Need to Know: October 26, 2021


You might have heard: New Facebook storm nears as CNN, Fox Business and other outlets team up on whistleblower docs (The Information)

But did you know: In a time of mega-leaks, journalists’ sources have become power players (The New York Times)

Frances Haugen, the source behind the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook investigation and now, what’s being called the Facebook Papers, carefully coordinated a media rollout, selecting certain news outlets to play a part in reporting on the internal documents she possessed. The Atlantic, The Associated Press, CNN, NBC News, Fox Business, The New York Times and other outlets began publishing their findings on the documents Friday. These mega-leaks “have given the leakers and their brokers a new kind of power over the news media, raising tricky questions about how their revelations should enter the public sphere,” writes Ben Smith. “There are questions, in particular, on the balance of power between the sources of vital information and the reporters who benefit from them.”

+ Related: In the ocean’s worth of new Facebook revelations out, here are some of the most important drops (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: A look at Minnesotan’s trust in the news media (APM Research Lab)


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

Journalists should consider it their job to build stories in a way that shows people the difference between good reporting, bad reporting and outright fakery. Here are templates for nine story types, to help journalists construct them in a way that proactively resolves doubts and questions audiences may have.


When reporting on disability, advice about language is simple: just ask (Poynter)

The National Center on Disability and Journalism has updated its style guide, shifting it from “person first” language to “identity first.” That means that while the guide used to recommend terms like “person with a disability,” it now recommends “disabled person” — with a caveat. “The most important thing is for the journalists to ask the person with a disability how they’d like to be referred to,” says Amy Silverman, lead author of the style guide.


Use of artificial intelligence in Latin American media still scarce, according to report (LatAm Journalism Review)

Lack of budget, lack of human resources, and lack of “corporate vision to implement artificial intelligence technologies” are the top reasons few Latin American newsrooms have adopted AI — but not a lack of willingness. Journalists surveyed in a report by the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism, International Media Support and the media outlet The Fix said they needed training and the opportunity to exchange experiences with other media outlets. The report did find that some newsrooms have used AI successfully to carry out investigations. For example, Argentine newspaper La Nación worked with AI firm Dymaxion Labs to create a machine learning algorithm that can identify solar farms in the country.


Publishers are seeing increases in advertiser requests around climate and sustainability coverage (Digiday)

Many publishers are getting more requests from advertisers to pitch campaign or sponsorship opportunities around their solutions-based journalism on climate change, writes Sara Guaglione. The BBC, for example, says that between half and two-thirds of advertiser briefs contain a sustainability element, and the Financial Times has seen a tenfold increase in request for proposals year over year from advertisers seeking to align themselves with the FT’s climate, sustainability and environmental content. At Group Nine Media, sustainability content will be “the number one area of focus” for the sales and marketing teams for most of its brands, with a spokesperson calling it a “huge driver of revenue.”


How might more media fundraise as a collective? (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)

The Chicago Independent Media Alliance formed in February 2020 — on the eve of the pandemic. The alliance was designed to help Chicago media connect and learn from each other, particularly when it came to fundraising. When the pandemic caused ad revenue to shrivel up, the alliance launched a fundraising campaign that would raise more than $160,000. Donors had the option of giving to one or more outlets, or to have their contribution split among multiple outlets. “The joint fundraising has been successful because we are trying to uplift this ecosystem, and most members understand that people give for different reasons,” said Tracy Baim, who started CIMA. “Sometimes to individual outlets, but sometimes people will give even more when they see collaboration.”


Meet the editor building a ‘meme team’ at the Los Angeles Times (Nieman Lab)

The L.A. Times is expanding its audience team and promoting its leader, Samantha Melbourneweaver, to assistant managing editor for audience. Melbourneweaver is also in charge of creating a six-person “meme team” — a team of people, she says, “who don’t necessarily come from journalism backgrounds or don’t necessarily think the old tenets of journalism are as hallowed and important.” She hopes hiring creative people from other types of media backgrounds can improve diversity at the newsroom and help it reach new — especially younger — audiences. “Especially in LA, we’ve got a whole industry — many industries, actually — for creatives and creative people, so I’m hoping that we can tap into some of those networks and invite people from off-the-wall backgrounds.”

+ How Patrick Soon-Shiong made his fortune before buying the Los Angeles Times (New Yorker)