Need to Know: June 20, 2018

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


You might have heard: There is not enough philanthropic dollars flowing into journalism to make up for the gaps in what has been lost from legacy newsrooms (The Shorenstein Center at Harvard and Northeastern University)

But did you know: There is a growing gap in philanthropic support for newsroom diversity (Medium, Democracy Fund)

Journalism has long struggled to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves, and over the past decade, most efforts to support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in news outlets have been unsuccessful in creating meaningful change within the stories, sources, and staff of newsrooms across the United States, writes Lea Trusty, a program assistant at Democracy Fund. New research from Democracy Fund traces half a decade of philanthropic investment in organizations, programming, and research aimed at increasing DEI in journalism. From 2009 to 2015, there were 1,105 grants totaling $105.6 million from 274 funders to 294 recipients pertaining to either racial and ethnic groups, women and girls, or LGBTQI populations. Funding has declined in these areas overall, both in terms of dollar value by $1.3 million and total number of grants by 18.

+ Read the full report: Supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in journalism: Trends in national grantmaking (Democracy Fund)

+ Noted: Entertainers in Murdoch’s media empire speak out against Fox News (The New York Times): Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan says he will not be re-upping his contract with 20th Century Fox TV due to the studio’s ties with Fox News (Variety) and days after criticizing Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Seth MacFarlane donates $2 million to NPR and $500K to KPCC in Los Angeles (Deadline); AT&T in talks to acquire AppNexus (Cheddar); Newsroom organizers at the Florida Times-Union announce their intent to unionize with the NewsGuild-CWA (Jacksonville Business Journal); Vox Media is folding Racked from a standalone site into a Vox vertical (Axios); 24 senators now co-sponsoring a bill to suspend newsprint tariffs after about 50 newspaper executives flew in to Washington last week to lobby (The Daily Beast)


Good Media Group and Upworthy are getting into the commerce business (Digiday)

Is there a socially conscious, ethically responsible way for publishers to pursue commerce revenue? Good Media Group is about to find out. The parent of Upworthy and Good Magazine announced the launch of the Public Service Apparel Supply Company, or PSA Supply Co., a clothing brand created with Social Imprints, an ethical product manufacturing company. PSA will begin with six product lines, including T-shirts ($29), pins ($10) and tote bags ($19) that bear positivity-focused slogans. PSA is part of Good Media Group’s marketing and strategy group but draws from different departments, including editorial, marketing, creative and design.


How Swiss news publisher NZZ built a flexible paywall with machine learning (Digiday)

There’s more than one way to build a paywall. Over the last year, Swiss news publisher Neue Zürcher Zeitung has been using a payment system that is personalized to the individual based on hundreds of criteria. NZZ requires people to register and eventually, pay. But when readers get these registration and payment messages and how those messages look varies based on predefined rules, dozens of A/B tests and machine learning. “If we’re to be successful in paid content, we need to individualize the experience with our product and the product itself, and automate our marketing approach,” said Steven Neubauer, managing director at Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

+ MittMedia in Sweden created a “Homeowners Bot” that writes an automated real estate story about every property sale, and it has driven hundreds of subscriptions (INMA); South China Morning Post launches Goldthread, its third new site this year (Goldthread); EU Parliament committee votes for tougher copyright rules that could force tech firms to bear liability for copyright infringement in user generated content (TechCrunch)


What to do when your boss won’t advocate for you (Harvard Business Review)

While it’s easy to love the great bosses and flee the bad ones, there’s one kind of boss that’s much less straightforward to navigate: the boss who doesn’t advocate for you, writes Nicholas Pearce. You might not even know that you have one. Most advocacy happens behind the scenes and in conversations to which you yourself are not privy. “When you discover you have a boss who isn’t advocating for you, the knee-jerk reaction is often to advocate for yourself and become your own PR machine. That’s often a mistake. … You ideally want others tooting your horn for you. Before taking action to close this critical advocacy gap, you’ll want to understand why your boss isn’t advocating for you.”

+ Facebook plans to introduce more types of content to Watch, adding polls, quizzes — and maybe more YouTubers (CNBC)


Is it OK to sleep with your sources? (Politico)

“It’s never OK for reporters to sleep with their sources … [New York Times reporter] Ali Watkins deserves a good scolding and professional reprimands if she crossed that line,” Politico’s Jack Shafer writes. Shafer goes on to explore the history and context of why romantic relationships with potential sources pose problems. “But based on what we know about [Watkins’] case, she deserves a second chance. Given all the male reporters over the years who’ve escaped punishment for their sins of the flesh, it’s only fair.”

+ “How to end misogyny in the news industry: An open letter to the international journalism community” (Nieman Lab)


The history of The New York Times stylebook (Columbia Journalism Review)

The Associated Press didn’t call its manual a “stylebook” until 1950. And the AP’s early iterations of guidelines concentrated mainly on the mechanics of typesetting and transmission rather than language and usage. The New York Times, though, was an early adopter. It started calling its guidebook a “style book” sometime before 1928. (The library of Times stylebooks goes back only that far, and that one is “revised.”) And, unlike the AP, the early Times stylebooks spent about half its length on consistency in spelling, grammar, and usage.

+ The New York Times agreed not to use on-the-record audio recording of Stephen Miller in The Daily podcast after the White House objected (Huffington Post) and NYT’s statement on the decision not to use the interview audio (Twitter, @NYTimesPR);

+ “We tried to create a deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg and Alex Jones — and failed” (Poynter)