Need to Know: June 13, 2018

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


You might have heard: A former Senate Intelligence Committee aide was charged in a leak case where an NYT reporter’s records were seized and press advocates have bashed the US government’s seizure of years of email and phone data from NYT reporter Ali Watkins, covering time she worked at multiple outlets (The New York Times)

But did you know: A Customs and Border Protection agent now faces inquiry after questioning NYT reporter Ali Watkins about her sources (Washington Post)

Customs and Border Protection agent Jeffrey Rambo met with journalist Watkins under the guise of being a potential new source, but after arriving, questioned Watkins broadly about her reporting and how she developed information. He also contacted Watkins using a personal email address and declined to provide his name. Rambo asked Watkins, then a reporter at Politico, about her relationship with James Wolfe, then the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee. He gave her accurate dates and destinations for trips the two had taken together overseas. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility says it’s investigating his behavior. His search of travel records could be a crime if he didn’t have a legitimate reason to examine that information, which is protected by privacy laws, officials said.

+ Related: The New York Times will examine Watkins’ work history, “including the nature of her relationship with Wolfe, and what she disclosed about it to her prior employers” (The New York Times)

+ Noted: A judge ruled that AT&T can complete its $85 billion merger with Time Warner (CNBC); Ex-LA Times managing editor has been named editor and vice president of the San Antonio Express-News (San Antonio Express-News); DCist launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance its relaunch (DCist); Google is using Facebook fatigue to woo publishers (Digiday); TheSkimm brings its news service to Android (TechCrunch); The Boston Globe drops its lawsuit against a former employee (Boston Magazine)


A survival kit for journalists of color (Poynter)

The Toolkit for Journalists of Color is a deck of cards developed by two John S. Knight Journalism Fellows, Dr. Seema Yasmin and Michael Grant. Yasmin says they were able to make the Toolkit because journalists of color shared their experiences of racism, sexism and xenophobia in the newsroom. The Toolkit for Journalists of Color is designed to help people of color survive in predominantly white newsrooms, from in-the-moment responses for everyday microaggressions, to deliberative exercises that help you build community and recruit allies in the newsroom. The Toolkit is one part of their Survival Kit for Journalists of Color, which will include a tool for white journalists who want to be allies to people of color.

+ Health news site Stat is charging viewers $10 to stream its new documentary (Digiday)


Canada’s The Logic is a new subscription news outlet focused on the innovation economy (Nieman Lab)

A new Canadian subscription news outlet The Logic is being modeled in large part after Silicon Valley news site The Information. The Logic’s focus will be on the innovation economy and its impacts across business, policy, culture, and more. David Skok, CEO and editor-in-chief, is betting there are enough Canadian (and Canada-interested) readers willing to support the low-volume, high-quality type of business publication The Logic wants to be. He said there’ve been a few other twinkles of journalism innovation in Canada lately

+ BBC staff accept new pay deal after two years of negotiations (The Guardian)


How Viacom uses artificial intelligence to predict the success of its social campaigns (Digiday)

To eliminate some of the guesswork from its social media campaigns, Viacom has turned to machines. Over the past year, a seven-person data science team in Viacom’s ad sales group has been building a pipeline to collect near-real time information about how its social media posts perform. This way, the entertainment giant can predict how many social posts it will need to reach audience goals and what kinds of posts to use in each campaign. Using the product, Viacom set performance benchmarks for different kinds of social media posts by platform and all its brands, which include Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central.


‘No, Craig Newmark did not kill local news’ (Medium, Aron Pilhofer)

“For a long time I wondered why newspaper executives simply sat there and watched as Craigslist ate into their bottom line, much in the way Google and Facebook are today on the advertising side,” writes Aron Pilhofer. “I used to wonder why they didn’t see the obvious danger a product like Craigslist posed. Having spent a bit of time on the business side of two publications, I’ve changed my view. Newspaper executives absolutely saw the threat. They just didn’t (or couldn’t) do anything about it for the same reason that any incumbent industry seemingly sits there waiting to be disrupted: The profit margins of the old thing were just too good. Until they weren’t. And by then it’s too late.”

+ Related: “Blaming Craigslist for the problems of newspapers just makes me crazy. [Craig Newmark] had access to the same tools newspapers did. And he built something people wanted and liked.” (@jimbrady, Twitter)


Newsweek and the race to fill Google with suicide news (The Verge)

After the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, Newsweek produced a number of stories clearly designed to feed search engine demand. “Who Is Anthony Bourdain’s Ex-Wife Ottavia Busia? Chef Dead At 61,” read one; “What Is Anthony Bourdain’s Net Worth? Chef, Found Dead At 61, Built Cooking Empire, But Money Wasn’t Top Concern,” read another. Those headlines were eventually changed, but the site’s drive to capture a piece of the massive audience searching for details remains. Google Trends data shows a spike in searches for “anthony bourdain net worth” and “anthony bourdain wife” after his death.

+ Related: Ex-New York Times columnist Joe Nocera opens up about his struggle with depression and bipolar disorder and how it impacted his work at the paper (Bloomberg)

+ An eight-episode series of The New York Times’ Modern Love column is coming to Amazon Studios (The Hollywood Reporter); Publishers are seeing huge traffic spikes from Flipboard, but no one really knows why (Business Insider)