Need to Know: Jan. 13, 2020

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


You might have heard: Ghost papers and news deserts: Will America ever get its local news back? (The Washington Post)

But did you know: Plight of newspapers generates uncommon bipartisan unity (The New York Times)

As small local newspapers face economic hardships, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers blame Facebook and Google for the destruction of local news. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for instance, supports a bipartisan bill that would make news organizations exempt from antitrust laws, which could potentially clear the way for them to “band together” in negotiations with Google and Facebook. Other supporters of the bill include Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “For the politicians, the issue is personal,” writes Cecilia Kang. “They see news deserts in places where one or two local newspapers used to track their campaigns and official actions, keep local police departments and school boards accountable, and stitch together communities.”

+ Noted: CNN to pay record $76 million in settlement with National Labor Relations Board (The Wrap) G/O Media boss writes letter to Deadspin union expressing intent to relaunch site in Chicago (The Big Lead); Trump allies explore buyout of conservative channel seeking to compete with Fox News (The Wall Street Journal)


Get ‘just-in-time’ training to overcome specific challenges in your newsroom 

API will conduct a culture and skills assessment of your newsroom and suggest customized training options, including sending a “just-in-time” adviser to your newsroom to help you with specific challenges you’re facing. Find out more about our customized training options. 


How Bloomberg News is using messaging app Telegram (Digiday)

Bloomberg News started using WhatsApp in 2018 to reach a bigger international audience, but late last year, the Facebook-owned messaging app banned bulk messaging. At the time, Bloomberg had amassed 93,000 WhatsApp subscribers, some of whom received targeted messages on specific subjects. The news agency signed up for Telegram in December as an alternative, and now Bloomberg sends one or two daily mini newsletters to its 27,000 subscribers on that messaging app. Most publications don’t use Telegram, and the app has an issue with several fake or unofficial accounts for publications like The New York Times, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.


BBC facing huge bill for equal pay cases after Samira Ahmed verdict (The Guardian)

BBC host Samira Ahmed won a sex-discrimination lawsuit against the network, which paid her almost £700,000 less than Jeremy Vine, who hosts a similar BBC program. Both shows focused on audience comments and feedback, but Ahmed earned £440 per episode, compared with Vine’s £3,000. The judgment in the case concluded that BBC failed to prove that the difference in pay existed for reasons other than sex discrimination. Twenty additional cases alleging pay disparities at BBC are expected to go before an employment tribunal. 


Reddit bans impersonation content, including deepfakes (Digital Trends)

Last week, Reddit banned deepfakes in a policy update that also bars users from making false claims about their identities. Reddit rarely receives reports of impersonation, but noted that the forum “wanted to hedge against things that we haven’t seen much of to date, but could see in the future, such as malicious deepfakes of politicians, for example, or other, lower-tech forged or manipulated content that misleads.” Facebook also has banned deepfakes, and Twitter has drafted a policy that would address the videos.


‘When money is offered, we listen’: Foundation funding and nonprofit journalism (Columbia Journalism Review)

From 2009 to mid-2016, foundations donated $1.1 billion to journalism organizations, raising questions as to how these funders may influence reporting. Jacob Nelson and Patrick Ferrucci interviewed 40 nonprofit journalists and foundation employees and found that such funding “is often premised on editorial influence,” although not when it comes to covering specific topics. Their study, which appeared in Media and Communication, linked foundation funding to reporting methods that prioritized using technology and audience engagement. Aside from leading newsrooms to chase trends, journalists complained that this funding came with extra responsibilities unrelated to the work of journalism..

+ Earlier: API worked with nonprofits and funders to develop best practices for ensuring editorial independence

+ 13 former White House press secretaries, foreign service and military officials call for regular press briefings (CNN)


Teen Vogue editorial staff had no idea about that mysterious Facebook advertorial (Jezebel)

Last week, Teen Vogue received criticism for running sponsored content without marking it as such before deleting the Facebook-funded post, which framed the social media company as helping to “secure the integrity of the 2020 election.” Jezebel reported that Teen Vogue’s newsroom didn’t know about plans for the advertorial before its publication. This post appeared shortly after The New York Times reported that Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth wrote in a memo that the company’s advertising could help President Donald Trump win re-election.

+ How the media covers Hollywood: From hypocrisy to Harvey Weinstein (On Point)