Need to Know: Jan. 17, 2020


You might have heard: New Jersey passes a bill to create a government fund for local news (Free Press)

But did you know: The Civic Information Consortium officially receives funding (Free Press)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is releasing $1 million out of the $2 million in funds earmarked for the Civic Information Consortium, a groundbreaking initiative to strengthen local news across the state. The consortium, made up of public and private stakeholders, will oversee a state fund for media projects; particularly those that seek to boost civic engagement and address the information needs of underserved communities.

+ Earlier: How Free Press convinced New Jersey to allocate $2 million for rehabilitating local news (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: Nieman Foundation announces the 2020 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellows (Nieman Foundation); ONA announces cohort for the 2020 Women’s Leadership Accelerator (ONA); New Hampshire legislators consider bill requiring news outlets to update crime stories (Concord Monitor); Fearing layoffs by new Gannett, South Bend Tribune staff moves to unionize (Indiana Public Media)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Stories from Iran are keeping fact-checkers busy; Google searches for “fact-checking” rose 500% during the Democratic presidential debates; and Harvard’s Kennedy School launches a scholarly journal on misinformation. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


This effort wants to standardize how we categorize visual misinformation (Nieman Lab)

MediaReview, a tool currently being built by Bill Adair and Joel Luther of the Duke Reporters’ Lab, would define the structure of a visual fact-check, with fields for the identification of the object in question as well as a taxonomy of potential ratings, including “Authentic,” “MissingContext,” “Cropped,” “Transformed,” “Edited,” or “ImageMacro.” After the tool is applied to the image itself, fact-checkers can use another standards tool, called ClaimReview, to evaluate any factual claims made in the image or video. The two-step approach would allow data from fact-checks to be encoded and gathered in a common database.


Telegraph pulls out of ABC circulation audit to focus on subscriber-first strategy (Press Gazette)

The Telegraph Media Group says circulation is “no longer a key metric,” and instead of participating in the ABC newspaper circulation audit, it will begin publishing monthly subscriber numbers. Its circulation had declined by 12% since December 2018, the last audit showed. Telegraph is now pursuing a target of 10 million registered users and 1 million paying subscribers by 2023. Last month the number of paying digital subscribers surpassed the number in print for the first time in the Telegraph’s 164-year history.

+ Singapore’s misinformation law was challenged in court for the first time (New Straits Times)


Why the impeachment trial won’t change minds (Vox)

Regardless of how the trial proceeds, “it seems likely that a majority of voters will remain confused and unsure about the details of Trump’s transgressions,” writes Sean Illing. “No single version of the truth will be accepted.” The reason, he says, is the sheer overload of information people face in their daily lives; some of it accurate, some of it bogus, and much of it intentionally misleading. Oversaturating people with information, to the point where they can’t agree on a common set of facts, is a deliberate propaganda strategy. The strategy was distilled almost perfectly by Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News and chief strategist for Donald Trump. “The Democrats don’t matter,” Bannon reportedly said in 2018. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”


What do we want? Unbiased reporting! When do we want it? During protests! (The Conversation)

Not all protest movements get equally legitimizing coverage by the press. According to Indiana University professor Danielle Kilgo, journalists “pay little attention to protests that aren’t dramatic or unconventional.” Analyzing 777 articles published by U.S. news organizations, Kilgo and her colleagues found that reporting on protests tends to focus on spectacle more than substance, and trivializes certain protest movements more than others. Implicit bias, which may stem from the well-known lack of diversity in news organizations, could play a role in the uneven coverage, says Kilgo.


TikTok wants to help publishers make money off its platform (Digiday)

In 2019 TikTok established a content team that works closely with hundreds of publishers to help them grow their followings; soon that team will help publishers make money from the platform by enabling them to place branded content on it. TikTok is also reportedly exploring the development of a brand-safe curated content feed in an attempt to attract more top-tier advertisers; it would function similarly to Snapchat’s Discover tab, which features editorial content and regular programming from publishers. One advantage to TikTok, writes Deanna Ting, is that developing content for the platform doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive; and it’s a good way for publishers to breathe new life into evergreen content.


+ Six ways the media influence elections (University of Oregon)

+ “It’s quite an upheaval”: In an ongoing makeover of the Times Opinion babel, the old editorial voice of god is being rationed (Vanity Fair)

+ Business Insider grew in 12 years to a monster digital enterprise. Now CEO Henry Blodget has plotted a new wave of expansion. (Poynter)