Need to Know: May 1, 2018
Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism
But did you know: White House correspondents think about changing dinner for Trump era (CNNMoney)
The White House Correspondents Association is belatedly accepting the fact that its annual dinner changes dramatically when the president isn’t there. Now there is a debate among the association’s members about possibly changing the format and the tone of future dinners. The proximate reason for the debate: President Trump’s snubbing of the association for a second straight year and Michelle Wolf’s performance at Saturday night’s dinner. But this debate predates Saturday night. Aspects of the dinner have been controversial for decades. The dinner is a key date on Washington’s social calendar. But its organizers admit that it needs to be rethought in an age of increasing political polarization and constant attacks on the media.
+ Related: CBS News executives were so dismayed by WHCD this year they considered withdrawing from future events, or until WHCD said changes are being considered (The New York Times); “I think having the ability to laugh at yourself is important,” says Michelle Wolf (NPR’s Fresh Air)
+ Noted: Twitter announces 30 new or renewed video content deals and live programming from ESPN, NBCUniversal and more (Variety); NYT metro editor Wendell Jamieson resigns following ‘investigation’ (Gothamist); Here’s the new class of Knight-Wallace Fellows at the University of Michigan (University of Michigan) and here’s the new class of JSK Fellows at Stanford (JSK Fellowships); Advance Local will use The Washington Post’s Arc publishing platform (The Washington Post); Google’s proposal to comply with new EU data protection regulations ‘severely falls short,’ says a joint letter from Digital Content Next, European Publishers Council, the News Media Association and News Media Alliance (which is affiliated with API) (MarTech Today)
When the needle flies off the analytics dial, a few likely culprits come to mind. “When we’re not getting Drudged or writing about AP Style changes, the most frequent source of any unexpected spike is Reddit,” Ren LaForme writes about Poynter.org. LaForme says he’s spent a lot of time trying to find ways to capitalize on it. He says, however, that chasing spikes is an unsustainable way to approach traffic. It’s better to build a smaller, loyal audience that visits a site with frequency than it is to chase viral stories. But news organizations like the Washington Post have proven that real audience engagement is possible on Reddit. Though the Post’s primary goal with Reddit isn’t to drive traffic, it often does.
Malaysia is among the first few countries to legislate policing of fake news. The charge against Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman said he had “with ill intent, published fake news through a video on YouTube.” Sulaiman, who was unrepresented at the court hearing, pleaded guilty, but said the video was posted in a “moment of anger” and he did not mean any harm. “I agreed I made a mistake … I seriously apologize to everybody in Malaysia, not just in the Malaysian police,” said Sulaiman, a Danish citizen of Yemeni descent.
+ Tehran court orders Iranian telecoms to block Telegram saying the app gave Islamic State “safe ground” and also citing the app’s role in recent protests (Wall Street Journal); Australia’s ABC to restructure its eight capital-city newsrooms for digital and multi-platform journalism, and about 20 jobs will be cut as new roles are created (The Guardian)
The issues that many philanthropic groups are fighting are results of systemic, institutionalized racism, from unfair housing practices to inequitable education, writes Ben Paynter. Which begs the question: What are philanthropic groups doing to make sure they’ve eliminated similar (albeit perhaps unintentional) inequalities and bias within their own organizations? Even once you’ve acknowledged it’s a problem, figuring out how to fix it it is another, perhaps even more complicated issue. Rather than focus on achieving just more diversity, Equity in the Center, an initiative from the nonprofit social sector talent development group ProInspire, has focused on how to create organizational racial equity. Diverse hiring practices are a good start, but don’t automatically change a predominantly white workplace culture.
Claim: ‘The audience engagement industry struggles with measuring success’ (Columbia Journalism Review)
Audience “engagement” has many interpretations, writes Jacob L. Nelson, all stemming from one underlying belief: that journalists better serve their audience when explicitly focus on how their audiences interact with and respond to the news. The excitement surrounding this term has resulted in a growing industry providing engagement tools and services to newsrooms. Nelson alleges that what’s missing is empirical evidence of what engagement delivers. In research for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Nelson embedded with some of these companies to explore how they define success, what obstacles they face, and what their offerings mean for journalism’s relationship to the public.
+ Responses: “This article is a real disappointment — it ignores all kinds of data, research and work happening in audience engagement. Hearken has lots of data (not cited here) about how their stories consistently outperform non-Hearken stories, plus a revenue study w/ @BitchMedia,” tweets Molly de Aguiar; “The business of measuring and valuing audience engagement in journalism is in its very early days. There are lots of challenges to tracking data, getting it, and proving [out] the theory. But luckily @wearehearken now has proof,” tweets Hearken founder Jennifer Brandel, along with a link to numerous case studies.
Two Colorado State University-Pueblo undergraduate students presented a paper, which addresses a growing concern among fact-checkers, journalists and technology companies grappling with how to address online misinformation, at The Web Conference. In March, Snopes — one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners — debunked a story from a satirical site about CNN and a washing machine and flagged it on Facebook, lowering its reach. The move sparked an outcry, and Facebook later reversed the decision. The debacle led to some interesting questions: Should satire be included in fact-checkers’ efforts to debunk misinformation? What’s the difference between the two, and how should they be distinguished? In Schoenthaler and Bedard’s study, they found that the latter two questions have something to do with reader demographics.
+ Would you watch a show based on the New York Times crossword puzzle? (AdWeek); In Trump era, the death of the White House press conference (The Associated Press)