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Need to Know: September 12, 2018

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


You might have heard: Americans believe 62 percent of news reporting is biased, and 44 percent is inaccurate (Knight Foundation)

But did you know: What Americans say it will take to rebuild their trust in the media (Nieman Lab)

In a new survey, the Knight Foundation and Gallup asked respondents what increases or decreases their trust in news. The bad news: Most said that in recent years they have personally lost trust in the media, including more than 9 out of 10 Republicans. About a third of those who identify as being on the political right “have lost faith in the media and expect that change to be permanent.” Three-quarters of respondents mentioned perceived bias in media outlets as what caused their loss of trust, and two-thirds also cited inaccuracy in media reports. But 69 percent of those who had lost trust say it can be restored, particularly through efforts aimed at improving accuracy, enhancing transparency, and reducing bias. “The results … indicate that reputations for partisan leaning are a crucial driver of media distrust, and one that may matter more for people themselves than they realize,” the researchers wrote. However, “A major challenge in fostering trust in the news media is that accuracy and unbiasedness are often in the eye of the beholder.”

+ Earlier: Our own study showed the public and journalists agree on ways to increase trust: news orgs should offer more information about sources, explain how a story was reported, and explain their policies better; People explain in their own words why they don’t trust the news and social media (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: ASNE, APME approve merger plan to become News Leaders Association (ASNE); Gawker set to relaunch under new owner Bryan Goldberg (Variety); Journalist and Google News Initiative fellow Taylor Blatchford launches newsletter for student journalists (Medium, Taylor Blatchford); With no notice, Lee Enterprises shutters Missoula Independent, locks staff out of office (Missoula Current)


Audience engagement could be key to a more satisfied newsroom (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

The latest in a line of evolutionary changes affecting the news industry is the concept of audience-first journalism — that journalists need to embrace audiences to save their jobs, writes Matt Dulin. But what if it might also save their souls? Dulin surveyed more than 100 journalists and found that they felt more satisfied and found their work more meaningful and significant when they practiced audience engagement, which Dulin defines as using social media and analytics, as part of their job. “What they told me, and what I know from my own experience, is that there is a huge opportunity in most newsrooms to use audience engagement — in all of its forms, not just the two I studied — as a way to reinvigorate even the most skeptical journalist.”

+ As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, and two more storms brew in the Atlantic, here’s what you need to know to cover hurricanes (Poynter)


Fact-checkers were attacked online after partnering with Facebook (Poynter)

Shortly after announcing its partnership with Facebook to combat misinformation ahead of Brazil’s October elections, the Brazilian fact-checking group Agência Lupa became the target of online harassment and trolling. It began with a document circulating online that carried extensive details on the journalists involved. “We were being threatened for real,” said director Cristina Tardáguila. “I got a lot of DMs saying, ‘You’re not going to see the next president of Brazil,’ ‘We’re going to get you one by one,’ ‘Beware.’” And Brazilian fact-checkers aren’t the only ones facing down threats; at least three of Facebook’s 34 fact-checking partners have been trolled, doxxed or threatened for working with the social media company, reports Daniel Funke. Fact-checkers told Poynter the attacks made it harder for their short-staffed operations to do their jobs — especially in countries where accountability journalism is under constant threat.

+ European Union sides with free speech advocates on global “right to be forgotten” law (The Wall Street Journal)


Brands are getting more control over where their ads appear within Facebook’s platform (AdWeek)

Brands will now have more clarity and control over the sites, applications and types of content their ads appear next to on Facebook’s Instant Articles and in-stream videos, mirroring what was already available to them for Facebook Audience Network, reports David Cohen. Last year Facebook began sharing a list of publishers that were monetizing their sites and apps via Audience Network, so brands could determine if they did not want their ads to appear on any of those sites or apps. These transparency features have now been extended to Instant Articles and in-stream videos, giving advertisers the chance to review and update their block lists and lists of potentially brand-sensitive content categories where they do not want their ads delivered.


Conservatives and critics should not cheer the decline of the newspaper industry (American Conservative)

“Those who celebrate the newspaper industry’s struggles because, as they argue, a biased mainstream media needs to be destroyed are misguided,” writes Gerard T. Mundy. “A slanted press is a real problem and likely a significant contributor to the erosion of trust in the media. The proper way to confront this bias, however, is not to hope for wholesale destruction, but rather to aid in the repair of what has been broken … If one wants to tear down the necessary, one must make sure that the necessary will be rebuilt. In the case of newspapers, there is no adequate rebuilding as of right now.”


Gannett is putting a local spin on the publisher-as-agency model (Digiday)

Gannett’s USA Today Network is becoming the latest publisher to shift to an agency model to grow its share of marketing dollars, but with a local twist, writes Lucia Moses. Gannett has acquired three firms over the past two years that offer agency-like services to local businesses, and this week it rolled out a new brand, LocalIQ, to market those services. With these recent acquisitions and scale through its presence in 100-plus markets, Gannett sees local being the growth driver for the company. “We think local businesses will not only catch up but be the lead in driving the shift to digital,” said Kevin Gentzel, chief revenue officer for Gannett and the USA Today Network. “We believe local businesses who are facing fierce competition like we are from Google, Facebook and Amazon deserve the type of data-informed best practices, technology and solutions that national businesses received from agencies and consultants.”

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