Need to Know: January 11, 2021

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


You might have heard: In response to President Donald Trump’s language during a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, Twitter suspended his account for 12 hours, and Facebook blocked his account for at least two weeks (Twitter and Facebook)

But did you know: Twitter permanently banned Trump’s account (The Verge)

On Friday, Twitter said in a statement that its ban of the president’s @realDonaldTrump account was “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Before the ban, Twitter had suspended Trump’s account for posting falsehoods regarding the election, and after the suspension ended, Trump posted two more tweets that the company determined were likely to incite violence. Before Twitter announced its decision, about 300 of the company’s employees had signed a petition calling for the ban.

+ Related: YouTube banned a channel ran by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (CNET); Some Facebook employees told The New York Times that its “indefinite” ban on Trump could also become permanent (The New York Times)

+ Noted: Bustle Digital Group is exploring a deal to go public and raise cash to potentially acquire more publications (Reuters); Voice of America employees protested an order to broadcast a speech from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling it propaganda (The Washington Post); Matt Thompson, who has served as editor in chief of Reveal, will lead The New York Times’ Headway, an investigative reporting initiative (The New York Times)


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Graham Media Group expands membership model for local TV news (Knight-Cronkite News Lab)

Graham’s push for membership starts by nudging digital and TV audiences to register for an account. Users provide their emails to participate in contests or subscribe to newsletters, giving Graham an opening to pitch memberships that include perks like access to newsroom personalities and events. In the past year, Graham station WDIV-TV in Detroit doubled its newsletter subscriptions to 780,000, and the network plans to add 10 more newsletters to its offerings.


UK watchdog to investigate Google’s plan to remove third-party cookies from its browsers (Press Gazette)

In 2019, Google and Facebook gobbled up 80% of the United Kingdom’s digital advertising market. Next year, Google plans to stop supporting third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, and although the move follows similar efforts from other browsers to increase users’ privacy, it also could gather more aspects of targeted advertising under Google’s control. The Competition and Markets Authority plans to examine if the change to Chrome would increase Google’s share of the digital ad market. Publishers and tech companies in the U.K. have expressed concerns that the change would lead to financial loss, especially at small outlets.


Why the Capitol attack is about more than misinformation (The Boston Globe)

Claire Wardle of First Draft writes that misinformation entails individual instances of false claims, but the events at the Capitol started with a bedrock of layers of falsehoods. After building enough false narratives based in misinformation, people create walled-off information ecosystems that aren’t linear or top-down. “They are networked, participatory, and completely separate from mainstream media,” Wardle writes. “Inside these alternative information ecosystems, entire belief systems, and alternative worldviews take root.”


When editors avoid covering white nationalism, they shield the public from the truth (Medium, Farai Chideya)

After the 2016 presidential election, Farai Chideya, host of the podcast and radio show Our Body Politic, wrote about the role of race in politics and how some journalists have omitted the influence of white nationalism from their election coverage. In an update to that post, Chideya said that while working for FiveThirtyEight, her pitches on white nationalism were rejected, and some of her stories were killed. On Twitter, she urged newsrooms to include the perspectives of Black women while shaping their coverage.

+ Margaret Sullivan writes that Fox News has given “a comfortable home” to conspiracy theories that radicalized Americans and made possible last week’s violence at the Capitol (The Washington Post)


Black media brands saw ad revenue rise during 2020 (Digiday)

With eyes on racial justice last year, some companies increased their advertising budgets for publishers serving Black audiences. In 2020, NBC’s BLK vertical had record traffic, reaching 60 million page views for the year and drawing more revenue from advertising. Blavity Inc., a digital publisher focused on communities of color, also grew last year, as some companies created or continued advertising strategies targeting Black audiences.