Need to Know: March 8, 2019

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


You might have heardFacebook will reorient itself from a public forum to a private messaging platform (Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg)

But did you know: Will private sharing mark the end of Facebook’s supposed commitment to helping journalism? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Facebook’s shift to private, encrypted, and ephemeral messaging, rather than public sharing, could have significant implications for the future of news and information — including misinformation, writes Mathew Ingram. “Is Facebook making changes because they are better for users, or because they make life easier for Facebook? If hateful or violent content will soon appear in private rather than public messages, does that mean the company is no longer liable for the spread of that content?” And when it comes to the business of journalism, Facebook’s reorientation would snatch away a source of revenue that many news outlets still rely on. “Although the fruit Facebook offered to publishers may have been poisoned, the reach — and, in some cases, ad revenue — it provided has become a staple of many media business models.”

+ Noted: Spirited Media is selling off its local sites and pivoting to consulting (Nieman Lab); “PBS NewsHour” is expanding with its first West Coast bureau (Los Angeles Times); Meet the spring cohort of Poynter’s 2019 Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media (Poynter); U.S. cancels Finnish journalist’s “Woman of Courage” Award over her criticism of Trump (Foreign Policy)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of Factually (formerly “The Week in Fact-Checking”): Anti-vaxxing conspiracies are drawing scrutiny in Washington; tracing the origins of the “Momo challenge” hoax; and could Facebook’s new direction make it harder for fact-checkers to find and debunk misinformation?


How KPCC is tackling voter participation through audience-driven reporting (Medium, LAist/KPCC)

In 2016 Southern California’s public radio station KPCC embarked on its human voter guide project, which helps LA voters get answers to basic (and not-so-basic) questions around elections. “We basically created the voter’s version of the Butterball Turkey Hotline,” writes Ashley Alvarado. In 2018 and into this year, the station is upping its game. A task force of KPCC staffers set out to streamline the web presence of the project, consolidating answers to top questions in one digital post. They’re also using web-based engagement platform Hearken and the text-messaging engagement service GroundSource to track a larger volume of questions and text election-related reminders to interested listeners. “Efforts resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of questions we got, and helped us break news,” wrote Alvarado. KPCC is now thinking about using the same framework to help residents connect with local government to get their daily problems solved.

+ Related: The Minneapolis Star Tribune experimented with calendar invites to remind readers of important dates related to the midterm elections (Lenfest Institute); Project templates from 15 newsrooms using GroundSource for their engagement projects (GroundSource)  

+ To celebrate International Women’s Day  —  cite a female (communication) scholar (Medium, Nikki Usher)


Media companies on notice over traumatized journalists after landmark court decision (The Conversation)

In a decision that is expected to have international consequences for newsrooms, an Australian court ruled last week that The Age, a Melbourne-based newspaper, must award a staff reporter $180,000 for the psychological injury she suffered during the decade she worked there. The reporter said her repeated exposure to traumatic events in the course of her reporting had a serious impact on her mental health, and her employer failed to provide coping support. “This is a historic judgment — the first time in the world, to my knowledge, that a news organisation has been found liable for a reporter’s occupational PTSD,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

+ Earlier: Anticipating the daily traumas of local reporting (Columbia Journalism Review)


Wisdom at work: why the modern elder is relevant (Knowledge@Wharton)

In the last few decades, several trends converged that made it more common for employees to have younger managers. One catalyst is the shift from seniority-based promotions toward those based on merit, according to a research article in the Journal of Organizational Behavior. Also, as the pace of technology innovation increases, companies promote more tech-savvy younger workers into supervisory jobs. Meanwhile, older workers are staying employed longer due to such things as the disappearance of early retirement schemes. As generational divides widen, younger employees may chafe at their older colleagues’ different leadership styles and values, says author Chip Conley. But while power is moving to younger people because of organizations’ increasing reliance on digital intelligence, it’s important not to undervalue what older employees bring to the table — for example, emotional intelligence and long-term organizational knowledge. “I also think collaboration is going to become more important, so those collaborative skills are a really important thing that someone in midlife or later can bring to the table.”


The DNC was wrong to exclude Fox News from hosting upcoming presidential candidate debates (Poynter)

The Democratic National Committee made the controversial announcement Wednesday that Fox News will be excluded from hosting any of its upcoming presidential candidate debates, citing a recent New Yorker story that chronicles the close relationship between Fox News and President Trump. “The DNC should reconsider,” writes Poynter’s Tom Jones. “To throw down the gauntlet over one debate a year before the Democrats pick a candidate and a year-and-a-half from the 2020 presidential election seems petty and a little paranoid … Fox News has enough capable and fair journalists — starting with [Chris] Wallace and [Bret] Baier — who can be trusted to do a fair job.” The move could also prompt Republicans to retaliate by excluding networks they feel are biased against them, Jones points out; further widening the divide between liberals and conservatives and the news sources they’re allegiant to.  

+ Related: The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan’s take on the DNC announcement: “It’s time — high time — to take Fox News’s destructive role in America seriously” (Washington Post)


Laurene Powell Jobs on the future of news (Recode)

Like her fellow billionaires Marc Benioff and Jeff Bezos, Laurene Powell Jobs has been investing in media: The company she started in 2004, the Emerson Collective, invested in Axios and Gimlet and has bought the Atlantic and the California Sunday Magazine, which also produces the influential Pop-Up Magazine. But in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Powell Jobs said that she thinks the future of news won’t entirely be owned by rich people, and will instead look more like a “public good that should be supported by public and private entities.” And she rebuffed the person who seems least interested in preserving the press, President Trump, calling his attacks on the media “right out of a dictator’s playbook.”

+ CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King shares her reaction with correspondent Kenneth Craig about her explosive exchange with R&B singer R. Kelly. She describes how she remained calm during the contentious exchange and how she struck a balance during the interview. (Twitter, @CBSThisMorning)


+ “We are just inundated with troubling and divisive news day in and day out. I think it was just a way to offer a little antidote to the realities of the day” — These newspapers added a print section on good news (Poynter)

+ Reporters at The Oregonian wanted readers to understand the difference between a .05 blood alcohol level and a .08, the new legal limit in Oregon. So they rolled up their sleeves, invited the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to the newsroom, and cracked open a few beers. (The Oregonian)

+ What was the happiest day on the internet this decade? From Double Rainbow Guy to the Ellen Selfie to the Dress, let’s take a pseudoscientific journey through the past nine years of internet history to determine the single best day to be online (The Ringer)