Need to Know: May 3, 2018

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


You might have heard: Conservatives pushed a censorship narrative during Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony, and ProPublica has reported that Facebook’s system allows advertisers to exclude black, Hispanic, and other “ethnic affinities” from seeing ads

But did you know:  Facebook has committed to a civil rights audit and a political bias review (Axios)

To address allegations of bias, Facebook is bringing in two outside advisors — one to conduct a legal audit of its impact on underrepresented communities and communities of color, and another to advise the company on potential bias against conservative voices. The civil rights audit will be guided by Laura Murphy, a national civil liberties and civil rights leader. Murphy will take feedback from civil rights groups, like The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and advise Facebook on the best path forward. The conservative bias advising partnership will be led by former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, along with his team at Covington and Burling, a Washington law firm.

+ Related: Zuckerberg says Facebook is already ranking news organizations based on trust and will invest billions to fight fake news (BuzzFeed)

+ Noted: Journalist Mary Reinholz says NBC’s Tom Brokaw made an unwanted advance on her 50 years ago, when he was a married anchor in LA and she was a young reporter (The Villager Newspaper); Condé Nast will launch Wired, Bon Appetit, GQ as their own OTT networks (Variety); Bloomberg’s new paywall will charge users $34.99 a month (Business Insider); The Maynard Institute is now accepting applications for its training program focused on expanding the diversity pipeline in news media (Maynard Institute)



Don’t hard sell potential members. Just make it easy. (Poynter)

Jack Sheppard worked for 35 years in newspapers, including as sports editor at the Tampa Bay Times. He retired in 2014 and started at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay a month later. Sheppard and his wife started volunteering with the non-profit in 2003. He is now the managing director of partnerships. As he talked with Kristen Hare, one thing became clear about how BBBS of Tampa Bay gets people to volunteer — they make it super easy. “Don’t talk ‘em into it, don’t hard sell anybody,” he said. “Make it as easy and as quick as you can.” Here are a few ways they do that — Don’t harangue or hard sell. Just be where people are; Make it incredibly easy to sign up; and don’t make people come to you. You can go to them.


Cambridge Analytica to file for bankruptcy after misuse of Facebook data (The New York Times)

The embattled political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica announced that it would cease most operations and file for bankruptcy amid growing legal and political scrutiny of its business practices and work for President Trump’s presidential campaign. However, a filing shows executives at Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group, along with the Mercer family, have moved to create a new firm, Emerdata, possibly for “rebranding.”

+ Facebook quietly ended its Free Basics program in Myanmar and other countries (The Outline); Tech giants feel the squeeze as Xi Jinping tightens his grip (The New York Times)


LinkedIn is 15 years old today (AdWeek)

LinkedIn is celebrating its 15th birthday, and it shared data on how industries and job titles have evolved since its debut. Co-founder and vice president of product strategy Allen Blue said in a blog post, “15 years ago, we launched LinkedIn in Reid Hoffman’s living room with the tagline, ‘Relationships matter.’ I’m proud to say that this mantra still rings true today in both the halls of LinkedIn and on the platform. While the world of work has evolved immensely — be it the tools and products we use, the ways we communicate and even the jobs themselves — our need to connect with one another to be productive in our careers remains at the core of all we do.”


Why the ‘golden age’ of newspapers was the exception, not the rule (Nieman Lab)

A recent article in The Washington Post lamented that “newspapers have been dying in slow motion for two decades now.” News organizations, particularly local outfits, have shed reporters at a precipitous rate. Some 455,000 people worked in the news business in 1990; by early 2017, this had dropped by more than 50 percent to 173,900 employees. But these lamentations have been overwrought because we tend to look at the past, when newspapers thrived, through rose-colored glasses. There are two problems with the rose-tinted narrative. First, it implicitly portrays the four-decade period from 1940 to 1980 as the apotheosis of a golden age for news. Second, it takes that period as the baseline for how news has always worked. In fact, this period was an anomaly in a longer, four-century history of news. This becomes more obvious when we consider the economics underpinning American journalism.

+ Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t understand journalism (The Atlantic)


Why does the Star Tribune outperform the pack of metros? (Poynter)

Two years ago Rick Edmonds chronicled how the Star Tribune of Minneapolis had become a widely celebrated fast horse in the slow field of metropolitan newspapers. An enlightened billionaire owner, a talented publisher and a news-hungry, civically attuned audience all have helped the Strib weather the continuing woes of sinking print advertising revenues and digital disruption. Even more important, a stream of innovative projects, well executed, have generated enough revenue to keep whole a well-staffed newsroom with 245 editors and reporters. Now as the first financial results for 2018 begin to roll in, a second look seems in order, writes Edmonds. Like many peer companies, the Star Tribune is looking for the next phase of growth to come from paid digital subscriptions, but unlike many, they’re not starting late from a tiny base.

+ New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova picked up poker for a book stunt then won so much money that the book is on hold (Deadspin)