Need to Know: May 15, 2015

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


You might have heard: Apollo’s acquisition of Digital First Media was nearing completion in April, and Gannett will acquire 10 DFM papers

But did you know: Apollo is withdrawing from its bid for Digital First Media (Capital New York)
Apollo Global Management will no longer acquire Digital First Media for $400 million, a price Ken Doctor said had been wavering in the last several months. DFM CEO John Paton says the company will not be sold to a single buyer, and Doctor says papers will likely be sold in regional clusters and even individually. Paton says there will be “a horse-trading of assets,” and to expect both selling and buying by DFM.

+ Noted: Facebook Instant Articles could arrive for local news in “the coming months” (Columbia Journalism Review); Washington Post’s website hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army, and the Post says no customer information was compromised (Washington Post); TheStreet is experimenting with a “freemium” model for its subscription service (Folio); New York Times is considering Jonathan Mahler, David Folkenflik or Sarah Ellison as a replacement for David Carr’s media column (Variety); As interest in international travel grows, Lonely Planet will launch its first U.S. magazine (AdWeek)


The week in fact-checking
As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth highlights stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the internet. This week’s round-up includes faux fact-checks from politicians, the importance of fact-checking in comedy, and whether a Mississippi politician started mispronouncing his own name.


How The New York Times planned the digital strategy for its nail salon exposé (New York Times)
Early on, The New York Times’ metro desk decided that Sarah Maslin Nir’s nail salon exposé should be translated into Korean, Chinese and Spanish to reach the audiences in the story, but a digital strategy was also needed to reach those audiences. Twitter and Facebook posts were written in those languages, written by interpreters who had helped Nir throughout her reporting and read again by native speakers in the NYT newsroom. These posts were then geotargeted on Facebook and Twitter to make it to the audiences who speak these languages, with the Korean edition performing especially well.

+ “Quartz is an API”: Instead of publishing once and sending it everywhere, Zach Seward says Quartz can go wherever its readers go, in whatever format is appropriate (Nieman Lab)


Colombian newspapers fail to stop news aggregating website from using their content (Journalism in the Americas)
A Colombian government agency that controls unfair competition and consumers’ rights denied a request from a group of 11 Colombian newspapers to stop a news aggregator website from using their content. Newspapers including El Colombiano, El Tiempo and El País requested precautionary measures against, a website that launched in December 2013 and describes itself as a curator and content aggregator.’s director Guillermo Franco says the website adds value for users by “telling the reader, ‘This is what we think is important.’”


More than half of all mobile location data is incorrect (StreetFight)
A new report from mobile advertising company Thinknear shows that the quality of location data is starting to decline. Thinknear’s report found that only 37 percent of location data used to target mobile ads is accurate within 100 meters of the user’s true location, and over half of location data is not accurate within 1,000 meters. Location-targeted ad inventory has doubled in the last year, and without accurate location information, publishers will often substitute less accurate data such as ZIP code data or cached information.


After disclosing $75,000 contribution to Clinton Foundation, George Stephanopoulos won’t recuse himself from campaign coverage (Politico)
ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos says he never should have donated money to the Clinton Foundation and will not moderate ABC News’ Republican primary debate, but will not be recusing himself from coverage of the presidential campaign. ABC News issued a statement of support for Stephanopoulos and said it will take no punitive action against him. Stephanopoulos says: “At the time I did not perceive the problem, but in retrospect … I should have gone above and beyond any guidelines to make sure that there wouldn’t be any appearance of any conflict.”

+ Stephanopoulos’ role in the 2016 election coverage is much less certain now (Huffington Post) and Erik Wemple: Donations are a clear conflict of interest for an anchor such as Stephanopoulos (Washington Post)


How The Washington Post live-streamed the creation of Wednesday night’s sports page on Periscope (Washington Post)
On Wednesday night, thousands of people watched the creation of the next day’s sports page on Periscope, asking questions and giving suggestions. The live-stream, which had 9,200 viewers, was a spur of the moment idea, and the Post is planning more opportunities to use Periscope in the future. Designer Dan Worthington says: “It was a chance to show the readers the process and how we work as a team to produce this thing 365 times a year.”

+ As revenues from podcast advertising grow, NPR’s board questions the effect on radio ad sales (Current)

+ Ken Doctor: Thin profit margins cut into newsrooms’ chances for innovation (Newsonomics)


+ One year after replacing Jill Abramson, Dean Baquet reflects on the past year at NYT: “Not enough people know how good we are, how well we’re doing financially, and how bright the future looks for us” (New York Times)

+ Venture capitalists are moving into media, blurring the lines between start-ups and journalism: “[Journalism start-ups] do fine work, but they haven’t been able to make up for the industry’s decade-long attrition, and journalism’s stubborn dependence on advertising gives prospective funders ample reason to doubt their long-term viability” (The Baffler)

+ Fast Company’s 2015 list of the 100 most creative people in business, including BuzzFeed publisher Dao Nguyen “for turning LOLs into a media empire” (Fast Company)

+ The “promise and peril” of solutions journalism: “Is solutions journalism helping readers better understand what’s really going on in education than traditional journalism, or is it a heavy-handed attempt by outside funders to promote a specific policy agenda and hide problems and mistakes?” (Washington Monthly)