Need to Know: July 30, 2020


You might have heard: Artificial intelligence won’t take over journalists’ jobs (Polis)

But did you know: A lesson in automated journalism: Bring back the humans (Nieman Lab)

Duke University’s Tech & Check team has been using automation and artificial intelligence to fact-check statements made by politicians and political candidates since 2017. Now, the co-directors of the Duke University Reporters’ Lab say that despite the successes of their technology, “human help is still vital.” In the case of their video fact-checking app, it was often hard for voice-to-text and matching algorithms to accurately find the right fact check for the right claim. So the team has developed a new app, Gardener, which allows humans to weed out bad matches and make the final call on what appears.

+ Related: Machines are gaining the ability to write, and they are getting terrifyingly good at it (The New York Times)

+ Noted: Poynter Institute announces 57 emerging journalists named to Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship (Poynter); Current has launched its fourth Local that Works contest (Current); Conde Nast shows more signs of cookie-less future for publishers (MediaPost); Los Angeles Times journalists will be working full time again starting next week (Twitter, @latguild); Hearst Magazines staffers vote to form a union (CNN)


How the Indianapolis Star’s multimedia project playbook helped earn nearly $100,000 in sponsorships (Better News)

The Indianapolis Star created a playbook that helps journalists build a business plan for multimedia projects, including how to engage target audiences, acquire subscribers and increase advertising and sponsorships. The goal was to set projects up for success in engagement, sales and subscriber acquisition before they launched. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.


The Dallas Morning News partners with Black-owned Texas Metro News for content, events and training (The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Morning News is partnering with the Texas Metro News, a Black-owned publication, in order to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color. The Texas Metro News will be able to publish any Dallas Morning News articles for free, while the Morning News will pay a consulting fee for sourcing, story ideas and other resources to the Metro News. Texas Metro News, which began in 2012, has a weekly printed newspaper, as well as daily podcasts and newsletters.

+ The Financial Times improved reader habit by 39% by improving user experience (Medium, FT Product & Technology)


How a Ukrainian radio station put women first in its coronavirus coverage (Poynter)

Hromadske Radio in Ukraine faced a unique problem in March — its listeners didn’t think COVID-19 was a major problem in the country. To raise alarm bells, the nonprofit radio station created four programs specifically aimed at women, covering issues like domestic violence and child care alongside coronavirus statistics and public health messages. The station also ran a campaign urging listeners to verify pandemic information that they saw online, and repeatedly aired clips with public health information from medical authorities.


Google gives almost half of the first page of search engine results to its own products (The Markup)

Google started as a way to send users around the web, but these days, it’s more interested in keeping them inside Google products. A new investigation from The Markup found that 41% of the first page of search results on a mobile phone included Google properties or “direct answers,” which are excerpts from other sites. One out of five searches on an iPhone X did not include any outside links on the first page. Some companies, including in the travel industry, say the preferential treatment is killing competition. Nearly nine out of 10 web searches in the U.S. is on Google.


A growing group of journalists has cut back on Twitter, or abandoned it entirely (Poynter)

For many journalists, Twitter is a meeting ground and a megaphone, a way to connect with sources, amplify stories, and network with colleagues. But a lot of journalists are dramatically scaling back their Twitter usage, either getting rid of their profiles entirely, or deleting old tweets and limiting usage of the site. Plenty of journalists can point to Twitter as a way they developed connections, built their brand and found work, but with it can come torrents of abuse, particularly for people of color and women.


Five lesson on equitable fundraising for local journalism (The Lenfest Institute)

Recent discussions surrounding systemic racism in the U.S have amplified the need to address inequities in the way local journalism in the U.S. is funded. A recent discussion about race and equity in news fundraising and philanthropy found that one of the first lessons for news organizations is to recognize inequalities as well as how past coverage may have hurt communities of color. Funders have the ability to drive change by requiring demographic data about boards and staffs from the newsrooms they sponsor. And all of these issues must be addressed immediately, as local news steps up to cover coronavirus.