Need to Know: Nov. 27, 2019


You might have heard: How “hashtag journalism” helps drive the Twitter news cycle (Columbia Journalism Review)

But did you know: Political hashtags like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter make some people doubt the stories they’re attached to (Nieman Lab)

Journalists will often use political hashtags to increase readership and add context to stories they’re posting on social media. But a new study from the University of California, Irvine suggests that journalists may want to think twice before doing so. According to its results, tagging a news story with political hashtags can cause some readers to view the story as politically biased. This was especially true for more conservative readers, who were more likely to say a news post was partisan when it included a hashtag. Interestingly, political moderates were also more likely to doubt a story’s credibility when it came with a hashtag. The study also showed that when stories included a hashtag, people perceived the news topic to be less important, and they were less motivated to know more about related issues.

+ Noted: The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting is hiring for a director (University of North Carolina)


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Research-based tips for reporting on science research (Journalist’s Resource)

Covering science research can be a fraught exercise. Journalists want to accurately convey the findings in a way that audiences trust and understand, and that doesn’t leave them open to accusations of bias. Journalists should be careful about using terms that may cause readers to form preconceptions about the findings — terms like “climate crisis” versus “climate change” or “gun control” versus “gun safety.” “I think this is where journalists have to be very careful, in terms of endorsing one term or the other,” says Dietram A. Scheufele, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies science communication. “If I start changing the language as a journalist, and I change it intentionally, I need to ask myself, why am I doing this?”

+ What to do when your career path is uncharted territory (Poynter)


Why CNBC’s millennial-friendly content is gaining traction (The Drum)

CNBC International is seeing positive results from its efforts to grow its millennial audience. The network has formed a team to create digital-only videos and other millennial-friendly content for its social platforms, including an explainer series on issues that matter to younger generations, and a series profiling successful entrepreneurs from around the world. While CNBC is geared to a business-savvy audience, “People earlier in their careers are still building up this knowledge base,” says Cristy Garratt, the head of social media and digital video. “It’s critical we don’t alienate enthusiastic new viewers from our brand because of a bit of industry jargon. Better yet, if we can assist them with understanding these economic concepts and global trends, we may be able to win them over as loyal CNBC viewers for good.”

+ Earlier: The decrease in younger audiences is “significant risk to the future sustainability of the BBC” (Press Gazette)


BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti on making the world a meme (New York Magazine)

In a hyper-polarized society, could viral content be one of the last threads knitting us together? If so, it’s having a more difficult time surfacing, as tech companies, suddenly fearful of their own power, tweak their algorithms to downplay content that would otherwise take the internet world by storm (we all remember the dress, for example). “Today, there’s a fear of viral content,” said Peretti. “Ironically, that has led to much more microtargeting, where instead of having one thing that everyone in the world sees, we have personalized content for each individual, and keep people more in their lanes and in their bubbles, and not have as much entertainment that cuts across the entire social network or the entire web. In the long run, I think that’s led to things like more separatist movements around the world, more polarization.”


Care about journalism? Maybe you should cancel your newspaper (Politico)

Subscription revenue is considered a life-saving infusion for withering local news. But subscribers should consider where their money is going, says Jack Shafer. Many local dailies are now owned by hedge funds that cannibalize its papers for profits; a “strip-mining” business model that ultimately destroys quality journalism. “Owners who gut and depopulate their newsroom don’t deserve the financial rewards a newspaper lover can bestow,” says Shafer. He even suggests “organized subscriber strikes” as an attempt to force hedge-fund owners to sell their papers to owners who care about good journalism.


It’s Thanksgiving — what’s the appetite for food hot takes? (Slate)

Passionate arguments over food are common — and seemingly popular — on the internet. And when food writers join the fray, they often add a kernel of insight into larger societal or economic trends. But lately, writes Ruth Graham, “Hot takes about food are getting stale. Punchy food writing can be a glorious thing, of course. But there’s an air of manic hollowness to the genre lately … At their lamest, these pieces are thin gruel, nothing more than a description of the writer’s own taste buds masquerading as a moral jeremiad.”

+ Local newsrooms that “refuse to quit,” the late Deadspin and a little tact on Twitter. Here’s what we’re thankful for this year. (Poynter)