Need to Know: June 15, 2018

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


You might have heard: The influence of social media platforms and technology companies has had a greater effect on American journalism than even the shift from print to digital (The Tow Center)

But did you know: Despite concerns about control, news publishers are still pushing a lot of content to third-party platforms (The Tow Center)

The relationship between technology platforms and news publishers has endured a fraught 18 months, writes Emily Bell. Even so, the external forces of civic and regulatory pressure are hastening a convergence. Journalism has played a critical part in pushing for accountability of companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, yet newsrooms are increasingly oriented toward understanding and leveraging platforms as part of finding a sustainable future. In its latest research, Tow found that despite negative rhetoric and sentiment in newsrooms toward technology companies, there is a rapid and ongoing merging in the functions of publishers and platforms, and often a surprisingly high level of influence from platform companies in news production.

+ In case you missed it: API’s latest Media Insight Project study looks at where the public and journalists see eye-to-eye — and where they don’t

+ Noted: ASNE and APME will merge to create a new journalism leadership organization (ASNE); The MacArthur Foundation launched the Jack Fuller Legacy Initiative, an initial $2.4 million in grants to help strengthen journalism and media in Chicago (MacArthur Foundation), which includes an initial investment of $1 million in City Bureau (Medium, City Bureau); AT&T has completed its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner (Axios); Longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist says he was fired after going public with claims the paper rejected cartoons for political reasons (The Philly Inquirer); The Atlantic hires the Houston Chronicle’s Vernon Loeb as politics editor (Washington Post); The Investigative Fund announced its 2018 Ida B. Wells fellows (The Investigative Fund)

API Update

The week in fact-checking

As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes a study that reveals Zika rumors do better on social media than real news, tips for fact-checking a controversial social issue, and scientists help make sure that sci-fi has a healthy dose of science over fiction.

+ A progress report on the next round of Table Stakes, an API-supported effort to guide local journalism’s path forward (Columbia Journalism Review)


How readers helped develop The Washington Post’s World Cup newsletter (Lenfest Institute)

The Washington Post wanted to launch a pop-up newsletter for the men’s World Cup, but first the newsletter team wanted to ensure it was something readers wanted. The Post’s newsletter team put together a short survey asking readers if they would read a World Cup newsletter — 76 percent of respondents said they wanted one. Tessa Muggeridge, the Post’s newsletter and alerts editor, shared some lessons, including: If you’re going to ask readers for their opinions, you should incorporate their feedback into the work. The Post hopes the newsletter grows its international audience, and it plans to use this methodology again for future products.

+ Confessions of a Snapchat Discover publisher: We’re looking beyond the app (Digiday)


Publisher data shows that the average UK publisher loses roughly £630,000 ($837,000) in annual revenue due to ad blocking (Digiday)

While the rate of ad blocking has remained nearly flat on desktop, with a small increase in mobile, the revenue loss has grown partly due to publishers growing their audiences and adding more ad inventory. U.K. publisher trade body the Association for Online Publishers, whose members include Condé Nast, ESI Media, Global, the Guardian and The Telegraph, aggregated data from 14 of its members and found that at the end of 2017, 29.9 percent of ad impressions on desktop were blocked compared to 31.7 percent at its height in mid-2016. The AOP calculated nearly £14 million ($18.6 million) in revenue was lost due to blocked ad impressions in 12 months. In 2016 this was £10.8 million ($14.4 million).


Dear conference organizers: You’re doing chairs wrong (Motherboard)

Next time you’re at a conference, pay attention to the chairs and the folks in skirts and dresses trying to navigate them, writes Rose Eveleth. “If you do, a frustratingly common problem will become clear. Nearly every femme-identifying person I know has wrestled with tall bar stools, directors chairs, deep arm chairs, and more. Recently at a podcasting conference I watched as a woman perched herself awkwardly at the edge of an armchair that was elevated so her crotch was exactly at eye level for the audience. At another conference I saw two women convene before their panel purely to scope out the seating situation. One of them decided to change into pants.”


‘Why untrue tweets from Trump shouldn’t be unchallenged in headlines’ (The Washington Post)

Most Americans aren’t on Twitter, and those who are mostly don’t follow Trump’s account. A poll from Gallup last month found that only 8 percent of Americans follow Trump on Twitter, and only half of them read most of his tweets. That’s one out of every 25 Americans who, by themselves, would have read the claim in Trump’s tweet. And yet Gallup also found that more than half of Americans see, read or hear “a lot” about Trump’s tweets. Many, if not most, Americans also rely heavily on headlines to convey news to them. Meaning that many Americans learn about what Trump says in his tweets through the summaries that appear in headlines. Philip Bump argues that headlines need to provide context for Trump’s claims.

+ With net neutrality gone and mergers galore, it’s a new internet (Axios)


Advice for interns: Go beyond what’s required, send handwritten thank you notes and find allies (Poynter)

“The first time I oversaw an intern, my boss gave me valuable advice: Having an intern is actually more work (you need to carve out a lot of time to give feedback), and you are there to teach and guide,” writes Rachel Schallom. “It’s not about what they are bringing to you. This doesn’t mean they aren’t useful; many interns provide a lot of value to newsrooms. But I believe it is managers’ responsibility to provide environments that allow interns to grow as journalists and colleagues.” 10 women journalists share advice to this year’s interns to help them be as successful as possible.

+ A fact-checker hatched an elaborate scheme to catch a site that was stealing his stories (BuzzFeed News); More TV stations than ever are running local news (Poynter)


+ A Stalin-era Gulag survivor never saw her husband again but USA Today found him (USA Today)

+ Dean Baquet and Maggie Haberman discuss Trump’s “war on journalism”: A new Showtime documentary series, “The Fourth Estate,” chronicles a year at the Times. David Remnick sat down with Baquet and Haberman to discuss parsing Trump’s statements, whether there’s a difference between a falsehood and a lie, the many phone calls that this pair of journalists have fielded from an upset President, and the effect that Trump has had on the news-reading public (The New Yorker)

+ How India’s first newspaper exposed the corrupt British East India Company (Quartz)

+ Advocates are becoming journalists. Is that a good thing? (Columbia Journalism Review)