Need to Know: June 5, 2018

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


You might have heard: The world is more than 25 years into the web era, more than half of American households have had home Internet for 15 years, and the current smartphone paradigm began more than a decade ago

But did you know: The early 2000s saw the greatest growth in TV viewing time of any decade since Nielsen began keeping track in 1949-1950 (The Atlantic)

With Netflix and Amazon Prime, Facebook Video and YouTube, it’s tempting to imagine that the tech industry destroyed TV. But television viewing didn’t peak until 2009-2010, when the average American household watched 8 hours and 55 minutes of TV per day. 32 percent of the increase in viewing time from the birth of television to its peak occurred in the first years of the 21st century. Over the last 8 years, all the new, non-TV things—Facebook, phones, YouTube, Netflix—have only cut about an hour per day from the dizzying amount of TV that the average household watches. Americans are still watching more than 7 hours and 50 minutes per household per day.

+ Related: A year after the “pivot,” video still rules content and advertising (Editor and Publisher)

+ Noted: Apple adds browse tab to Apple News to help users find new topics, channels and stories from publishers (CNET); The White House has announced its intent to nominate Bannon ally Michael Pack to lead the Broadcasting Board of Governors (CNNMoney); Former CEO of Gizmodo Media Group Raju Narisetti is joining Columbia University to run its Knight-Bagehot program for business journalists (Columbia Journalism School); 400,000 people now subscribe to NYT’s digital crossword (Poynter); The Athletic says it now has more than 100,000 total subscribers (Wall Street Journal)


Podcasting keeps inching toward measurement standards, but is reluctant to deal with the short-term pain (Digiday)

A lack of measurement standards is keeping ad dollars away from podcasting. But its move toward a measurement standard has been fitful because doing so will cause podcast producers short-term pain. Now the industry is slowly getting its act together, writes Max Willens. On July 1, Wondery, a top five podcaster that’s responsible for shows including “Dirty John” and “Accused,” will become what it says is the first to completely adopt the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s new standard for podcast measurement. Wondery hopes switching to the IAB standard will encourage its peers to do the same.

+ CJR has compiled the beginnings of a public database of women, nonbinary, and people of color who are experts on the media (Columbia Journalism Review); After hiatus, Indian Country Today returns with business plan borrowed from public media (Current)


Draft French law would allow authorities to immediately halt the publication of information deemed false ahead of elections (Agence France-Presse)

France is the latest country attempting to fight the scourge of fake news with legislation — but opponents say the law won’t work and could even be used to silence critics. The draft law, designed to stop what the government calls “manipulation of information” in the run-up to elections, will be debated in parliament Thursday with a view to it being put into action during next year’s European parliamentary polls. The idea for the bill came from President Emmanuel Macron. Under the law, French authorities would be able to immediately halt the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.


How the alt-right manipulates the internet’s biggest commenting platform (BuzzFeed News)

The alt-right and white nationalist trolls who frequent Twitter and backwater message boards have found another gathering place online: the commenting platform Disqus. Used by publications like Rolling Stone and TMZ, Disqus says it gets about 2 billion unique visitors each month. It supports anonymous commenting and allows its users to comment on any Disqus-enabled site — a single Disqus account is a gateway to discussions on thousands of sites. It also hosts its own channels. And lately some of those channels have become rallying points for white supremacists looking to red-pill users in discussions around contentious, already-politicized news events. And while Disqus has a hate speech policy, it doesn’t seem to be particularly vigorous about enforcing it, writes Charlie Warzel.

+ Twitter disbands live video unit and folds it into content partnerships team, plus ex-Head of News Peter Greenberger and exec Todd Swidler are leaving (Variety); Some political ads in a California Congressional primary slipped or bypassed Facebook’s new restrictions for disclosure and authorization (The New York Times)


‘Why we disagree with The New York Times’ (Facebook)

The New York Times has written a long piece about our device-integrated APIs — software we launched 10 years ago to help get Facebook onto mobile devices. While we agreed with many of their past concerns about the controls over Facebook information shared with third-party app developers, we disagree with the issues they’ve raised about these APIs. Here’s why. In the early days of mobile, the demand for Facebook outpaced our ability to build versions of the product that worked on every phone or operating system … So companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube had to work directly with operating system and device manufacturers to get their products into people’s hands. This took a lot of time … To bridge this gap, we built a set of device-integrated APIs that allowed companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their individual devices or operating systems.”

+ White House reporters say things are getting more challenging (BuzzFeed News)


How journalism got so out of touch with the people it covers (Columbia Journalism Review)

“Coming from a low-income background, I entered journalism by looking for where the jobs were,” writes Sarah Jones. “I graduated from a blue-collar public high school in Appalachian Virginia, and attended a conservative Christian college because, with scholarships, it’s where I could afford to go … From where I sit, I don’t know many national journalists who have a background like mine. In fact, the industry sometimes seems designed to keep [anyone coming from a low-income background] out of newsrooms altogether. Journalists aren’t supposed to become the story, and talking about your background can veer into navel-gazing. But journalists aren’t automatons, either. Whether you cover pop culture or poverty, your background shapes your path into your chosen field. And if your background includes poverty, that path contains boulders.”

+ How three very different wealthy newspaper owners got three very different results (Poynter)