Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: September 13, 2018

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


You might have heard: Facebook is assigning users who report potentially false posts a credibility score (The Washington Post)

But did you know: CrowdTangle now lets journalists report potentially false news on Facebook (Poynter)

Facebook has expanded its effort to combat misinformation by testing a new feature on CrowdTangle, its audience analytics platform for journalists, that allows users to report potentially false news stories within the platform’s Facebook dashboards. That test builds upon the company’s existing mechanism for reporting potential misinformation at the post-level as a regular user. “We know media professionals who use CrowdTangle have a sense of the type of content being circulated that is false or misleading, especially outside the United States. Many also have an understanding of the active ecosystem of websites that generate false news,” the company stated in a post. “We want to give our partners the ability to quickly and easily report false news right where they are, inside CrowdTangle.”

+ Noted: ASNE postpones 2018 diversity survey results to seek more newsroom participation (ASNE); 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager fired after sending CBS reporter “unacceptable” message (CNN); Austin’s KUT wrestles with “serious issues” in newsroom culture (Current)


College journalism students: Apply now to be the American Press Institute Summer Fellow for 2019

The American Press Institute offers a paid summer fellowship for college students or recent graduates who have a strong desire to advance innovation in news organizations. Unlike a summer internship, a core component of the program is a self-proposed fellowship project. We’re looking for a student or recent grad who can envision building something from start to finish — such as a tool, resource, or guide — that would help news organizations make decisions in critical areas of their work.

+ API is hiring a director of accountability journalism and an audience engagement strategist

+ In Austin, Texas, for ONA? Catch API’s Gwen Vargo at today’s 2 p.m. session “Subscriptions, Metrics and the Newsroom: How Journalists are Getting Involved”; Most of API’s team is at the conference too, so be sure to say hello


Why membership and subscription serve different goals (Poynter)

Besieged as we are with subscription and membership offers from news organizations, it “feels like a natural moment to refresh our collective memory on the distinctions,” write Kate Myers and Emily Goligoski. A subscription model requires audiences to pay to access content, a transactional relationship; while a membership model invites audiences to give their time, money, connections, professional expertise, ideas, and other non-financial contributions to support organizations they believe in. Using these terms sloppily risks confusing audiences and devaluing the model that sets true membership apart. “Membership can bring audiences in as true stakeholders in the news business, and models that blur the lines between ‘subscription plus’ or ‘membership lite’ place that transformation at risk.”

+ Hear from Myers and Goligoski at ONA18 in today’s session, “Membership Has Its Benefits”

+ Related: “When folks in news enterprises say and hear the word ‘membership’ only as a slick or fluffy way to repackage ‘subscriptions’ say, with tote bag gifts they miss out on reimagining their own purposes, roles and ways of contributing to the revitalization of local.” (Better News)


EU approves controversial Copyright Directive (The Verge)

The European Parliament has voted in favor of the Copyright Directive, controversial legislation intended to update online copyright laws for the internet age, reports James Vincent. The most important parts of the directive are Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 allows publishers to demand paid licenses when companies like Google link to their stories. Article 13 requires certain platforms like YouTube and Facebook to stop users sharing unlicensed copyrighted material. Critics of the Copyright Directive say these provisions are disastrous. In the case of Article 11, they note that attempts to “tax” platforms like Google News for sharing articles have repeatedly failed, and that the system would be ripe to abuse by copyright trolls. Article 13, they say, creates an incredible burden for small platforms, and could be used as a mechanism for widespread censorship.

+ The financial benefits of major investigations (Global Investigative Journalism Network)


How writers can overcome their fear of public speaking (

Author Betsy Fasbinder once coached another author in preparation for her book launch. “I’ll never be one of those dynamic, charismatic public speakers,” the woman told Fasbinder. “I just want you to help me to get through my book launch without humiliating myself.” Does “not humiliating yourself” seem like a pretty low bar? Many writers hold self-limiting beliefs about their abilities as a public speaker, says Fasbinder. Here are a few ways to overcome that. First, remember that vulnerability can connect you with your audience, and any mistakes, handled graciously, will be unimportant if not unnoticed. Second, self-doubts often are expressed as “I’m too ‘x’” or “I’m not ‘x’ enough.” Recognize those phrases so you can nip doubts in the bud. And finally, thorough preparation can help reduce anxiety and restore physical calm.


How Trump is making journalism school great again (The Daily Beast)

“As they kick off the Fall 2018 semester, journalism professors are changing up everything from First Amendment discussions to reporter safety to how to properly address current events in class without falling down the Trump rabbit hole,” writes Matt Tullis. Said journalism professor Rory Laverty, “There’s all this stuff I want to talk about that is important, that has nothing to do with Trump, but if you let it, it will come up every day in discussion.” Many professors are spending more time advising student reporters on how to stay safe. Others are doubling down on the importance of accuracy in reporting. Tullis plans to focus more on accountability reporting, and educating students on the role the First Amendment plays in watchdog journalism.

+ Can public funding for local news increase trust in media? (Medium, Joe Amditis)


Bots and the future of automated accountability (Columbia Journalism Review)

Social media bots are actually fairly well-suited to accountability journalism, writes Nicholas Diakopoulos. They can tirelessly monitor evolving sets of data, where there is data to observe — and the vigil over their subjects never falters. They can then draw the public’s attention to inconsistencies or potential misbehavior based on that monitoring, sending alerts for unexpected observations and continuously publishing updates, simultaneously reminding the powerful they are being observed. Bots may not be able to provide enough publicity or public pressure all by themselves, however, and so should be designed to attract attention and get other media to amplify the issue the bot exposes.

+ Related: We can use robots but we still need journalists (European Journalism Observatory)

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