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Need to Know: May 10, 2018

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


You might have heard: At the time of Matt Lauer’s firing, NBC Chairman Andy Lack said that he had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident” and NBC News faces skepticism that it can reform in-house sexual harassment amid more accusations against Lauer and newer accusations against Tom Brokaw

But did you know: NBC’s Matt Lauer investigation finds ‘no evidence’ leadership knew of complaints (Politico)

An internal NBC investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Today show host Matt Lauer “found no evidence” that leadership at the network or show received any complaints about the ousted personality’s “workplace behavior” prior to November. Additionally, the report found, “All four women who came forward confirmed that they did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters with Lauer.” The investigation, launched in November and led by NBCUniversal general counsel Kim Harris, comes amid increased scrutiny over the network’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. The probe included interviews with nearly 70 current and former NBC staffers, including former executives Steve Capus, Jim Bell and Pat Fili-Krushel, and focused on the allegations of four women who came forward late last year.

+ Noted: ESPN discontinues public editor position (ESPN Front Row); The New York Times is partnering with FX and Hulu on a new TV show, “The Weekly”, based on its popular podcast The Daily (CNNMoney); Sinclair Broadcast Group agrees to sell seven TV stations to Fox (The San Diego Union-Tribune); Google News gets an update, with more AI-driven curation, more labeling, more reader controls (Nieman Lab); Internal emails show that executives at conservative Salem Media Group pressured radio hosts to be more pro-Trump amid 2016’s election (CNNMoney)



Oh, so that’s what a funnel is (Poynter)

The concept of a reader funnel, from casual reader to converted subscriber, is becoming pretty popular in newsrooms that are trying to better understand and attract audiences, writes Kristen Hare. Erica Smith, online editor and director of digital strategy at The Virginian-Pilot, says the funnel has made the Pilot figure out what metrics matter the most at each level, and it helped them see which ones they weren’t tracking. “Now that we’re doing that, it’s easier to declare victories on big and little things. Our strategy is much more focused. Our goals are clearer and something we talk about more openly.”

+ How to funnel occasional users to habitual and paying loyalists: A primer, strategic tools, and other resources (Better News)

+ How The Economist’s new app tries to keep people from unsubscribing (Digiday); Facebook Live will now allow publishers crosspost live video across pages and use persistent stream keys for easier setup (Facebook)


The global threat to free media: Four ways governments have undermined narratives of truth (Poynter)

As journalists lose their jobs and their industry has shrunk, the privilege of who actually gets to tell stories is up for grabs, writes James Rose. Governments, like corporations, have found ways to game the vacuum, ensuring their agendas and narratives are secured, unfiltered and unexamined. As a result, the ability of global citizens to make informed decisions is severely impaired. There are four basic ways this is being done, Rose writes: Bullying the media, lampooning the media, owning the media, and co-opting the media.

+ The Qatari government has sought to acquire a major stake in Newsmax, the conservative media company run by President Donald Trump’s friend Chris Ruddy (Politico); FakEU roundup: Strategy emerges to fight misinformation, establish guidelines (Poynter)


Snapchat is on a charm offensive to win the love of influencers: Inside the Snapchat Creators Summit where 13 users met Evan Spiegel (Digiday)

The two-day Snapchat Creators Summit welcomed 13 people who have dedicated a part of their lives to the app. While Snapchat has brought many of them financial success and celebrity status, the company had kept these homegrown stars at bay. As Snapchat strives to compete against Facebook’s Instagram and faces its own slowing user growth, that resistance to embrace influencers has disappeared. “It wasn’t just all fun and games. We basically said, ‘Most of the people’s views are down. What can you do to help us? We haven’t seen a lot of support,’” said Cyrene Quiamco, AKA CyreneQ. “They actually had plans, and they got to show a lot of it.” The attendees walked in with grievances and came out knowing parts of Snapchat’s product road map.

+ Facebook is making its biggest executive shuffle in company history — who’s who again? (Recode); After founding Twitter and Medium, Ev Williams wants to fix the Internet (The New York Times)


Essay: Why Americans are afraid to talk to reporters (Zócalo Public Square)

Understanding how non-journalists see the news media is an essential step in rebuilding public trust. And in fact, one of the most striking lessons Ruth Palmer says she learned from speaking to citizen news sources is how differently they tend to see journalists from how journalists tend to see themselves. “My interviewees mostly thought of journalists not primarily as citizens’ defenders against powerful people and institutions, but as powerful people and institutions in their own right.”

+ Do media executives deserve the lavish pay packages they rake in — and what are those packages, really? (Variety); Matt Drudge: “I fear” Trump’s attacks on media will result in “licensing of all reporters” (Mediaite); The CEO of GateHouse’s parent company on why “efficiencies of scale” can work (NPR)



‘Why I revealed that Tom Brokaw harassed me’ (The Washington Post)

“I am the woman who came forward last month to accuse NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw of sexual misconduct. Let me explain why,” writes Linda Vester, former NBC and Fox News journalist. “I am not filing a lawsuit; I am not asking NBC or Brokaw for money. I came forward for a simple reason: to let the public know that otherwise good men — men who treat women well or are even their champions — can also commit acts of sexual harassment. I did not feel like confronting Brokaw in private would accomplish my objective of demonstrating to other victims — past, present or future — that it is safe to come forward with their own accounts of harassment in the workplace.”

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