Need to Know: November 28, 2018

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


You might have heardFactStream debuted live fact-checking with the January 2018 State of the Union (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: What early experiments in live fact-checking have taught us (Nieman Lab)

A recent experiment in live fact-checking, in which participants watched speeches by Barack Obama and Donald Trump that were retrofitted with fact checks — either in the form of a Truth-O-Meter rating from PolitiFact, or a “summary text” of facts — had an overall positive reaction. “People love this new form of TV fact-checking,” wrote Bill Adair. “Participants were unanimous that they would like a feature like this during political events such as debates and speeches. They said it would hold politicians more accountable for what they say. Some of the participants said they liked the service so much that they would choose a network that offered fact-checks over one that did not.” However, participants were split over which presentation of the facts they preferred. Of the 15, 8 wanted the factual summary, while 7 preferred simple ratings like the Truth-O-Meter. Both camps also wanted to know which organization was providing the information.

+ Related: On Tuesday CNN posted simultaneous fact checks on screen during while airing the White House press briefing (@LisPower1, Twitter)

+ Noted: “Misinformation” is’s word of the year (Poynter); Introducing HERE: A location-aware app that puts you at the center of local news discovery (Medium, Lenfest Local Lab); Fox & Friends fed interview script to Trump’s EPA chief, emails show (Daily Beast); Newseum opens exhibit on shooting at newspaper in Maryland (The Washington Post)


How to improve subscription registration and payment forms

The latest addition to API’s Reader Revenue Toolkit looks at subscription registration and payment forms, which play a critical role in the user experience. Done well, registration and payment forms capture needed revenue and strengthen connections with readers. Designed poorly, they push potential subscribers out the door. A basic guideline is to keep registration pages brief and simple. This section examines best practices that news organizations have used to sign up readers and avoid turning them off with clunky requirements. Newsrooms can adapt these approaches and others to suit the realities of their marketplace and support their larger digital marketing strategies.


How local journalism can upend the ‘fake news’ narrative and build trust (The Conversation)

Local journalists are often the only journalists that most people will ever meet. So they play a significant role in how the wider profession is perceived. For Caitlyn May, editor of the Cottage Grove Sentinel in Oregon, this means “it’s essential that journalists leave the office and go out into the community.” One way she does this is by holding a monthly, informal “Meet the Editor” discussion at a local coffee shop. Other outlets, such as the Dallas Morning News with its Curious Texas project, and KUOW Public Radio in Puget Sound, Wash., are partnering with Hearken to encourage audiences to submit questions they want answered or suggest topics that they want local journalists to cover. “Local news providers must be relentlessly local and offer something different if they want people to pay for their product,” writes Damian Radcliffe. “They also need to be more visible, embracing opportunities for real-life engagement and consciously diversifying the range of people they interview.”

+ Related: Political polarization increases after local newspapers close, research shows (Journalist’s Resource)

+ How to help your newsroom make room for solutions journalism and how to boost audience engagement, build community trust, & drive discourse forward (Solutions Journalism Network)


New data suggests African audiences see significantly more misinformation than Americans do (Nieman Lab)

The fake news phenomenon has been studied mostly as it happens in the U.S. and Europe, with little attention paid to African countries; despite the fact that disinformation on the continent has often taken the form of extreme speech inciting violence, or has spread racist, misogynous and xenophobic messages, often through mobile platforms such as WhatsApp. A new study, aiming to fill the gap in information about “fake news” in sub-Saharan Africa, polled Kenyans, Nigerians and South Africans; and found that these audiences have low levels of trust in the media, experience a high degree of exposure to misinformation, and contribute — often knowingly — to its spread.

+ Memo from a “Facebook nation” to Mark Zuckerberg: You moved fast and broke our country (Recode); British parliament drops the kid gloves in Facebook fight (Columbia Journalism Review)


Heard about deepfakes? Don’t panic. Prepare (World Economic Forum)

Malicious uses of deepfake videos to disrupt political debate, undermine national security, confuse human rights investigations and attack businesses and civil society groups are not yet widespread. “We presently have an opportunity, before we enter the ‘eye of the storm,’ to be proactive and non-alarmist in addressing threats,” writes Samuel Gregory. A critical first step is connecting researchers who are building new detection tools for deepfakes to journalists who use open-source intelligence techniques in newsrooms around the world.


What I’ve learned from two years trying to shift narratives about the South (Columbia Journalism Review)

It’s been two years since journalists who live on the coasts and work at national publications vowed to do better, to dig deeper, to reject stereotypes and take the middle of America more seriously. But not much has changed; they still parachute in, make assumptions, and move on. “As journalists, we owe it to the places and people we write about to go into a story with an open mind, without writing it in our heads before reporting,” says Lyndsey Gilpin, founder of Southerly. “I always ask sources what I’m missing or what’s been reported inaccurately before, and their reactions and answers often surprise me. They’re so rarely asked those questions.”


Pro tips from scholars for journalists (and vice versa) (Journalist’s Resource)

Many readers of Journalist’s Resource fall into one of two camps: hardworking journalists and hardworking academics. Recently, in hopes of providing an opportunity for the two groups to learn from each other, Journalist’s Resource posed two questions in its weekly newsletter. To scholars: Have you noticed any common mistakes in news stories about academic research? And to journalists: What’s one thing you’d like academic researchers to understand about journalism? Among the main takeaways from the many thoughtful responses provided by both camps: Journalists would like academics to understand their tight deadlines. And academics would like journalists to take a statistics class.

+ “I had to borrow money to pay my rent”: Civil’s tokenomics has left some of its journalists wondering where their salary is (Nieman Lab)