Need to Know: Sept. 26, 2019

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


You might have heard: Politicians around the world have exploited Facebook to spread misinformation and propaganda (BuzzFeed News)

But did you know: Facebook confirms that it is exempting politicians from third-party fact-checking (BuzzFeed News)

The policy has been enforced since last year, reports Ryan Broderick, and applies to politicians at the executive, national, and regional levels, including those running for office. It allows Facebook to avoid making content moderation decisions that would otherwise call into question its objectivity, but the policy’s wording leaves too much room for interpretation, say critics. It also “opens up a hole in information integrity on the platform that President Trump could exploit during an impeachment fight,” says Chloe Colliver, a lead digital researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London. “Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers should be given the scope to fact-check all content equally, no matter the source of that content or claim,” she argues.

+ Related: YouTube CEO: Politicians can break our content rules (Politico)

+ Noted: Washington Post licenses its publishing platform Arc to BP (Bloomberg); Accelerate Local announces Digital Transformation Lab for publishers of color (Local Media Association); New York Media valued at about $105 million in Vox Media merger (Wall Street Journal); Citing his falsehoods, Nicolle Wallace of MSNBC cut away from Trump’s remarks (New York Times)


Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund announces $3.3 million grant to API to expand Table Stakes

API will use the funds to manage the core activities of Table Stakes, the fund’s local news leadership development program. The program advances innovations in local journalism through intensive change-management training for news leaders. With this new three-year grant, API will scale the program by making its core lessons more widely accessible, developing new executive coaches, and creating a stronger peer network of alumni. It will also partner with the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education to include an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of the Table Stakes training.

+ API is hiring a Director of Local News Transformation to lead its work with the Table Stakes program


A roadmap for equitable inclusion (Medium, Heather Bryant)

Building or repairing relationships with underserved communities isn’t just about acquiring new audiences, building a pool of members or expanding a subscriber base, writes Heather Bryant. Bryant offers a roadmap to equitable inclusion that gets to the heart of what those words really mean: “Equitable inclusion is a moral imperative, an acknowledgement that the truest story of our world can only be written when we all participate and the best chance that we truly have to address problems, from the wicked, world-shaping challenges to the daily situations that we all grapple with.” The roadmap points to helpful resources as well as news organizations who are finding success at each step along the way.

+ A great example of a news org bringing clarity to journalistic terms and processes: “A Washington Post op-ed written by seven freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives has been credited as a key piece of information that led Speaker Pelosi to make the formal impeachment inquiry. But what is an op-ed? @errrica explains.” (Twitter, @PhillyInquirer)


Local news in the U.K. — ‘something close to a wipeout’? (Nieman Lab)

New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, who previously served as director-general of the BBC, isn’t optimistic when it comes to British media. In a speech in London on Tuesday night, Thompson named national newspapers the Daily Mail and Guardian as possible survivors of the “wipeout” that is coming for local and regional news in the U.K. He also said that national newspapers should be freed from “regulatory distractions” while a “comprehensive rescue plan” for local and regional titles is found.

+ Related: The chief executive of Archant, one of Britain’s largest regional newspaper groups, is stepping down and almost 100 jobs are at risk as the publisher stops printing its own titles after more than 170 years. (Archant just announced it is partnering with Google to build three local, sustainable news sites in the U.K. — similar to Google’s Compass Experiment in the U.S.) (The Guardian) 


How to act like a startup (MIT Sloan Management Review)

Research has shown that acting like a startup is a smart approach to digital transformation. But what does “acting like a startup” actually mean, beyond ping-pong tables, free food, and flexible work spaces? It boils down to how efficiently an organization can try new revenue experiments, and how quickly they learn from those experiments, says Jeanne Ross. Established companies that want to test new ideas need to create a culture of learning in which employees aren’t afraid to fail, she says. Having leadership that is accepting of delayed profitability is also important to a startup-like culture that enables digital success.


We need a PBS for social media (New York Times)

Instead of trying to fix social media companies, whose business model necessarily introduces toxicity into the media environment, we should consider expanding public media to include not just television and radio, but social media, writes Mark Coatney. A “PBS for social media” would ensure that a piece of those platforms would always serve the public interest. A public social media platform would not have to worry about increasing user engagement, good or bad; nor would it have to allow brand accounts, says Coatney. Users would be tied to a real-world, local identity, like a driver’s license or library card. 


‘My print-only local newspaper won’t chase Twitter likes, Google searches — just the story’ (USA Today)

In a week when Wyoming has been spotlighted for its high levels of media mistrust, a reporter based in Buffalo, Wyo., shares how readers of her print-only publication regularly appear in the newspaper office anticipating the weekly paper. “Our readers know the schedule,” she explains, “and Wednesday afternoons in the newsroom are regularly punctuated by the jangle of a large, brass cowbell hanging off the push-bar of our glass front door. Folks offer a greeting, peel a paper off the stack and drop a dollar in the wooden bowl on the front-desk countertop. Subscription copies arrive with Thursday’s mail, but many are unwilling to wait.” The Buffalo Bulletin, owned by the third generation of a local family, is delivered to more than 80% of the households in Johnson County.  

+ AP changes guidance on the hyphen. Again. (Poynter)