Need to Know: February 22, 2019

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


You might have heardMany major newsrooms, champions of transparency in other cases, remain tight-lipped about their newsroom diversity (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Fewer women than men report the news, with the biggest gaps at Reuters and the AP (Nieman Lab)

While women outnumber men in journalism programs and in colleges, they represent just 41.7 percent of newsroom employees, according to the 2018 diversity survey by the American Society of News Editors (which received a record low number of responses — just 17 percent of the 1,700 newsrooms surveyed actually responded). A report released Thursday by the Women’s Media Center found that men continue to report and produce the majority of U.S. news, and the gap is particularly egregious at the news wires: 69 percent of AP and Reuters bylines go to men, “by far the biggest gender gap in news media.” At print newspapers, women hold 41 percent of bylines and men hold 59 percent, and it’s nearly the same for online news: 40 percent of bylines go to women, and 60 percent to men.

+ Noted: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer questions hedge fund president about proposed Gannett purchase (Washington Post); Twitter opens beta program to test new conversation features (Mashable); The University of Chicago Institute of Politics and the Nieman Foundation announce campaign journalism conference in April (Nieman News); Once hailed as unhackable, blockchains are now getting hacked (MIT Technology Review)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

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 Factually (formerly “The Week in Fact-Checking”): False images after Kashmir attack show how quickly fakes can spread; Google publishes comprehensive report on its attempts to tackle misinformation; and Wired reporter Zeynep Tufekci on how we can develop a verification system that ensures authenticity in an era where nearly every platform can be gamed.


Two ways Trusting News can help your newsroom (Medium, Trusting News)

The Trusting News project’s goal is to empower journalists to demonstrate credibility and actively earn trust. And they’re ready to do that with free one-on-one coaching for your newsroom. “Tell us what you want to accomplish and we’ll work to efficiently help you make that happen and earn trust along the way,” writes Joy Mayer. Not exactly sure what you want to accomplish? One thing Mayer and her team will start helping you with is addressing your critics in a constructive way, including drafting language that encourages your audience to really understand you, not just lump you in with “the media.” You should also think about specific areas that you’re investing in right now — an investigation, upcoming election, new beat, or a new vertical. Trusting News will help you infuse that work with trust-building strategies. Here’s more information — and a sign-up form — for the personalized help Trusting News is offering.

+ Using the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail marketing service, L.A.-based KPCC sent postcards to residents in predominantly black neighborhoods with high rates of infant mortality to raise awareness of its informational event on the topic (Medium, LAist/KPCC)


‘Like a punk rock band’: How The Intercept built a home for investigative journalism in Brazil (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

When journalist Glenn Greenwald decided to launch The Intercept Brasil in 2016, his clout as co-founder of the original U.S.-based The Intercept helped the project gain steam. But it really took off when investigative journalist Leandro Demori came in as executive editor a year ago. Under Demori’s stewardship, The Intercept Brasil has become a major player in investigative journalism, in a country where corruption frequently runs unchecked. The staff is composed of young, early-career journalists — something Demori says was intentional. “Our reporters don’t have a 20-year relationship with source A, B or C … So we don’t have this culture of polishing sources to the level of becoming uncomfortable [with displeasing them].” The staff also reflects the site’s readership: “…They don’t belong to an intellectual elite; they are from the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, for example. There are also a lot of people from the interior of Brazil, outside of big cities. These are people we always wanted to have as an audience. We have this goal of training journalism readers — open-minded young people, who aren’t attached to old dogmas.”


We now see 5,000 ads a day … and it’s getting worse (LinkedIn, Ryan Holmes)

Back in the ‘70s, the average consumer in the U.S. saw around 500 ads per day. That number has since increased to upward of 5,000 ads per day. And people aren’t happy about it: Ad-blocking software is more popular than ever, with 86 million users blocking $20 billion worth of ads each year in the U.S. alone. Tech companies’ ad-targeting and data-hoarding practices have raised so much public alarm that many are now the focus of government investigations. And research shows people are increasingly adept at simply tuning out ads. It raises a critical question: Does the future of digital advertising still rest in selling ads? It’s time to recognize that monetization on digital platforms “isn’t necessarily a black-and-white matter of ads or subscriptions,” writes Ryan Holmes. “Diversifying revenue streams — finding a hybrid of advertising, subscription and transaction-based revenue — may be the surest path to long time viability and financial success.”


Google says it’s fighting misinformation, but how hard? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Google recently published a white paper detailing the steps it is taking across its various divisions — YouTube, Google News and Google Search — to fight misinformation and disinformation. The company said it is working to surface better content, adding more “context” to search results (which includes notifying users that certain results have been fact-checked), and trying to crack down on trolls and hackers. These kinds of efforts are clearly worthwhile, given the kind of influence and reach Google products have, writes Mathew Ingram. Facebook continues to bear the brunt of public criticism, due to its high-profile role in spreading fake news, but Google’s search and recommendation algorithms arguably have more impact — it’s just not as visible or as obvious as Facebook’s, something the company has taken full advantage of when its counterparts or subsidiaries are facing scrutiny.


First signs of a subscription model for podcasts (Twipe Digital Publishing)

Some podcast publishers are now experimenting with offering subscriber-only, or early access, to podcasts. One of the challenges in attracting listeners to premium audio content lies in breaking habits they’ve formed around their podcast consumption — which seems to be a losing strategy. “We think people want to continue using their existing podcast players,” said David Stern, Slate’s vice president of product and business development. “Listeners develop strong habits around their podcast apps, and are unlikely to use a second or third app just to get access to bonus content or ad-free versions of one or two shows.” Last week Slate rolled out Supporting Cast, which will let podcasters give listeners their premium content in their preferred app. Currently available for Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Downcast, Pocket Casts, and Podcast Addict, Stern says this covers the majority of the market.

For the Weekend

+ Flipboard wants tighter abs, Pinterest wants good wine, and Linkedin wants to read about…shopping? Here are the kinds of content platform users seek (or avoid) (Nieman Lab)

+ The Dallas Morning News found a loyal audience when it started covering — wait for it — the weather. They aren’t trying to replace the weather news you can get from your phone or local meteorologists but add context and utility, writes Kristen Hare; including localizing a California wildfire story when a man and his daughter lost their home and still came to Dallas to see the Cowboys, comparing Texas cities with the coolest summers, and explaining why Texas pecans will cost so much this year. (Poynter)

+ “Whether you’re mindlessly grazing on Tinder or Bumble, OkCupid or, you’re now as likely to learn someone’s thoughts on the Oxford comma as you are their job title or their penchant for tacos.” (GQ)