Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: May 7, 2018

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


You might have heard: Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation is coming May 25

But did you know: How have news publishers prepared for GDPR? (Nieman Lab)

The maximum penalty for breaking Europe’s coming General Data Protection Regulation laws — a massive revamp of the EU’s data privacy requirements, with a worldwide impact — is the higher of the following two options: €20 million, or 4 percent of a company’s worldwide annual revenue. GDPR will take effect May 25, and it will apply most directly to companies based in the European Union. But they’re also written to cover European users of companies not based in Europe. Digital news organizations collect and store the personal information of readers, and they have contracts with vendors who do the same — so they’ll need to follow the new rules, too, or face the same potential financial punishment.

+ Noted: Tronc recognizes Chicago Tribune union (NPR); 3 top figures at Denver Post, including former owner, quit (Associated Press); Meredith CEO says deadline for first-round bids on Time, SI, Money, Fortune is May 11 (New York Post); Google is revamping Google News to incorporate elements of the Newsstand app and YouTube (AdAge)



10 tips for verifying viral social media videos (Poynter)

Of all types of misinformation, video is among the hardest to fact-check. First, it isn’t easily searchable like text and photos are, and there’s currently no way to see which videos are going viral on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Then there’s the fact that fake videos are getting easier to create and harder to detect, writes Daniel Funke. So-called “deepfake” technology draws upon artificial intelligence to alter images and even superimpose celebrities’ heads on other people’s bodies. With those challenges in mind, here is a list of tips and tricks for debunking viral fake videos on social media, including doing a reverse image search of a screenshot to see if it’s been published elsewhere, using geolocation software, and more.

+ Can a news organization provide the service of feeling connected through its membership program? (Nieman Lab)


Before five Swedish publishers were able to launch a site for their announced fact-checking initiative Faktiskt, a pro-Kremlin copycat appeared (EU vs. Disinfo)

The copycat site states it is a reaction the original fact checking site, calling the cooperation between the established publishers a ‘Ministry of Truth’ — a term used to discredit fact checkers and those working against disinformation. The copycat site also claims to be a cooperation between “Swedish media” and “experts” without any further information about who those experts or media might be. The site was started by NewsVoice, a site known for spreading pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives as well as conspiracy theories about vaccines, and Nya Dagbladet, which claims to be a news site which runs a campaign for “ethnic rights” of Nordic people.

+ A pop-up newsroom in Canada is taking a slow journalism approach to local news (Lenfest Institute); Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are investing heavily in short videos as the format explodes in China (Financial Times)


How filmmakers could use machine learning, trained on data from prior box office hits, to predict a movie’s success (Wired)

Machine learning is everywhere, and artificial intelligence is no longer just a Spielberg-Kubrick collaboration, writes Scott Bay. “These days, Amazon can practically anticipate when you might need toilet paper and Netflix can predict your next binge, so it only seems natural that Hollywood will start using AI to predict the next big blockbuster, or at least improve its chances of becoming one.” Several companies are already working on ways to predict box office results algorithmically. Whether or not algorithms are better at picking winners than studio execs, however, is unresolved.


How many subscriptions does one really need? (Om Malik)

“I don’t mind paying for media — written word, music, video or data – that I deem valuable,” writes Om Malik. “And all of these are to be seen in the context of the amount of available time and attention. Just as I am willing to spend on proper diet and health, I don’t consider nourishing the brain a cost. It is a necessity. For me, if there is value, and if it makes my work or my life better, I will pay for it. But there is a limit to how much I can spend or instead how much I am willing to spend.”

+ Earlier: Malik’s attitude about paying for news is what we call a “Thrifty Transactor,” but there are others too — read our study about all three primary attitudes consumers have about paying for news

+ The open secret of Charlie Rose: Essay by former intern and producer (The New York Review of Books)


The unavoidable Brian Stelter: CNN’s media wonk doesn’t want to waste a moment (Columbia Journalism Review)

By the time CNN’s Brian Stelter goes to sleep on any given Sunday evening, sometime after midnight, he will have hosted Reliable Sources, appeared twice on other CNN shows, sent out his newsletter, and fired off more than 70 tweets and retweets to his 580,000 followers. “I don’t want to waste the moment,” Stelter says sitting in his office a couple of days later. “I don’t want to waste a show, I don’t want to waste a newsletter edition, I don’t want to waste a day.”

+ Warren Buffett, in Q&A with Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, says only perhaps the New York Times, WSJ, and Washington Post have a digital product with robust enough revenue to be viable over the long-term (Omaha World-Herald)

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

The American Press Institute

Our mission

We help transform news organizations for an audience-centered future.

Our programs for publishers focus on four things:

  • 1. Understand your audience
  • 2. Get your audience to pay
  • 3. Transform your culture
  • 4. Do your best journalism
  • Find out more about API »

API solutions for publishers

What we can do for you

API offers a suite of original tools and services for solving the biggest challenges in news:

  • Decide what beats to cover and how
  • Identify and develop the skills you need
  • Assess and improve your culture
  • Drive more reader revenue
  • Drive loyalty through accountability journalism
  • Make analytics work for you
  • Contact us to find out how »