Need to Know: Jan. 15, 2020


You might have heard: As Apple stakes out an aggressive pro-privacy stance, Google occupies middle ground (Digiday)

But did you know: Now Google says it will kill off third-party cookies within two years, making the web ‘private by default’ (CNET)

The move will impact the entire online ad ecosystem, which uses cookies to target potential customers. “Google’s announcement effectively puts websites on notice,” writes Stephen Shankland. “The most-used browser is going to start changing the way the web works, so you’d better prepare.” Google’s announcement reflects an overall shift among browser makers toward prioritizing users’ data privacy.

+ A study by Google last year showed that removing third-party cookies would reduce publisher ad revenue by 52% (AdExchange)

+ Noted: Digiday research shows that 78% of publishers offer paid maternity leave (Digiday); 2019 was a record year for digital growth at The New York Times Co., in which it passed its goal of $800 million in annual digital revenue (New York Times Co.); States Newsroom, a nonprofit that supports state capital-based, independent newsrooms, will expand to at least 20 new states (Axios); Trump administration plans to restrict the news media’s ability to prepare advance stories on market-moving economic data (Bloomberg); Impeachment trial security crackdown will limit Capitol press access (Roll Call)


Trust Tip: Equip journalists to respond to attacks on their credibility (Trusting News)

Everyone working in a newsroom should know how to respond to criticism, fair or otherwise, writes Lynn Walsh, assistant director of Trusting News. This week’s edition of Trust Tips offers ideas on how to host a conversation in your newsroom about the types of attacks your journalists are experiencing, and how they can respond. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.

+ Earlier: Our report looks at strategies for reporting in an age of misinformation and polarization


How to diversify your newsroom, starting now (Open News)

“We need top leaders in newsrooms to not just take diversity seriously, but to embrace it fully and make it a priority,” writes Emma Carew Grovum. “This work is not a matter of simply checking a box, but of shifting cultures to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.” Culture change is complex and can take a long time, but there are some things leaders in newsrooms can do now to kick off that process, she says, like posting jobs with affinity groups like the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association; as well as paying for annual memberships to those groups and sending journalists to their annual conventions.


How El País tells stories with data (Medium, Mapbox)

Over the past year, El País, a Spanish-language daily newspaper headquartered in Madrid, has built a data journalism team from the ground up. Storytelling through interactive maps is a central component of its work. “Including a map can be a way to speak directly to our readers about their own lives,” says Daniele Grasso, a founding member of this team, explaining how readers can use the maps to see how the information in a story applies to them personally. El País’s “street by street” voting map, for example, was one of the most-read pieces of content of the year for digital edition, reaching 1.5 million page views.


The Atlantic recommits to short fiction in an effort to reclaim attention in the internet age (The Atlantic)

The Atlantic, once a major force in shaping American literature, has announced that it plans to publish short fiction stories “with far greater frequency than we’ve managed in the past decade,” writes Executive Editor Adrienne LaFrance. “At a time when every available surface is saturated in information, it sometimes seems as though facts are absorbed osmotically, even accidentally, just by moving through space and time … Literary reading — of fiction and of poetry, the kind of reading that commands moral and emotional reflection — is far too easily set aside.”

+ Earlier: How newsrooms are using fiction as a tool to help readers make sense of complex issues in the news (Columbia Journalism Review)


Shining light into the dark spaces of chat apps (Columbia Journalism Review)

By 2022, 3 billion people will be using chat apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger on a regular basis. These platforms are notoriously flooded with misinformation; yet few news organizations have an established presence on them, writes Sharon Moshavi — in fact, many that had dipped their toes into the waters have now pulled back. That’s because these platforms, attempting to tackle their misinformation problem, are making it more difficult to widely distribute content. Still, there are opportunities for journalists to establish smaller communities on chat apps, where they can directly engage with audiences, says Moshavi.


Acknowledging a media failure, Washington Post reporters set their sights on Trump’s business secrets (Press Watch)

In an article published Tuesday, Washington Post reporters David A. Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow and Jonathan O’Connell listed five questions that they intend to investigate in the coming months, with the goal of determining how President Trump’s business interests have influenced his presidency. Publishing those five questions encourages readers to hold them accountable, says Joy Mayer, director of Trusting News. “There’s a huge benefit to pulling back the curtain and offering a window into your agenda-setting conversations. Doing so shows your audience that you are asking big questions. It helps them connect the dots between individual chapters in much larger stories. It shows them what they can look forward to, making them feel more connected to the coverage long-term.”

+ Meet the Iowa reporter in the middle of the 2020 action and one of the moderators of last night’s Democratic presidential debate (New York Times)