Need to Know: Nov. 1, 2018

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


You might have heard: The Oklahoman Media Company sold to GateHouse Media and laid off 37 staffers (Poynter)

But did you know: GateHouse now owns 145 dailies and has spent more than $1 billion over five years on acquisitions (Poynter)

This year’s crop — totaling $156 million — includes The Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon, the Austin American-Statesman and Palm Beach (Florida) Post, The Pueblo (Colorado) Chieftan, the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, and, most recently, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. It also acquired a majority interest in an events business that produces 90 endurance races a year. More purchases are in the pipeline, according to Mike Reed, CEO of the New Media Investment Group that runs GateHouse, though he did not give a target spending number for 2019. Middle-sized metro markets are especially attractive, Reed said, because they tend to offer both the best opportunities for cost cutting and for events revenues and sale of digital services to local businesses. For instance, the company expects to earn between $5 and $6 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in 2019 on the Oklahoma paper, whose circulation is just over 100,000.  “That’s a pretty good return,” Reed commented, given the purchase price of $12 million.

+ Noted: Report for America will place 10 local reporters in California newsrooms next year (Report for America); Poynter and NABJ announce the 2018 diversity leadership class (Poynter); Charles Womack sells alt-weekly Creative Loafing in Charlotte to his son, lays off staff of seven with no severance, and publication will become digital-only (Charlotte Magazine); Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc says she can’t “rule out” layoffs but says the company will be profitable sooner than people expect (Hollywood Reporter)


Are you the ‘office mom’? Avoiding low-promotion jobs at work (Poynter)

Who takes notes at meetings? Who cleans up the coffee station? Who organizes the office parties? In many cases, that person is a woman — sometimes dubbed an “office mom.” And these often thankless jobs are non-promotable tasks, according to Lise Vesterlund, chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Economics Department. They contribute to the overall health of the organization but aren’t cause for recognition. Promotable tasks, on the other hand, contribute to organizational growth and/or revenue — but many times, the person taking on those types of assignments is a man.


How the BBC built one of the world’s largest collaborative journalism efforts focused entirely on local news (Nieman Lab)

For more than a year now, news organizations ranging in size have been signing up to participate in a massive Local News Partnership that leverages the reach and resources of the BBC to shore up the local press and fortify its role in democracy. The scale of the project is immense, functioning like a wire service for more than 90 news organizations representing 800 news outlets around the country, allowing them to share and use each other’s content. The BBC provides the infrastructure and has promised to spend 8 million pounds a year (that’s around $10 million) in the partnership for the next 11 years.

+ British and Canadian parliaments still want Mark Zuckerberg to testify about disinformation (PressGazette)


Eight ideas to make your remote meetings more productive, effective — and, yes — even fun (Adobe 99U)

Think about the correspondences you’ve had today: How many were done with people outside your office, whether over video chat, email, or messaging platforms? Increasingly, more and more of our work communications are taking place virtually. While we can communicate with anyone on the planet at seemingly any time, it’s also resulted in unproductive and sometimes boring conversations. Worse than boring, virtual communications often lead to misunderstandings because they deprive us of the emotional knowledge that helps us understand context, writes Nick Morgan.


Is the news media complicit in spreading rape culture? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Researchers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government published the first-ever long-term study of rape culture, a set of societal attitudes that normalize sexual violence in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science this August. “We find that where there is more rape culture in the press, there is more rape,” write the authors. The study examines how rape is covered by the news media, which the researchers say reflect local community norms, and finds a correlation between media coverage and incidence of sexual assault. The study does not suggest that news coverage “causes” rape, but that it reflects local norms toward sexual assault. The level of rape culture in the media predicts both the frequency of rape and how it’s handled by local criminal justice systems.

+ Why does the LA Times publish completely different political endorsements in English and Spanish? (Latino Rebels); Shepard Smith can’t redeem Fox News (The Washington Post)


Here’s how much bots drive conversation during news events (Wired)

Late last week, about 60 percent of the conversation on Twitter was driven by likely bots. Over the weekend, even as the conversation about the caravan was overshadowed by more recent tragedies, bots were still driving nearly 40 percent of the caravan conversation. That’s according to an assessment by Robhat Labs, a startup founded by two UC Berkeley students that builds tools to detect bots online. The team’s first product, a Chrome extension called, allows users to see which accounts in their Twitter timelines are most likely bots. Now it’s launching a new tool aimed at news organizations called, which allows journalists to see how much bot activity there is across an entire topic or hashtag.

+ Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered four weeks ago. We’re still waiting for answers. (The Washington Post)