Need to Know: May 29, 2018

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


You might have heard: Trump says The New York Times used “phony sources” in story citing a White House official (The New York Times)

But did you know: Trump called his own White House official fake — even though that official had given a briefing to dozens of reporters (Bustle)

According to The New York Times, the White House held the briefing off the record. For this reason, the Times only quoted “a senior White House official” rather than giving the official’s name. The Times also stated that over 50 people were present at the briefing, and a BuzzFeed reporter who signed on to the simultaneous conference called said in a tweet that more than 240 people were on the line when she joined. Trump’s lie was easily caught. “I was there. This was a background briefing given by a senior administration official in the briefing room!” reporter Brian Karem wrote on Twitter. “POTUS either has no idea what his own administration is doing, has lost his mind, doesn’t care, all of the above and is such a liar he can’t remember the last lie he told.”

+ Noted: Facebook and Google hit with $8.8 billion in lawsuits on day one of GDPR (The Verge); WYFF News 4 (Greenville, NC) anchor, photojournalist tragically killed when tree falls on SUV (WYFF Greenville); Courts may soon have to decide if AI communicators are entitled to journalistic protections (Columbia Journalism Review); Shari Redstone and Les Moonves are locked in a legal battle triggered by disagreement over a potential merger of Viacom (Wall Street Journal)


How The New York Times plans new subscription products (Digiday)

The New York Times is thinking beyond its archives as it looks to add more subscription products to its portfolio. The Times last week announced a team to develop a subscription product for parents. But while other recent product launches, the Cooking and Crossword apps, were built on archives of content, the parenting product isn’t based on a massive library of parenting content. The publisher’s New Products and Ventures team, which was formally announced eight months ago, is less focused on whether the Times has an easily exploitable asset in place and more on whether the publisher has a market advantage in an area.

+ How local publisher Whereby.Us is building an email newsletter referral program (Lenfest Institute); Dear Publishers, if you want my subscription dollars (or euros), here is what I expect… (Medium, Monday Note)


EU governments agree on proposed copyright reform to let news sites charge aggregators for snippets, force upload filters on websites (Julia Reda)

Member State governments have adopted their position on copyright reform. Julia Reda says people across the world are learning what they need to do to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, and many are finding themselves wishing they had involved themselves in the debate when the law was decided more than two years ago. “On the topic of copyright, you NOW have the chance to have an influence — a chance that will be long lost in two years, when we’ll all be ‘suddenly’ faced with the challenge of having to implement upload filters and the ‘link tax’ — or running into new limits on what we can do using the web services we rely on.”

+ Discovery is shutting down its European TV hub as it mulls a post-Brexit plan (The Guardian); Tencent Holdings, which owns China’s top social media app WeChat, pulls investment in content start-up after online backlash (Reuters)


How Peloton is reinventing the fitness industry and becoming a microcultural phenomenon (AdWeek)

Founder John Foley designed Peloton to accommodate the on-demand, binge habits of consumers, Wi-Fi connectivity and the exploding use of smart devices. “When we were growing up,” he says, “you went to Channel 3 at 10, and it was Magnum P.I. Now media is shifting. It’s your time. Your location. You’re the boss. You get to control how you consume your media.” So Peloton built a bike prototype and software to allow for livestreaming and on-demand classes. Now Peloton has two studios in New York and 33 bike showrooms across the country. They produce 14 hours of live classes.


‘Elon Musk wants to fix media mistrust with a dopey rating system. There’s a better way.’ (The Washington Post)

Enraged last week by negative media coverage of Tesla, entrepreneur Elon Musk proposed a rating system in which the public would vote on the credibility of individual journalists and news sites. “Problem is journos are under constant pressure to get max clicks & earn advertising dollars or get fired. Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.” It doesn’t work that way, writes Margaret Sullivan. Journalists are not under pressure to earn ad dollars through their news stories and in fact go out of their way not to write favorably — or at all — about their company’s advertisers. “Musk should stick with his plans for colonizing Mars with his SpaceX venture.”

+ ”The public square is increasingly owned by private interests. That’s not good for free speech.” (Raleigh News & Observer); Are bots entitled to free speech? (Columbia Journalism Review)


How Harvey Levin’s gossip empire TMZ became Trump’s best friend (The Daily Beast)

When the Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump emerged in the home stretch of the 2016 election, it should have been a gift from the tabloid gods for TMZ, writes Lachlan Cartwright. Within a week of the tape’s explosion, TMZ ran “exclusive” after “exclusive” giving Trump cover. It shouldn’t have been a surprise: It was the result of a cozy relationship between TMZ founder and boss Harvey Levin and Trump, who called each other throughout the campaign, reports Cartwright.