Need to Know: June 26, 2018

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


You might have heard: Apple News’s human editors prefer a few major newsrooms (Columbia Journalism Review)

But did you know: With a light jab at Facebook, Apple News launches a 2018 midterm elections section that’ll “steer clear of rumor and propaganda” (Nieman Lab)

Apple News is seizing the moment of fear and confusion among readers over how much “fake news” (and what actually is fake news) they come across, and among news organizations of how little their audiences trust their work. Instead of promoting automation and algorithms or scale and speed, Apple News will deliver “breaking news, exclusive highlights and analysis from reliable sources selected by Apple News’ team of experienced human editors.” Those sources include The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, HuffPost and Fox News, among other national outlets.

+ Noted: Hearst Magazines president is stepping down (The Wall Street Journal); Gray Television to buy rival broadcaster Raycom Media in $3.65 billion deal (Reuters); Raycom will shed Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. as part of the deal with Gray (CNHI); Poynter’s NewsU is offering a free webinar Thursday on covering elections (NewsU)


How the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel grew Facebook reach 6x in a year (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel developed a social strategy to reach new audiences with three parts: best practices to encourage sharing, programming Facebook and creating social-exclusive content. We talked to social media editor Emily Ristow about how they did it and what advice she has for others to follow.

API Field Notes: Exploring digital subscriptions in New York and workplace integrity in D.C.

API is in New York, D.C. and Minneapolis this week for several events and workshops. Director of Reader Revenue Gwen Vargo is at WAN IFRA’s Digital Media North American conference in New York, which will cover digital subscriptions and membership programs. Program Associate Katherine Ellis is attending a “train-the-trainer” workshop on combating workplace harassment and discrimination at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. And Director of Newsroom Learning Amy L. Kovac-Ashley will facilitate a session at the 2018 SRCCON in Minneapolis on how journalists can better cover marginalized communities. Keep up with our insights and key takeaways on Twitter @AmPress.


Earn trust by sharing what motivates your journalism (Medium)

Too many people think journalism is motivated primarily by personal agendas and a desire to make money, writes Joy Mayer of “The only surprising thing about that is how little we’re doing to set the record straight.” Mayer points to research that shows that people trust “selfless” workers, who are working on behalf of the common good, and describes how explaining motivations behind specific stories can proactively address audiences’ questions and complaints.

+ When it comes to launching serious, sustainable membership programs for journalism, ask for more, more often, and aim higher (Nieman Lab); How to assess your coverage area for gaps (RTDNA); A blueprint for how local buyers can save a newspaper (Poynter)


BBC boosts local news output through data journalism project (

To help regional media use public data to generate more local stories, the BBC has created the Shared Data Unit, a project aimed at sharing public data with local newsrooms and providing data journalism training. The project not only collects more than 36,000 datasets from public authorities into one portal, it provides a toolkit for journalists on how to interpret that data and mine it for stories that serve their specific audiences. The initiative has so far generated more than 300 stories in local news outlets.


How to make your video stand out in crowded social media feeds (The Drum)

Digital marketers share their best tips for making compelling videos for social media: the shorter the video, the higher viewers’ completion rates; make the copy as clear and descriptive as possible (and use relevant keywords); remember that most viewers don’t hear the audio when watching video; and optimize for mobile (square videos occupy 78 percent more space and were found by one study to garner significantly more views and engagement).


The New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters defends his reporting on Trump supporters (Slate)

Political reporter Jeremy W. Peters in his Times cover story on Trump supporters argued that Republicans are continuing to support the president in part because they are tired of the constant attacks leveled against him by both Democrats and the media. These attacks have led them to feel defensive of themselves and Trump. The result, according to Peters, has been a “bonding experience” that keeps the party’s voters from drifting away. In this Q&A with Isaac Chotiner, Peters discusses the critiques of his story, why different factions of the Republican Party have united around Trump, and how to report on people whose voting preferences may have to do with things they don’t advertise.

+ “It’s time for the press to suspend normal relations with the Trump presidency” (PressThink)


How Facebook tried to block distribution of a blockbuster story (Poynter)

Last week Reveal published a piece about a treatment center housing migrant children that was accused of coercing them to take powerful psychiatric drugs. But Facebook wouldn’t allow Reveal to pay to promote the story, classifying the story as a political ad. That seemed to be a fundamental mischaracterization of what independent, nonpartisan investigative news organizations like Reveal and the Center for Investigative Reporting do, according to Reveal’s engagement reporter Byard Duncan. Reveal was just one of the latest news outlets to run up against Facebook’s dysfunctional and inconsistent new policy, writes David Beard. Newspapers such as the FT have stopped advertising on Facebook, and seven major news organizations have protested.

+ Earlier: Seven news organizations protest Facebook’s issue ads policy (Digiday)