Need to Know: Sept. 9, 2019

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


You might have heard: Americans estimate that nearly two-thirds of the news they see on social media is misinformation (Knight Foundation)

But did you know: Most Americans want journalists to use social media to do fact-checking — and only fact-checking (Gallup)

A new Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found that 74% of U.S. adults approve of journalists using social media to interact with their audience — with one major caveat: They prefer that reporters use it to correct the record or give greater depth on the stories they are reporting, instead of expressing their opinions about the news. “The one thing Americans do not want to see journalists doing on social media is sharing their personal views about the news of the day,” researchers wrote. The vast majority (92%) of respondents approve of reporters making social media posts to correct false or misleading statements made by politicians, and about 90% approve of journalists using social media to share additional research or background information that went into their reporting, and answering questions from readers, viewers or listeners about recent stories they reported. 

+ Related: Ideas (you can try today) for using social media as a trust-building tool (Medium, Mandy Jenkins)

+ Noted: Spotify taps former CBS exec to help expand news offering (The Information); ThinkProgress, a top progressive news site, has shut down (Daily Beast); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newsroom donates Pulitzer to Tree of Life congregation (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); Director of MIT Media Lab resigns after taking money from Jeffrey Epstein (New York Times); Apply to become a host newsroom for Report for America (Report for America)


Make the transition from advertising to reader revenue

In our report “What it takes to shift a news organization to reader revenue,” we examine the critical elements that must be in place to build and maintain a successful subscription program. Find out what you’re doing — or not doing — that could be hindering reader revenue. 


102 story ideas to serve your community (and remember: for + with > about) (Medium, Heather Bryant)

Covering economic hardship — which nearly 70% of Americans will experience by age 60 — “isn’t about finding ‘poor’ people and doing stories about them,” writes Heather Bryant. “It’s about investigating the impact of systems and processes on people experiencing hardship.” Bryant lists 102 prompts, covering work, housing, food, health, aging, childcare, public services and the justice system, that lead reporters to help audiences navigate challenges in those areas. “In working on these stories, seek to balance the scales toward who the reporting is for and who you are working with on this reporting rather than just writing a story about a problem,” writes Bryant. “Seek partnership where ever and when ever possible.”

+ Ohio’s Richland Source launches audience “listening tour” to inform its coverage of mayoral and city council elections (Richland Source)


Facebook funds 12 more Watch shows in Europe (Digiday)

Facebook is paying European publishers like Axel Springer, Burda, Gruner + Jahr, Brut, Le Monde, BFMTV and Expressen to produce news programming for Facebook Watch. The effort represents Facebook’s most significant European news investment, writes Max Willens. It’s also a sign that the platform’s fraught relationship with European publishers, particularly in Germany, is beginning to improve. “It’s a risk-sharing thing,” said one publishing exec and new Watch partner. “I want a new business model, and they want content.”


The dangers of categorical thinking (Harvard Business Review)

Our brains use categorization as a tool for processing huge amounts of information and simplifying and structuring it so we can make sense of the world. In the business world, categorization is often used as a tool for understanding — and targeting — customers. But such labels often blind us to the variations that exist within a target audience, write Bart de Langhe and Philip Fernbach. To resist oversimplifying customer “personas,” pay attention to similarities that may exist between the groups, rather than just differences, and avoid letting personas go unexamined for too long. 


How publishers are feeling about Facebook’s News Tab (Byers Market)

Facebook is offering about 40 or so publishers around $2 to $2.5 million a year each for the rights to put their content in News Tab, a new human-curated section of the site. The offer is a win-win for small and midsize publishers, writes Dylan Byers — it’s effectively free money and it could also encourage other platforms like Apple and Google to follow suit and begin paying publishers for their content. But for large publishers like The New York Times or Fox News, the sums Facebook is offering aren’t all that impressive, and they aren’t thrilled at the idea of Facebook using their brands as a marketing tool to promote News Tab. “News Tab could be a sea change in the relationship between tech firms and the news media,” writes Byers. “Or, not. It all depends on whether Facebook can close the deal with a big enough majority of legacy publishers.”


Cronkite News on Arizona PBS is experimenting with ways to allow viewers to weigh in on the stories they want to see covered in the evening newscast. It’s using GroundSource to collect story ideas over SMS from viewers two weeks in advance and polling Twitter followers hours before the show, which is produced by students at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism. “We are all trying to answer the question of how we present and deliver news to the next generation of news consumers,” said Frank Mungeam, a former Tegna VP who is working with students on the Choose Your News project. “Who better to … come up with an answer to that question than the future consumers and the future journalists?” 

+ The Washington Post created a database about the opioid epidemic. It’s had nearly 40,000 downloads. (Poynter)