Need to Know: July 26, 2018

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


You might have heard: Facing a hostile White House, reporters show signs of solidarity (The New York Times)

But did you know: Rival networks speak out against banning of CNN reporter from Rose Garden event (CNN)

The White House took retaliatory action against Kaitlan Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, after Collins asked President Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op on Wednesday, writes Brian Stelter. Collins had been the representing all the networks as the “pool reporter” during a meeting between President Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and asked questions that the administration considered “inappropriate.” CNN, rival networks, and the White House Correspondents Association all spoke out against the administration’s action. “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press,” Fox News president Jay Wallace said.

+ Noted: Maynard Institute announces fellows for its inaugural training program for journalists of color (Maynard Institute); Application deadline approaching for NewsMatch 2018, which connects nonprofit newsrooms with funding opportunities (The Miami Foundation); Troy Young named president of Hearst Magazines (AdWeek)


To boost subscribers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune focuses on the middle of the funnel (Digiday)

Over the past year, the Star Tribune has grown its digital subscriber base by 30 percent, marking significant progress since its digital subscriber adoption rate had slowed to a near standstill about two years ago. The “mid-funnel” tactics it used to arrive at 55,000 digital subscribers include targeting heavy readers with subscription offers rather than programmatic ads, using an article index that scores the stories that most led to subscriptions, and promoting its service journalism, particularly food and drink stories, on Facebook.

+ Earlier: Our study on the 9 paths that lead consumers to subscribe

+ 8 tips for covering U.S. elections from a former elections administrator (Journalists Resource); Finding the news “gold” in education research (Education Writers Association)


What’s worked (and hasn’t) in the BBC’s quest for new storytelling formats (Nieman Lab)

Looking to go beyond text and engage younger readers, the BBC dedicated two months to testing various interactive article formats. “With an 800-word article, there is no interaction,” said Tristan Ferne, lead producer for the BBC’s research and development unit. “This audience is spending all their time in Snapchat and Twitter, where there’s constant interaction in the interface.” The formats that proved most popular with BBC’s test audiences included “expanders,” highlights in an article that reveal context when clicked; video with a scrollable transcript that speeds up or reverses the video; and a “choose-your-own-adventure” format that presents segmented content with options for a video clip, short or long text summaries, and the ability to skip segments. This last format proved an audience favorite, but requires a heavy editor lift by creating the same content in various forms.


Sen. Ron Wyden on breaking up Facebook, net neutrality, and the law that built the internet (The Verge)

Wyden co-authored Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a piece of legislation that, in 1996, limited internet companies’ liability for what was posted on their platforms by third parties. For better or worse, Section 230 built the internet as we know it, allowing companies like Facebook to become the giants they are today. Now, Wyden, who has been called a “one-man Consumer Internet Protection Bureau,” is focused on legislation that aims to protect Americans from the tech giants he once helped to defend.


A photojournalist sparks controversy with an ‘exploitative’ series on poverty in India (Quartz)

An Italian photojournalist’s staged images of impoverished Indians posing before fake food has sparked outrage online, with critics calling it exploitative and unethical, writes Maria Thomas. “This is poor journalism and even poorer humanity,” Hari Adivarekar, an Indian photojournalist, wrote in a comment. “Too many have come and done this kind of shameful work in India and their rewards just open the door for many others to think it’s ok. It isn’t.” Many journalists have urged World Press Photo, which published the series on its Instagram account, to delete the images, but the organization declined, saying that controversies are best handled through constructive debate.

+ Facebook’s departing chief security officer says Facebook needs to be “willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues” at play (BuzzFeed)


Community ratings of articles don’t increase readers’ trust (Nieman Lab)

“It takes a village for some things, but it doesn’t necessarily take a village-wide rating of a news article to increase a reader’s trust in the same piece,” writes Christine Schmidt. Users in a recent study by the Knight Foundation and Gallup were shown articles that were topped with ratings generated by “people like you,” a factor determined by users’ own demographics and that of others in the study. But the community ratings actually drove down readers’ trust in the articles. “Overall, we hypothesize that showing others’ opinions, on average, through the community or ‘people like you’ feature in isolation creates cognitive dissonance that results in a user choosing to have a lower level of trust in a news article or outlet,” the researchers wrote.  

+ What we would lose without local news (Twitter, @timgrieve); New documentary from ProPublica and Frontline chronicles a year of reporting on violent white supremacists and Neo-Nazis (ProPublica)