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Need to Know: May 15, 2018

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


You might have heard: Medium abruptly cancelled the membership programs of its 21 remaining subscription publisher partners (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Medium will ‘pay each of the affected publishers four month’s worth of any revenue they were making through this program’ (Columbia Journalism Review)

Last week Medium abruptly ended its membership product to focus fully on its own site-wide subscription model, which it offers for $5 a month. Of the 21 publishers who had paying members, 12 were bringing in less than $100 a month on memberships, and a handful of those publications had stopped regularly posting on Medium altogether, a spokesperson said. “To help smooth the transition,” Michael Sippey, Medium’s vice president of product said, “we will pay each of the affected publishers four month’s worth of any revenue they were making through this program. We’re reaching out to these publishers individually.”

+ Noted: Bill O’Reilly is in talks to return to cable news at Newsmax TV, one year after being forced out from Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations (Page Six); Omidyar Network grants De Correspondent $950,000 in runway funding, as the membership model outlet plans English-language launch (Medium, De Correspondent); Americans 25-34 years old spend 18.4 hours a week watching live TV while those 50-64 watch 39.6 hours (The New York Times); Reacting to plunging revenues, Salt Lake Tribune lays off a third of its newsroom (Salt Lake Tribune); CBS files lawsuit against majority shareholder Shari Redstone, accusing her of pressing for Viacom merger against wishes of CBS board members (Variety)


Here’s what you missed at two useful journalism conferences last week (Nieman Lab)

Two powerhouse gatherings in the journalism world happened last week, digging into topics from collaborative journalism to reader revenue. The ONA Insights event in Toronto featured keynotes on Vox Media’s editorial voice and blockchain in journalism with dives into newsletters, analytics, growth in international audience, and more. In New Jersey, the Center for Cooperative Media’s collaborators met to brainstorm about working together in journalism at the Collaborative Journalism Summit.

+ How bureaucratic language strangles journalism’s accountability (Poynter); How NowThis is looking beyond Facebook (Digiday)

A Q&A with The Guardian’s chief supporter officer (sort of) on selling journalism (Global Editors’ Network)

The Guardian reports that it is well on track with its three-year strategy to make itself sustainable and break even at operating level by 2018–19. Anna Bateson was appointed as the Guardian’s first ever chief customer officer in 2017. As part of her role, she takes global responsibility for the Guardian’s membership, subscription and contributions programs. Bateson joined the Guardian from Google, where she was director of global consumer marketing at YouTube. “Membership isn’t about perks,” says Bateson. “The desire to support our journalism, and the satisfaction in playing a part in the funding of the public service mission of quality journalism is the biggest motivation.”

+ Committee to Protect Journalists urges Kenyan president to not sign a bill that would target journalists, bloggers, and others with jail and fines for publishing “false” information (Committee to Protect Journalists); How WhatsApp is being used to spread misinformation, share fake polls, and exacerbate religious divides ahead of national elections in India (The New York Times)


Why Silicon Valley can’t fix itself (The Guardian)

After decades of rarely apologizing for anything, Silicon Valley suddenly seems to be apologizing for everything, write Ben Tarnoff and Moira Weigel. “They are sorry about the trolls. They are sorry about the bots. They are sorry about the fake news and the Russians, and the cartoons that are terrifying your kids on YouTube. But they are especially sorry about our brains.” Still, inside the industry, techno-utopianism prevailed. Silicon Valley seemed to assume that the tools they were building were always forces for good – and that anyone who questioned them was a crank or a luddite. In the face of an anti-tech backlash that has surged since the 2016 election, however, this faith appears to be faltering. Prominent people in the industry are beginning to acknowledge that their products may have harmful effects.


‘I’m not quoting enough women’ (The New York Times)

There is abundant evidence of sexism in our society, writes David Leonhardt. Women pay huge career penalties for having children. Women are more likely to be interrupted. … The list goes on and on. “It’s not that the cream has risen to the top and the cream is 100 percent male or 80 percent male,” Susan Hennessey, a national-security expert, told Leonhardt. “We’re failing to capture talent that exists.” All of which means that journalists aren’t being neutral if they just go about their business and pretend to ignore gender, adds Leonhardt. “They are allowing sexism to help dictate their sources — and are perpetuating the problem. The people who get quoted today, after all, are more likely to be invited onto a panel tomorrow and offered a sweet new job next year.”


It’s a good time to be a reporter covering Trump if you like money and going on TV (BuzzFeed)

“Reporters’ windfall has stemmed, in part, from a shift in strategy by CNN President Jeff Zucker and NBC News chairman Andy Lack, two old-school executives leading the major networks that supplement reporters’ income. Dinged by critics for featuring roundtables of talking heads, Zucker and Lack have been on a buying spree to sign reporters who break news to paid contributor contracts. That way, when the Washington Post or New York Times breaks a big Russia-Trump story — and they often do — their network will have exclusive access to the bylined reporter. In the hyper-competitive world of political television, the coin of the realm has become five magic words: ‘The author joins us now.’”

+ A look at Trump’s relationship with Sean Hannity and Fox News, with nightly conversations with the host and network coverage dictating the president’s agenda (New York Magazine);  The new rules when spies hack journalism (The New York Times); White House leakers leak about leaking (Axios)

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