Need to Know: Nov. 8, 2018

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


You might have heardIn July, the White House banned CNN reporter from Rose Garden event (CNN)

But did you know: White House suspends press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta after his testy exchange with Trump (The Washington Post)

The White House suspended the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday, hours after President Trump took issue with questions Acosta asked at a news conference. The move to punish Acosta by removing his access to the White House is believed to be unprecedented. The Trump administration barred another CNN reporter from attending an open media event in July but until now has not gone as far as removing a credential, known as a “hard pass,” which enables a journalist to enter the White House grounds. Press secretary Sarah Sanders cited Acosta’s brief confrontation with a White House press aide during Trump’s midday news conference as the reason for suspending his press pass “until further notice.”

+ The White House Correspondents Association responds: “We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action” (Twitter, @whca); “This is a lie” Acosta tweeted, after Press Secretary Sarah Sanders accused him of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern” (Twitter, @Acosta)

+ Noted: Axios is on track for $20 million in revenue, taking an “outside shot” at profitability (Digiday); Vice Media to shrink workforce by as much as 15 percent as growth stalls (The Wall Street Journal); Two staff members of the Committee to Protect Journalists have been detained in Tanzania (Committee to Protect Journalists)


6AM: Unlocking civic engagement in younger readers (Nieman Lab)

The latest entrant to the local/young news space, 6AM is a network of six sites structured around daily newsletters and Instagram Stories with a civic engagement flair. In each of its local markets, 6AM has two multimedia producers, who take turns preparing the newsletter, and one engagement editor. The teams write one original piece a day (the intro to the newsletter) but also curate news reported by other local outlets in the “News Notes” section. The Asheville team, in its second month, asked readers to send in their questions about Asheville, and then organized the 100-plus responses into categories on the site — with topics like “local happy hours” to “How long do affordable [housing] units stay affordable?” to “Will the north side of Asheville ever get a movie theatre?” The producers and editors follow up on a couple of responses each month and update the master list with the link when answered. “We like to say that our audience is local, vocal, and social. We try to position our brand as a community influencer,” said Ryan Johnston, 6AM’s managing director.

+ How civic engagement projects are helping to tackle political alienation and extremism (Apolitical); How Southern California’s KPCC helped boost voter turnout, one text at a time (Medium, Sara Catania)


How one newsroom is dealing with notification overload (

It is now a given that newsrooms are struggling under a combination of wires, notifications, social media updates and an avalanche of emails. Combine this with diminishing resources and a traditional long-hours work culture — and you have a recipe for journalist burnout. Alex Entwistle, assistant editor at BBC Radio 5 Live, is dialing down the pressure in an innovative way. He has turned off social media messages during certain office hours, introduced meetings at the end of the working day, and has encouraged his team to express their feelings through a musical “mood board.”

+ China’s Xinhua News Agency debuts AI anchors in partnership with search engine Sogou (South China Morning Post)


How journalists can use participatory budgeting to better serve their communities (Medium, Simon Galperin)

Participatory budgeting, in which community members can directly determine how to spend a given budget, has been used by local governments across the world to improve information exchange, leading to more effective public services, increased transparency and reduced corruption. “This is a tried and true way to build trust,” writes Simon Galperin. “That’s what should make it so palatable to newsrooms. And it cultivates the local democratic culture that news organizations need to thrive.” Here are a few scenarios in which newsrooms might use participatory budgeting: When determining how to allocate grant funding to cover a marginalized community; as a benefit to attract members looking to have a bigger stake in your newsroom; when deciding how reporting resources should be allocated to make your coverage more inclusive; or collaborating with local government or civic institutions to facilitate a participatory budgeting process on their behalf.


Are we moving into the NINO age — newspapers in name only? (Nieman Lab)

2018 may prove to be a turning point for local news, writes Ken Doctor. The year has already been marked by an unforeseen acceleration of decline in the core local daily newspaper business, both in advertising and in circulation. At the same time, the hushed whispers of a local news emergency have grown louder. There’s talk — both public and private — of the need to raise huge amounts of money in order to address a crisis a decade in the marking. Is this then a reckoning — the year when a green wave of cash began to find (and fund) a future for local news? Or is it just a minor swell, soon to be swept aside just as others have before it?


‘To do deep community engagement, you can’t just buy a tool’ (Medium, Agora Journalism Center)

As the interest in engagement grows in nearly all corners of the news business, and the need to find ways to reconnect journalism with the public grows more urgent, one approach has attracted attention: the “people-powered journalism” model advocated by Hearken. More than just software tools, Hearken promotes a philosophy of journalism that casts the public as active participants. But how well are newsrooms implementing Hearken? As one journalist, whose newsroom was an early adopter, explained, the biggest challenge is building a new workflow and philosophy into the DNA of the newsroom. “We’re a small newsroom, and it’s still a challenge,” he said. “It’s just because everybody’s busy, right? So you just have to constantly keep it in front of everyone and remind us at every editorial meeting, ‘OK, where is there a Hearken engagement opportunity in whatever you’re doing?’”

+ Working with a different set of voter data, Fox News was the first major news organization to project that the Democrats would retake control of the House of Representatives (The New York Times); Inside the Facebook-sponsored boot camp to help local pubs drive subscriptions (AdExchanger)