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Need to Know: July 12, 2018

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Facebook plans to roll out a news section on its original video platform Watch (Axios)

But did you know: Facebook Watch will debut fully-funded news shows July 16 (The Wrap)

Facebook is set to launch its slate of fully-funded news shows next week, with several programs debuting on July 16, the company announced on Wednesday. CNN and Anderson Cooper’s “Full Circle” were part of Facebook’s initial rollout last month, which also included news shows from several outlets: Fox News, Univision, ABC News, Advance Local, ATTN: and Mic. Facebook has added new programs from Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News, NowThis, McClatchy, and TEGNA to its lineup as well. Facebook’s news initiative will be highlighted in its own tab in Facebook Watch, the platform’s original video section which launched last year. The shows, despite being paid for by Facebook, will have “full editorial control,” according to Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships. Estimates of Facebook’s annual budgets for each show range between $1 and $5 million.

+ Noted: Today Twitter will begin stripping tens of millions of questionable accounts from users’ followers (New York Times); Two weeks after deadly attack at Capital Gazette, Congress observes moment of silence for victims (Capital Gazette); YouTube will now notify some creators when their videos are stolen (The Verge); Sinclair to launch a streaming TV service that could compete with Fox News (BuzzFeed); ICFJ announces new TruthBuzz Fellows and partner newsrooms, including McClatchy and PolitiFact, which will experiment with “ways to make facts go viral” (ICFJ)

TRY THIS AT HOME

TEGNA asks viewers: What do you want to know about the news? (Poynter)

In 2016 the broadcasting company launched Verify, a fact-checking initiative driven by viewers’ questions about the news and their daily lives. Having expanded to all 46 TEGNA stations, Verify is also used during breaking news to address rumors and tell viewers what they’re working to confirm. “The whole purpose is to connect with viewers and say, ‘what are the questions, claims or rumors going around that you’re curious about?’” said Jason Puckett, a national Verify reporter. “Send them to us and we’ll dig in and let you know what’s real, what’s not real.” Online newsrooms have adapted similar approaches, many with Hearken, a platform built to help newsrooms listen to their audiences’ story ideas and questions. “We’re not coming up with story ideas,” said Puckett, “we’re pulling them from people and showing who we got them from.”

+ Related: Creating an ethical framework for engaging your audience; or, “Don’t be an Askhole” (Medium)

OFFSHORE

The Financial Times mixes journalism with performance to engage wider audiences (Journalism.co.uk)

The Financial Times has been experimenting with telling its stories through theater performance, aiming to see if creative, live approach to storytelling can engage audiences in new ways. Through the Contemporary Narratives Lab, an ongoing research project which explores the future of storytelling, the publisher teamed up with People’s Palace Projects, an independent arts charity at Queen Mary University of London, and performance space Battersea Arts Centre, to hold work-in-progress performances of its stories on stage. However, as a cross-border organisation with an international readership, The Financial Times is now wondering how this live storytelling format can practically work in the long haul.

+ At least 70 Syrian journalists trapped in southwestern Syria (Committee to Protect Journalists); China issues strict rules around media coverage of trade war with U.S. (Reuters)

OFFBEAT

A ‘cancer cure’ video skewered bad science — and went viral itself (Wired)

Health information is another topic online with a wealth of problems of mis- and disinformation. Brian Barrett describes how an academic-made parody of a fake “cancer cure” video — created to make a point about viral, inaccurate health videos — went viral itself, by following similar formatting and styling. The project did not sit well with everyone, however, and the creator does not plan another at present. Said one critic: “This approach is insensitive, tone deaf, and unnecessary to make your point about people needing to be more critical.”

UP FOR DEBATE

The New York Times’s souring relationship with Facebook (Digiday)

New York Times CEO Mark Thompson has become increasingly vocal in his criticism of Facebook and its impact on publishers, withdrawing the paper from Facebook’s recent initiatives to improve its relationship with the media, including Instant Articles, subscriptions tests and the soon-to-launch, fully-funded news video section. The Times has said these initiatives weren’t right for it for business reasons. Meanwhile, Thompson’s outspokenness has won him appreciation from some quarters and skepticism from others, writes Lucia Moses. Some believe he’s giving voice to news publishers that are frustrated with Facebook. Others see the Times as opportunistic and question whether his criticism will have any impact without a critical mass of others speaking out, too.

SHAREABLE

A quest for journalistic innovation finds traditional dogmas are being left behind (Nieman Lab)

Two Danish researchers visited 54 of what they deemed as “the most interesting and innovative outlets in the international media landscape today,” and identified ways in which they are pushing their journalism in a more engaging, cooperative and community-oriented direction. They found that many of those outlets are shifting from “neutrality to identity,” “omnibus to niche,” and “speaking to listening,” in an overall effort to set aside carefully neutral reporting and find innovative means of connecting with (and advocating for) their communities.

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