Need to Know: Sept. 13, 2019

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


You might have heard: How design can impact SEO (UX Booth)

But did you know: Google announces ranking change to elevate original reporting in search (The Keyword)

Yesterday, Google announced it had changed its search algorithm to “surface (original reporting) more prominently in Search and ensure it stays there longer.” Google Vice President of News Richard Gingras wrote that search rankings now highlight articles that the company determines provide “significant original reporting” on the subject. Google’s ranking system also will consider the reputation of publications, with Pulitzer Prize winners and organizations with a history of high-quality original reporting receiving more prominent billing.

+ Noted: Formative newspaper Vermont Woman ceases publication after more than three decades (Burlington Free Press); Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax sues CBS over accuser interviews (Associated Press); Borealis Philanthropy raises $3.6 million for the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund (Borealis Philanthropy)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of Factually: Four new terms for misinformation, what a U.S. Department of Defense contractor learned from making manipulated images and videos, and division over how to prevent misinformation in the 2020 campaign.


How 3 local newsrooms grew exponentially on Instagram (Poynter)

During the summer Instagram Local News Fellowship, three journalists helped their newsrooms increase followers and explore strategies to reach younger audiences on Instagram. After the fellowship, which was a joint project from Instagram and the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis gained 3,000 followers. Colleen Kelly, senior digital editor for the Star Tribune, said the paper “moved to a more interactive approach, turning facts from a story into a quiz, for example, or asking questions, and our Instagram followers have responded well.” At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which gained 4,000 followers during the fellowship, fellow Emily Dunn posted content from reporters and photographers to drive web traffic.


How Le Monde is using podcasts to drive digital subscriptions (Digiday)

Three podcasts from Le Monde led to new subscriptions as the newspaper aims to hit 220,000 digital subscribers by the end of this year. One of the podcasts was adapted from the publication’s investigative reporting regarding France’s Socialist Party, and two of the shows were produced in partnership with Spotify. Le Monde’s deputy editor for digital Alexis Delcambre said that stories from the investigative series, “Seven years of Betrayal,” were some of the publication’s most successful this year when it came to converting subscribers. About 20 percent of the audience for the podcast adaptation also read at least one article in the series.

+ Related: Browse our curated strategies and guides for how to do podcasting (Better News)

+ Quibi teams with BBC News on daily news show for millennials (Deadline)


Research: When women are on boards, male CEOs are less overconfident (Harvard Business Review)

A European research team found that female board members improve overall decision making for companies by tempering male CEOs’ overconfidence. The research may help explain why boards with women take less aggressive risks and make better investment and acquisition decisions. Female board members are less likely to be conformist and more likely to express their views, increasing the viewpoints heard during board deliberations. Previous studies found that male CEOs are more likely than women to be overconfident, a trait that can be detrimental to companies.


Facebook took down a fact-check of an anti-abortion video after Republicans complained (BuzzFeed News)

A video from LiveAction, an anti-abortion site known to share misinformation, said that abortion is never medically necessary, so three doctors working with Health Feedback fact-checked the claim. They found it was false, and the fact check appeared next to the videos on Facebook. After four Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, accused Facebook of censorship and anti-conservative bias, the social media platform removed the fact check. Health Feedback’s parent, Science Feedback, is a member of the International Fact-Checking Network, which is investigating if Health Feedback violated the organization’s Code of Principles.

+ The Washington Post Guild released a statement condemning the shutdown of Express and its subsequent layoffs.


Print rediscovers a delightful new dimension (Columbia Journalism Review)

For as long as people have been making magazines, they’ve been crafting unique interactive elements that require readers to play along. The inside cover of most Mad magazine issues has included a fold-in that readers fold to reveal messages, but elements similar to that version of the centerfold are rare now. Kerry Soper said interactive print designs are also a form of active learning. “It was like the reader was somehow involved in making the satirical point by physically folding the page,” he said of the Mad fold-in. “I wonder if, for a 13-year-old kid, it helps to stabilize the message when that physical participation is required.”


+ Natalie Beach’s essay on ghostwriting for Instagram influencer Caroline Calloway (The Cut)

+ Christopher Wink: ‘Journalism Thinking’ doesn’t need a business model. It needs a call to arms. (Medium)

+ This piece on influential photographer Robert Frank, who died on Monday, includes highlights from his work that captured the spirit of America. (The New York Times)