Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: May 9, 2018

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


You might have heard: Mark Zuckerberg cares about journalism, but says he doesn’t want to pay for it

But did you know: New data casts doubt on Facebook’s commitment to quality news (Columbia Journalism Review)

Recent data on the best-performing news brands on Facebook seems to show that high-quality news sources are getting less engagement on Facebook and lower quality sites are getting a lot more. NewsWhip, a social-media metrics company, tracks the “most engaged” sites on the network as measured by likes, comments, reactions, and shares. In its ranking for April, Fox News climbed from third place to first with more than 30 million engagements, while previous leader CNN dropped to second with 24 million. The Daily Mail rose to fourth from seventh and a site called Daily Wire, which specializes in conservative news, climbed to eighth with 14 million engagements.

+ Noted: Christiane Amanpour named as Charlie Rose’s official replacement (CNNMoney); The Brown Institute of Stanford and Columbia universities announces its Magic Grant winners to create new tools or forms of storytelling (Stanford); The Christian Science Monitor’s year-old paid daily newsletter has hit 10,000 subscribers and the magazine is now launching a metered paywall on its site (Nieman Lab); The New York Times generates twice as much revenue per employee as BuzzFeed (The Information); Columbia College Chicago launches new civic media master’s degree program (Columbia College Chicago)


Journalists can change the way they build stories to create organic news fluency

Conversations about “news literacy” typically involve a curriculum supervised by schools, heavily oriented toward teaching young people “critical thinking skills” as they consume news. In this essay we propose something different. We believe journalists have a larger role to play than they may have recognized in helping consumers distinguish good reporting from bad. If journalists want their audiences to be able to differentiate solidly reported news content, then they must create their journalism in ways that make it easier for anyone to recognize those qualities. In this essay we lay out a method for you to do that, by anticipating readers’ possible questions about your reporting process and the journalistic decisions underlying your story.


In an experiment to connect with readers, the New York Times hosts conference calls for subscribers that feature reporter interviews and audience questions (Nieman Lab)

The conference call The New York Times held for some of its subscribers last Friday featured Times ISIS reporter Rukmini Callimachi, producer-reporter Andy Mills, and the editorial director of the Times’ international expansion efforts Jodi Rudoren. The Times has now held around 10 of these calls for its subscribers who pay for the All Access Plus or Home Delivery tiers. In addition to the Caliphate call, Times reporters and editors have discussed with subscribers everything from racial inequality to Game of Thrones to the opioid crisis. “Several hundred” subscribers typically dial into these calls, according to senior manager of events marketing at the Times Elizabeth Weinstein, and the demographics are “a broad mix.”


Innovators in Latin American Journalism (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin)

The Knight Center recently published a free ebook, “Innovators in Latin American Journalism.” It includes 13 case studies of journalists and other media professionals in the region who are innovating with design, storytelling format, distribution methods, business models, transnational collaboration, residency programs, niche markets and more. It also features four guides from Latin American journalists who walk the reader through crowdfunding, design thinking, transnational collaboration and building different revenue streams. It’s available for download in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

+ Montreal’s La Presse to become nonprofit entity (CBC)


Why talented people don’t use their strengths (Harvard Business Review)

Experts have long encouraged people to “play to their strengths.” But this is easier said than done, writes Whitney Johnson. Not because it’s hard to identify what we’re good at, but because we often undervalue what we inherently do well. Often our “superpowers” are things we do effortlessly. When a boss identifies these talents and asks you to do something that uses your superpower, you may think, “But that’s so easy. It’s too easy.” As a leader, the challenge is not only to spot talent but also to convince your people that you value their talents and that they should, too. This is how you start to build a team of employees who bring their superpowers to work.

+ Concert and Quartz create business ads partnership (Axios)


Eric Levitz: Liberal publications like The Atlantic can have ideological diversity without hiring sub-standard conservative writers with ideas that are demonstrably false (New York Magazine)

“During the 2016 primaries, the right-wing intelligentsia mobilized in opposition to Trump,” writes Eric Levitz. “And none of it prevented him from becoming the Republican nominee.” Liberal outlets have responded by publishing the conservatism they wish to see in the world, according to Levitz. Republicans with negative views of Donald Trump make up about 5 percent of the electorate, according to the latest Voter Study Group survey, but they are just about the only kind of Republican one will encounter on the pages of The Atlantic or New York Times. “It’s one thing to employ a conservative writer because he or she is interesting; it’s another to employ a substandard columnist because he or she is conservative. And liberal publications, in their quest for balance, have often done the latter.”


Apple hiring activity shows a clear mission to get deeper into editorial publishing (Thinknum Media)

Hiring activity trends at Apple show cyclical efforts for skilled editorial positions following a developmental-hire peak last summer. In other words, writes Joshua Fruhlinger, it looks as though Apple brought on a team to re-develop the Apple News app and followed that with an acute editorial hiring phase to begin creating original content. Immediately following that developmental period for Apple News there’s an uptick in editorial-creation-focused openings. The editorial effort began last fall. Apple’s listing for a “Politics Editor”, for instance, has remained on Apple’s job site since November, 2017 when the hiring spree began. Around that same date, Apple was hiring a TV & Movies Editor, an Editorial Director, a News Desk Editor, a Culture Editor, and a Business Editor.

How the New York Times reimagined its digital story experience (Medium, The Times Open Team); CNN fights to keep internal editorial guidelines under wraps. Why? (The Washington Post)

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