Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: May 17, 2018

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: The FCC repealed Obama era ‘Net Neutrality’ rules for internet providers

But did you know: The Senate approves a resolution to nullify the FCC’s net neutrality rollback (NPR)

Though the Senate narrowly voted to block FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s repeal of net neutrality rules, the resolution next heads to the House, where it faces long odds. The legislative victory will likely be fleeting because the House does not intend to take similar action, but Democrats are planning to carry the political fight over Internet access into the 2018 midterms. Critics of the FCC rollback say they’re worried about consumers being forced to pay more for less consistent or slower service. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, part of the Republican majority, has said the Obama rule was “heavy-handed” and isn’t needed.

+ Related: Profile of Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman who orchestrated the net neutrality repeal and a nerdy conservative ideologue reviled by some and cast as a hero by others (Wired)

+ Noted: Peter Kafka has been named executive editor of Recode, with Kara Swisher taking up the role of editor-at-large (Talking Biz News); 21st Century Fox announces Lachlan Murdoch will be chairman and CEO of the “new” Fox, with Rupert Murdoch as co-chairman and John Nallen as COO (21st Century Fox); The Texas Tribune is launching a Facebook group for college students (Texas Tribune); CNN will trim commercials in Jake Tapper shows (Variety); McCormick Media extends deadline to pay $209 million for Tronc shares (New York Post)

TRY THIS AT HOME

Deepfakes, misinformation, and what journalists can do about them (Columbia Journalism Review)

Nothing online is quite as it appears, now less than ever. Thanks to a new breed of neural network machine-learning algorithms, compelling yet fictitious video, images, voice, and text can be synthesized, writes Nicholas Diakopoulos. So what happens when the public can no longer trust any media they encounter online? Dire as the case may be, it could offer a great comeback opportunity for mainstream media. Few intermediaries are better placed to function as trusted validators and assessors of mediated reality than professionally trained journalists with access to advanced forensics tools. To capture this opportunity, journalists and news organizations should pursue strategies like forensics training, technical tool development, and process standardization and transparency.

+ AP style tips for the royal wedding (lowercase r, lowercase w) (Poynter); The Center for Cooperative Media launched a newsletter to help you localize national news stories (Medium, The Center for Cooperative Media)

OFFSHORE

In Western Europe, trust in news media varies more widely between populist/non-populist views than between left/right politics (Pew Research)

In Western Europe, public views of the news media are divided by populist leanings — more than left-right political positions — according to a new Pew Research Center public opinion survey conducted in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Across all eight countries, those who hold populist views value and trust the news media less, and they also give the media lower marks for coverage of major issues, such as immigration, the economy and crime.

+ Kenya’s president signs cybercrimes law opposed by media rights groups (Reuters)

OFFBEAT

How betting will change the sports media business (The New York Times)

The sports television industry is struggling. There is an onslaught of competition from streaming services, video games, social networks and mobile phones. Fans can’t see the vast majority of games without an expensive cable subscription, and millions are opting to “cut the cord” or never install one. But the Supreme Court ruled Monday to strike down a federal law that largely prohibited sports betting. The ruling is likely to produce the next major boost to the value of live, televised sports, industry executives and experts say, at just the time when it is most needed.

UP FOR DEBATE

Is a ‘funnel’ even the right concept for building audiences? (Poynter)

People have a lot of feelings about funnels, writes Kristen Hare. “Personally, I started off thinking of my work as a funnel, but I think the better metaphor is an hourglass,” Hare says. “I write daily stories and a newsletter … which leads to some context and analysis, which often turns into public speaking and teaching, which helps me meet people in different newsrooms and (now turn the hourglass over) it all begins again. This is how I’ve come to think of how all the different things I do are connected.” The American Press Institute’s Jane Elizabeth prefers a waterslide metaphor because “people start at different points but end in the same great place.” And others provide more funnel alternatives: the river delta, an escalator, a ladder, a sift and more.

+ Related: In the pivot to paid, publishers fear the churn spiral (Digiday)

SHAREABLE

The platform patrons: How Facebook and Google became two of the biggest funders of journalism in the world (Columbia Journalism Review)

Taken together, Facebook and Google have now committed more than half a billion dollars to various journalistic programs and media partnerships over the past three years, not including the money spent internally on developing media-focused products. The result: These mega-platforms are now two of the largest funders of journalism in the world. It is a somewhat dysfunctional alliance, writes Mathew Ingram. People in the media business see the tech donations as guilt money, something journalism deserves because Google and Facebook wrecked their business. The tech giants, meanwhile, are desperate for some good PR and maybe even a few friends in a journalistic community that can seem openly antagonistic.

+ Lois Lane is a better reporter than anyone gives her credit for (Poynter)

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