Need to Know: July 27, 2018
Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism
You might have heard: Facebook loses more than $100 billion in value — the biggest drop in Wall Street history — as privacy concerns finally take a toll (The Washington Post)
But did you know: Facebook’s stock shock foreshadows a less profitable future for the social network (Variety)
On Wednesday, investors reacted with shock after Facebook delivered lower-than-expected earnings, growth metrics, and financial forecasts, reports Janko Roettgers. The social media company told investors that its revenue growth would decelerate over the coming quarters, and that its operating margin would sink from its current level of 44 percent to somewhere in the mid-30s. Facebook CFO David Wehner attributed this to a bigger investment in security and content moderation, which executives have flagged for some time as something that could negatively impact profitability. He also warned that Facebook’s embrace of video would likely mean that people would spend less time in the company’s highly-profitable newsfeed. “There is, in that sense, a cannibalistic effect of sort happening there,” Wehner said.
+ Noted: Cox Enterprises could merge its 14 TV stations into a larger TV company — or sell (Orlando Sentinel); Media access to the Pentagon is declining, reporters say (Politico); More than 40 NPR employees join peer group to help with harassment issues (Current); Facebook suspends conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for 30 days (CNET); Justice Department investigates TV station owners over ad sales (The Wall Street Journal)
As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. The latest edition of “The Week in Fact-Checking” newsletter includes a rundown of the latest controversies embroiling Facebook, advice on starting your own fact-checking project, and a Twitter bot that automatically corrects fake news.
Why the Boston Globe and WBUR decided their daily sports podcast wasn’t worth it (The Lenfest Institute)
The Boston Globe and Boston public radio station WBUR collaborated last year to launch Season Ticket, a daily podcast focused on Boston sports. The short-lived podcast was hosted by a Globe sports columnist and produced by WBUR. After falling short of their goal of 1 million monthly downloads, WBUR and the Globe decided to end Season Ticket. The podcast wasn’t generating the revenue it needed to make it sustainable, and it was difficult to keep up with the daily production schedule. “You can only devote so much time to the podcast,” said Globe deputy sports editor Scott Thurston. “You have other responsibilities in putting out the newspaper…We really had to think ahead about how we wanted to book guests and you need time to line up people. We also had to rely on our own staff to work around their schedules, so they could come in and do segments with us.”
+ “Now we need your help”: Reveal creates a collaborative platform for journalists investigating drug and alcohol rehab programs (Reveal)
Forget Facebook and Twitter, fake news is even worse on WhatsApp (The Washington Post)
Americans associate fake news with Facebook and Twitter, which are largely open forums, but in other countries, falsities are just as likely to spread on private messaging services. “In the U.S., the disinformation debate is about the Facebook news feed, but globally, it’s all about closed messaging apps,” said Claire Wardle, executive director of the fact-checking organization First Draft. The closed nature of messaging services complicates the already difficult task of fighting rumors and stamping out lies. On WhatsApp, with 1.5 billion users, information can go viral in minutes as individuals forward messages along to their friends or groups, without any way to determine its origin.
Teens are debating the news on Instagram (The Atlantic)
Teenagers looking to talk about big issues are turning to “flop” accounts on Instagram — pages that are collectively managed by several teens, many of them devoted to discussions of hot-button topics: gun control, abortion, immigration, President Trump, LGBTQ issues, YouTubers, breaking news, viral memes. “But as flop accounts grow by the thousands, many of the internet’s worst dynamics have begun to duplicate themselves on Instagram,” writes Taylor Lorenz. “Some flop accounts are rife with polarization, drama, and misinformation. All the while, an increasing number of teens are turning to these types of accounts for news, seeing them as more reliable and trustworthy than traditional media.”
Police have a functional monopoly on information in the crime beat that seems unparalleled across journalism, writes Sophie Haigney. “‘Police said’ is peppered all over daily crime stories. Often, if you look closely, you’ll notice it’s the basis for the entire story.” While the lack of other sources is often due to constraints of time and resources, Haigney argues that another factor in police-dominated crime narratives is reporters’ unthinking trust in law enforcement. A good crime story “can expose fractures in a community, broad societal injustices, the failures of law enforcement,” she writes. “If the story doesn’t get at something beyond what the police said happened, don’t publish it.”
KTVU-TV is facing backlash after it aired a Facebook photo of a stabbing victim who appeared to be holding what looked like a gun. Turns out, it was her cell phone case. “KTVU victimized her twice by airing an image that puts her in a negative light, and that also has nothing to do with her death,” said NABJ president Sarah Glover. “The lack of sensitivity shown to the victim and her family is unacceptable.” KTVU anchor Frank Somerville issued an apology on air and on Facebook, saying there was “no excuse” for the mistake. But the controversy carries real lessons for newsrooms, writes Al Tompkins. Remember that images need context. Be sensitive to how they might reinforce stereotypes. Abide by fair use laws. And remember that online mistakes can cause lasting harm, as in KTVU’s case. “If the victim has died,” said Glover, “understand that everything published is final and this individual will not be able to correct their record.”
FOR THE WEEKEND
+ How local news outlets can build an online audience: Email and SEO are critical to audience development and monetization in single-subject newsrooms, write Shorenstein Center researchers Elizabeth Hansen and Emily Roseman. That goes for local newsrooms too. (Medium, Trust, Media & Democracy)
+ The media’s failure to connect the dots on climate change (The New Republic)