Need to Know: May 25, 2018

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


You might have heard: Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation takes effect today May 25, and news publishers have been among those preparing (Nieman Lab)

But did you know:  Some US news sites are blocked to EU users over data protection rules (BBC)

Although GDPR applies most directly to companies based in the European Union, the regulation also covers European users of companies not in Europe, such as U.S. news sites who may have readers inside Europe. This report describes how a number of high-profile U.S. news websites are temporarily unavailable in Europe after the rules came into effect. News sites within the Tronc and Lee Enterprises media publishing groups are among those affected — e.g., Tronc’s message on high-profile sites like the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times reads, “Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market.”

+ Some publishers are expected to have particular difficulty with GDPR. Writes Jessica Davies, “Bluntly speaking, any business that doesn’t have a direct relationship with users is in for a difficult time.” (Digiday)

+ Noted: Publishers have stopped Facebook ad spending over Facebook’s new political ads policy, noting concerns it treats journalism on political issues the same as political advertising (Digiday, Facebook); BuzzFeed’s new Hollywood chapter will open with a documentary about R. Kelly for Hulu; the site is also considering “focused subscription products” as part of revenue diversification (Bloomberg); Snap is launching an accelerator to invest in startups or creators that want to build media projects for mobile devices (Recode); The Coral Project, incubated by the Mozilla Foundation, is looking for a new home (The Coral Project)


The week in fact-checking

As part of our fact-checking journalism project, Jane Elizabeth and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. This week’s round-up includes fact-checking partnerships in Brazil, a report that looks at how people interpret the news the same way they interpret the Bible, and a Belgian political party’s posting of a deepfake video of President Trump.


Here’s how the subscriber funnel — or whatever you want to call it — works (Poynter)

What work actually goes into each level of a subscriber funnel? Gwen Vargo, director of reader revenue at the American Press Institute, breaks it down into four sections: Awareness, Engagement, Conversion and Retention. “Awareness” is where people are first engaging with you or seeing you. If subscriptions and memberships are long-term relationships, the “engagement” level is where those relationships start to get a bit more serious. “Conversion” is where the newsroom and tech/marketing have to work together. And the “retention” level is where the journalism itself becomes especially critical.

+ Related: More resources and strategies for consumer revenue we’ve gathered at Better News


Inside the BBC’s ‘innovation incubator’ (Medium, BBC News Labs)

“We often describe News Labs as the BBC’s ‘innovation incubator.’ It’s a good description of our role in the corporation, but it doesn’t give [anyone] …  a clear idea of what our team does every day in the BBC’s Broadcasting House,” according to the BBC News Labs’ post. “So we decided to take a snapshot of a typical day in the office, as seen from the desks of seven of our developers, engineers and producers. Only a few of us specialise in one subject area, so each view is representative of the work that could land on any Labber’s desk during one of our project sprints. At the end of a two-month project cycle, we reshuffle our teams and start prototyping our next set of ideas. These generally fall into two categories: new tools to help journalists produce better content, or new news formats for BBC audiences.”


These are 4 different work styles and how to work with each (Fast Company)

Ever wonder why you have great chemistry with some colleagues and butt heads with others? It comes down to your working style, says Kim Christfort, coauthor of Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships. “Some people like risks, others prefer rules. Some want consensus, while others want to win,” Christfort says. “Think of these traits as magnetically charged particles. Some cluster together and attract while others spread apart and repel. Identifying everyone’s pattern can help you work better together.” Using a data-based approach, Christfort and her coauthor, social-personality psychologist Suzanne M. Johnson, identified four primary working styles that are based on how people interact: pioneers, guardians, drivers, and integrators.


If news organizations embrace engagement, will money follow? (GroundSource, Medium)

The potential connection between revenue and engagement is a hot topic in journalism right now, for good reason, writes Sara Catania. Whether and how the news media, long beholden to increasingly unreliable scale-based, ad-driven business models can find success with high-touch membership and subscription approaches “optimized” for virtues like loyalty and trust is the big question of the day. Engagement  —  however you might define it  —  suggests a rosetta stone, a solution that unlocks other solutions and, possibly, a financially sustainable path for media.


Indian Country Today returns. Can it protect its editorial independence? (Columbia Journalism Review)

A reinvented Indian Country Today recently announced its return after a nine-month hiatus. The National Congress of American Indians acquired the site (formerly called Indian Country Today Media Network) via donation from the Oneida Nation in February, and restored its original name. The NCAI appointed Mark Trahant — a 60-year-old veteran of the legacy and Native American presses and a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe — as its executive editor. According to Trahant, ICT will launch its new leaner, mobile-focused version of its site, a longtime leading source of national Native American news, on June 4 during the NCAI Mid-Year Conference in Kansas City.


+ A few reads following Elon Musk’s tweets on journalism and trust, including a musing on building a service to rate the credibility of specific journalists and news outlets: Molly Roberts writes that “This is peak Silicon Valley” (Washington Post); BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith writes about Musk in context of “the push for what’s called ‘media literacy,’ much of it focused on schools,” saying, “what about Musk?” (BuzzFeed;) and Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis writes four serious questions about Elon Musk’s silly credibility score (Poynter)

+ The risky business of speaking for Trump: Interviews with White House communications staffers Hogan Gidley and Sarah Sanders, who have linked their integrity to a president not known for accuracy (The New York Times)

+ In local news assessment: A new report from Duke’s Philip Napoli, Rugers’ Ian Dunham and Democracy Fund’s Jessica Mahone presents the results of a comparative analysis of the news media infrastructure in all 50 U.S. states (The Future of Local News) and the Knight Foundation continues its look at local TV news, this time who’s watching local TV (Medium, Informed and Engaged)

+ A Q&A with the Tow Center’s Emily Bell on news organizations and platforms: “A number of social first news organisations have learned a tough lesson in the past couple of years, namely that you cannot build your business on someone else’s land without significant risk.” (Global Editors’ Network)