Need to Know: May 21, 2018

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


You might have heard: Time, Fortune, and Money have reportedly drawn bids close to $200 million each (New York Post)

But did you know: More than two dozen editors and writers who worked at Time Inc. reflect on the company’s rise to prominence and its slow decline that began about a decade ago (The New York Times)

“It was once an empire,” write Sridhar Pappu and Jay Stowe. “Now it is being sold for parts.” In 1922 Henry R. Luce and Briton Hadden began Time Inc. with a simple but revolutionary idea. The two men were rookie reporters at The Baltimore News when they drew up a prospectus for something called a “news magazine.” Starting about a decade ago, though, the company began a slow decline that has resulted in the Meredith Corp. completing its purchase of the once-grand Time Inc. for $2.8 billion. Pappu and Stowe spoke to more than two dozen editors and writers who worked at Time Inc., asking them to reflect on the heyday of this former epicenter of power and influence, as well as its decline.

+ Noted: Facebook says its Instagram Stories has hit 150 million daily active users (TechCrunch); Google to hold talks with publishers over their GDPR concerns (Wall Street Journal) and WordPress poses another GDPR compliance headache for publishers (Digiday); A year into the Mueller investigation, falling ratings for CNN and Fox signal viewer burnout (The Guardian)



Best practices for covering mass shootings (Poynter)

Mental health experts are still trying to determine how media coverage of mass shooting events can contribute to a contagion effect, writes Kelly McBride. Journalists can make choices around the coverage that will minimize the impact. Here are some best practices: “Name the shooter infrequently and only when his name is critical to helping your audience understand what happened. As more information becomes available, be careful to be accurate and contextual. Small details can take on inappropriate levels of importance in the early reporting stages. Those details can be harmful to the truth if they are inaccurate or out of context.”

+ Related: Breaking news best practices: Reaching and interviewing witnesses and victims of trauma (Poynter)

+ Learn about an open-source mobile news app that smaller publishers can use, during a free livestream today at 10 a.m CDT (Reynolds Journalism Institute)


How the South China Morning Post is using verticals to expand its audience to the ‘globally curious’ (Nieman Lab)

If you concocted news sites in a lab for maximum hipness, high polish, and most evocative noun names, you’d get Abacus and Inkstone, writes Shan Wang. These separate verticals — new offshoots of the South China Morning Post — are highly designed, efficiently product-managed, and precisely targeted at the types of topics meticulous consumer surveys have determined news readers want more coverage on. Abacus covers tech in China broadly, and Inkstone is a daily digest on Chinese life and politics. “We’re building new brands, not just editorial products,” said SCMP CEO Gary Liu. “We’re taking a portfolio approach, similar to how Vox [Media] continues to grow.”

+ Inside Facebook’s deletion center in Berlin, where 1,200 people review posts violating the firm’s rules or German law and decide what is free speech or hate speech (The New York Times); The Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s “Royal Fascinator” is an experiment in limited-run newsletters (J-Source)


What happened to Facebook’s grand plan to wire the world through (Wired)

Five years ago Mark Zuckerberg debuted a bold, humanitarian vision of global internet. It didn’t go as planned — forcing Facebook to reckon with the limits of its own ambition. In many ways, the early mistakes Facebook made as it launched mirror the company’s current challenges, writes Jessi Hempel.” Facebook tried to present itself as a neutral party and suggested its actions were driven by altruism. But Facebook is inherently not neutral; its aim is profit.”

+ Vine follow-up V2 is dead, but Vine’s devoted forum-dwellers aren’t giving up (Polygon)


You call that breaking news? NPR’s ombudsman on the increasing frequency of push notifications (NPR)

NPR, like other news organizations, is in a fight for the attention of audiences. That means getting aggressive about putting NPR journalism where readers (and listeners) are, writes NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen. As a result, NPR has ramped up its push notifications. “I’m in the camp of wanting fewer news alerts from the many news outlets to which I subscribe,” writes Jensen. “I find that ‘breaking news’ tags have become so ubiquitous as to be increasingly meaningless, in many cases.” Cutting back is not in NPR’s future, however. Sara Kehaulani Goo, NPR’s managing editor overseeing digital operations, said the number of alerts is going to go up in the future, not down. “We feel that we can grow quite a bit in this area,” Goo said. “We’re actively looking for opportunities to promote our best journalism and storytelling.”

+ Jay Rosen: “Why does CNN continue to have Kellyanne Conway on?” (PressThink)


In Houston, journalists are sorting rumors from fact live on television (Poynter)

Journalists have become disturbingly experienced at covering mass shootings, writes Al Thompkins. KHOU in Houston smartly created a display to show what information the station has verified, what the station is still trying to check out and what false information is circulating. Tegna TV stations have developed the “verified” franchise as a fact-checking news segment, but this simple display where an anchor explains how the station has verified the information it is reporting is smart, clear and useful.

+ The Idahoan is run by a PAC veteran and some claim it is a political mailer, but deputy AG rules it is a newspaper under Idaho law (Columbia Journalism Review)