Need to Know: October 8, 2018

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


You might have heard: Americans’ trust in local news is up (Poynter)

But did you know: How much Americans trust 38 major news organizations (hint: not all that much!) (Nieman Lab)

“Surveys about ‘media trust’ suffer from a definitional problem,” writes Josh Benton. “‘Do you trust the media?’ is a meaningful question only if we know what ‘the media’ is. Is it The New York Times and CNN? Fox News and Breitbart? Occupy Democrats and your uncle’s memes on Facebook?” A recent survey of more than 2,000 Americans captured their trust levels in 38 major media outlets, and found that even the most-trusted news outlet (The Wall Street Journal), has the trust of just over half (57 percent) of Americans. (Compare that with a Gallup survey from 1976, when 72 percent of Americans said they trusted the mass media.) ABC, CBS and BBC follow the Journal closely, with 55 percent of respondents saying they trust these outlets. Occupy Democrats, Infowars, and the Daily Caller are the least-trusted news outlets in the U.S., with less than a quarter of respondents saying they trusted them. Thirteen percent said they trusted none of these outlets.   

+ Earlier: “My” media versus “the” media: Trust in news depends on which news media you mean

+ Noted: Turkey concludes Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi killed in Saudi Consulate, sources say (The Washington Post); Spotify launches new program for podcasters (Variety); Guardian Weekly to relaunch as glossy news magazine (The Guardian); Student journalists are leading The Washington Post’s midterm coverage on Instagram TV (Poynter); Reynolds Journalism Institute seeks newsroom partners for student innovation fellowship (Reynolds Journalism Institute)


How the Dallas Morning News connects with diverse audiences (Street Fight Mag)

Nicole Stockdale, the Dallas Morning News’ director of digital strategy, explains Curious Texas, the newsroom’s listening project that allows readers to tell reporters exactly what they want covered. Curious Texas is fueled by Hearken, a platform where readers can submit questions for reporters and vote for the ones that are most important to them. So far, readers have submitted more than 600 questions, and Morning News reporters have covered 60 of them. “We are seeing that Curious Texas articles convert [to digital subscriptions] well; they do better than the average stories produced by our newsroom,” says Stockdale. “And they’re helping to surface the kind of stories we want to follow up on. This information is valuable.”

+ Related: See how other newsrooms have embarked on their own listening projects in our new report, “How a culture of listening strengthens reporting and relationships”; Plus, a step-by-step guide to hosting a story circle (Capital Public Radio)

+ For young reporters, tips on how to cover a protest (The Groundtruth Project)


Brazil’s ‘ethno-communicators’ are helping indigenous people find their voice (Committee to Protect Journalists)

The people who run Radio Yandê, a Brazilian digital portal dedicated to indigenous issues, have many words to define what they do, but even though the site has stories, video and audio, none of those definitions include the word journalism, writes Andrew Downie. “What we do is ethno-communication,” said Renata Machado, a Tupinambá who co-founded the portal five years ago. “…Journalism imposes through formats but indigenous people have their own cultural ways of communicating.” The reluctance to define themselves as journalists is partly down to a controversial law (no longer active) that ruled only those with journalism degrees could call themselves journalists. But it also reflects an exclusion that is extreme even in a country notorious for its inequality. Brazil, the most populous country in Latin America with 208 million people and close to a million indigenous citizens, has almost no indigenous journalists working at major media outlets and very few publications or sites dedicated exclusively to indigenous issues.


Why brand trumps reputation (MIT Sloan Management Review)

Nike’s decision to make NFL quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick the face of the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign illustrates the important difference between brand and reputation, write Jonathan Knowles and Richard Ettenson. Brand is about generating demand among customers. Reputation is about approval among stakeholders. In making a deliberate decision to increase the appeal of its brand (at least, among its younger, more progressive base) at the risk of alienating conservative customers and stakeholders, Nike recognized that the actions required to drive brand strength may sometimes come at the expense of reputation, write Knowles and Ettenson. “Nike’s strategic choice drives home an important point for all brands. …In making reputation the centerpiece of their communications, many companies have found that their brands have suffered: They have become bland, or worse, irrelevant.”


Bloomberg’s spy chip story reveals the murky world of national security reporting (TechCrunch)

Last week’s bombshell Bloomberg story has the internet split: either the story is right and uncovered one of the largest breaches of the U.S. tech industry by a foreign adversary, or it’s not and a lot of people screwed up. The revelation that China installed spy chips on motherboards that are used in data center servers across the U.S. tech industry — and the tech companies’ strenuous denials of the charge — illustrate the murky world of national security reporting, writes Zack Whittaker. “Tapping information from the intelligence community is near impossible. For spies and diplomats, it’s illegal to share classified information with anyone and can be — and is — punishable by time in prison. As a security reporter, you’re either incredibly well sourced or downright lucky. More often than not it’s the latter.”


Smaller outlets cut back or scrap Facebook promotion over new ad rules (Columbia Journalism Review)

While Facebook’s new ad policy can be lauded as an effort to make political advertising more transparent, the rules that go along with it are making media organizations jump through increasingly difficult hoops. To be able to promote political stories on Facebook, news outlets must go through a process that involves uploading of official ID, along with receipt of a registered letter at an approved US address. “For larger media outlets, these requirements might be complicated and annoying,” writes Mathew Ingram. “For smaller publishers, Facebook’s new rules can be so unwieldy and demanding — and the definition of what constitutes a ‘political news story’ so capricious — that small newsrooms in four states told CJR they are either scaling back their Facebook usage or, in some cases, have given up on promoting their content there at all.”

+ A new study provides some dispiriting evidence for why people fall for stupid fake images online (Nieman Lab); Requiem for a Tronc: Tribune Publishing says goodbye to a name that never sat well (Nieman Lab)