations. According to a Pew survey, 45% of Americans say they’ve cut off political discussions with someone because of something they said. Those who are more engaged with political news are more likely to disengage with someone, the survey also found — although participants who said they prefer local TV news are the least likely to have stopped talking about political news with someone.


Corporate giants are coming for your local news. Here’s how we fight back. (Poynter)

It’s not too late to reverse the dangerous trend of media consolidation, which has left many American cities and towns without any local news source. We can vote for politicians who propose regulating media mergers and breaking up the largest media conglomerates — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang have all suggested “ideas worth taking seriously,” writes Joseph Shieber. We can also use our dollars to support independent media outlets around the country. “We as citizens will pay for it either way,” writes Shieber. “Either we pay now for thriving, rigorously sourced journalism, or we’ll pay with dysfunctional government and a debased civic discourse.”

+ Related: Alden Global Capital, the “hedge-fund vampire that bleeds newspapers dry, now has the Chicago Tribune by the throat” (Vanity Fair); More reporters, editors leave The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press in latest buyouts offered by Tribune — in which Alden has a 32% stake (The Virginian-Pilot)


Weathercasters are talking about climate change — and how we can solve it (Mother Jones)

In recent years there’s been a seismic shift on climate change within the weather reporting community, writes Maddie Stone. From avoiding any mention of the politically-polarizing topic, meteorologists and weathercasters have now begun tackling climate change on air — framing stories in ways that are immediately relevant and solutions-oriented for local audiences. The shift is due largely to Climate Matters, a resource that helps reporters localize climate stories for their communities, writes Stone.