Need to Know: Sept. 28, 2015

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


You might have heard: BuzzFeed has been developing an app that focuses on “serious news” and aggregates other reporting

But did you know: To attract new readers to its news app, BuzzFeed is launching a college tour with the 2016 presidential candidates (CNN Money)
With the goal of drawing more people to its news app, BuzzFeed is launching the “BuzzFeed News Candidate College Tour,” an interview series at colleges with the 2016 presidential candidates. Brian Stelter reports the tour is being announced on Monday to coincide with the release of the BuzzFeed News app’s release on Android devices. BuzzFeed says the college event series is the first coordinated marketing effort for the app.

+ Noted: Fortune launches an online business strategy program with Cornell University, and students can earn a business strategy certification by completing the program’s six courses (Business Wire); Survey of photojournalists by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the World Press Photo Foundation finds a lack of gender diversity, scarce job opportunities, and relatively low pay for risky work in the profession (Poynter); To build its new digital archive Esquire Classic, Esquire spent nearly a year scanning and tagging more than 50,000 articles (Nieman Lab)


How Vogue UK draws readers’ attention to its ads by considering the ads as important as the editorial content (Digiday)
According to research from Vogue U.K., its target market’s engagement with magazines is rising, but Lucinda Southern writes that surprisingly, their attention to advertisements is increasing as well. Southern writes that premium ads like the ones Vogue U.K. runs are valued by readers just as highly as the editorial content. Associate publisher Sallie Berkerey says that in Vogue’s survey, readers described the ads as “genuine,” “trusted” and “appealing.”

+ More on publishers’ relationships with advertisements: Some publishers are getting around ad blockers by working with vendors that sell technology to restore ads through varying methods (Digiday)


More than 200 Financial Times journalists ask new owner to meet with its senior staff to guarantee editorial independence (Guardian)
Journalists from the Financial Times signed a letter calling on its new owner Nikkei to meet with FT’s senior staff and National Union of Journalists representatives. More than 200 FT journalists signed the letter, asking Nikkei to formalize its guarantee of editorial independence and to discuss their concerns with the senior staff and NUJ representatives. Concerns were initially raised by three former FT editors in August after Nikkei agreed to buy FT from Pearson.


Facebook is rolling out updates to its Notes feature, making Notes look more like Medium (The Verge)
Facebook’s redesign of Notes is rolling out to users, with a design that Casey Newton says looks more like a Medium post. The redesign allows users to add a cover photo to a note, add photos that can be resized with captions, and more text formatting options. Newton writes that this is the first update to Notes in years, and it’s likely to go largely unused unless Facebook can attract users to use Notes as a “full-featured publishing platform.”


Publishers are distancing themselves from ad fraud and using their lack of ad fraud to differentiate their offerings (Wall Street Journal)
According to a study commissioned by online publishing trade group Digital Content Next, ad fraud rates for digital news publishers are significantly lower than the rest of the Internet. The survey found “sophisticated bots” accounted for 2.8 percent of traffic to its members’ websites, but accounted for 11 percent of traffic to participating advertisers’ campaigns. Jack Marshall writes that digital media companies are eager to distance themselves from the issue of ad fraud, and are using their relative lack of ad fraud to make their offerings more appealing to advertisers.


Highlights from 2015’s Online Journalism Awards: Winners include coverage of Baltimore riots after Freddie Gray’s death and Charlie Hebdo attacks (Online News Association)
At the 2015 Online Journalism Awards, news organizations including, The Baltimore Sun and The Wall Street Journal took home awards for coverage of events such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the riots in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death. won the award for “breaking news, small” for its real-time coverage of Charlie Hebdo, while The Baltimore Sun won in “breaking news, medium” for its coverage of the Baltimore riots. The Wall Street Journal visual staff won an award for its markets and finance interactive graphics in the category of “excellence and innovation in visual storytelling, large.”