Need to Know: May 24, 2018

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


You might have heard: CBS and Viacom want to merge (Recode), AT&T wants to merge with Time Warner (CNNMoney), and Comcast says it is in the advanced stages of preparing an all-cash offer for parts of 21st Century Fox that Rupert Murdoch’s company agreed to sell to Disney (CNBC)

But did you know: Here’s who owns everything in Big Media today (Recode)

The media landscape used to be straightforward: Content companies (studios) made stuff (TV shows and movies) and sold it to pay TV distributors, who sold it to consumers. Now things are up for grabs: Netflix buys stuff from the studios, but it’s making its own stuff, too, and it’s selling it directly to consumers. That’s one of the reasons older media companies are trying to compete by consolidating. And new distributors like Verizon and AT&T are getting in on the action. Meanwhile, giant tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple that used to be on the sidelines are getting closer and closer to the action. To help sort this all out, Recode created a diagram that organizes distributors, content companies and internet video companies by market cap and their main lines of business.

+ Noted: Meredith is talking with about 15 serious potential buyers for Time, Fortune, Money, and Sports Illustrated (Vanity Fair); Reporters from CNN, Politico and other outlets have been banned from covering the EPA summit for a second day (CNNMoney); District court judge rules President Trump can’t block people from viewing his Twitter feed, calling it a designated public forum protected by the First Amendment (The Hill); Facebook outlines new steps to combat false news (Wired); Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacqui Banaszynski joins Nieman Storyboard as editor (Nieman Foundation); Sinclair is laying the groundwork for a Fox News competitor (The Hollywood Reporter)


Six small papers collaborated to cover the opioid crisis in Long Island (Poynter)

Six news organizations showed up to cover a candlelight vigil in Hampton Bays, New York, earlier this month. They came from three different media companies and included newspapers and weeklies. And, for the first time, they were there to work together. On their own, these publications couldn’t cover the whole story, said Times Review Executive Editor Steve Wick.  “So we decided for the first time to pool together,” Wick said. Last week, their coverage of that vigil and how the opioid epidemic has hit eastern Long Island launched the East End News Project.

+ How The New York Times chose parenting as its third standalone product (Poynter)


Politicians in Europe are still arguing about what fake news is and what to do about it (Poynter)

The French Constitutional Council published its opinion on the law against misinformation drafted by President Emmanuel Macron’s government earlier this year. While recognizing the need for new legislative measures to combat the growing threat of online misinformation, the council specified that new legislation should exclusively target fake news that is “intentionally spread.” The Minister of Culture discussed the issue of disinformation in Strasbourg together with the law’s rapporteur Bruno Studer. Both insisted that, besides regulatory measures, “media literacy will play a fundamental role” in the future of the battle against fake news. Likewise, fending off criticism, Studer explained that “freedom of expression” remains a pivotal principle of the country’s constitution.

+ Why we work with Facebook and Google (European Journalism Centre); Egypt detains prominent blogger and activist Wael Abbas, and sources say he faces accusations of “disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group” (BBC)


Impatient, distracted consumers continue to upend the media landscape (Axios)

Americans are increasingly picky, impatient, distracted and demanding — and their media diets are changing so fast that most traditional industries can no longer keep up. The modern consumer has completely reshaped advertising, content creation and consumption. Most media companies, advertising agencies, and telecom companies either didn’t see it coming, saw it and ignored it, or acted too late. At the heart of the on-demand economy is a user that wants choice, and they want to watch their favorite shows at any time, on any device. This has made users so impatient and distracted (A majority of people — 58% — say also say they browse the internet while watching video programming, per Nielsen).


A U.S. journalist took thousands of ISIS files out of Iraq, reigniting a bitter dispute over the theft of Iraqi history (The Intercept)

Over the last four years, journalists, analysts, and local activists from Iraq and Syria have written about ISIS documents, including some that were taken from the countries in which they were found. But New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi appears to be the first journalist to obtain and remove a cache of documents this large. Callimachi traveled to Iraq when coalition forces launched a battle to retake Mosul from ISIS in late 2016. There, she was on the front lines, rushing into buildings that were cleared of the militants and stuffing documents and hard drives into trash bags she had brought with her. But her story, and her new ‘Caliphate’ podcast, which is based in part on the documents she obtained, have set off a controversy about outsiders taking historically important documents out of a country at war.

+ “No one thinks this is a good idea”: Some frustrated publishers are sitting out Google’s GDPR meetings (Digiday)


‘This deepening division is not inevitable’: The failing diversity efforts of newsrooms (Columbia Journalism Review)

While we are commemorating prominent Civil Rights–era events, including the the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., questions persist about newsroom staffing, writes Farai Chideya. The American Society of News Editors’ stated goal in 1978 to steadily bring newsroom diversity numbers to parity with national averages has not been met, despite the demographic shift in America’s racial and ethnic makeup. The ASNE’s annual newsroom diversity survey shows that Latino and non-whites made up 12 percent of newspaper editorial staff in 2000, and by 2016 that figure had edged up only slightly, to 17 percent. The US population is currently 38 percent Latino or non-white, more than double the percentage found in newsrooms.