Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: September 14, 2018

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


You might have heard: Women in public-facing journalism jobs are exhausted by harassment (Poynter)

But did you know: Nearly one-third of female journalists worldwide consider leaving the profession due to online attacks and threats (International Women’s Media Foundation)

In a new report on the professional dangers faced by women journalists around the world, IWMF examines how how different actors are using physical and social media strategies against women journalists to intimidate, sow disinformation, discredit the journalist and the news media, and create significant professional harm. Survey respondents stated that online attacks have become more visible and coordinated in the past five years, particularly with a rise of nationalism around the world and the use of digital networks to thwart political processes. Nearly 2 out of 3 respondents said they’d been threatened or harassed online at least once — slightly more than reported physical threats or harassment. Of those, approximately 40 percent said they avoided reporting certain stories as a result of online harassment. Ninety percent indicate that online threats have increased over the past five years, including digital attacks such as having social accounts hacked or data stolen or compromised.

+ Noted: Google launches Google News Initiative Cloud Program, offers 200,000 free G Suite licenses to small and mid-sized newsrooms (Google); Become a host newsroom for Report for America corps members (Report for America); Pulitzer Center launches 5-year, $5.5 million rainforest journalism fund (Pulitzer Center); Press freedom groups launch #DefendPressFreedom campaign ahead of the U.S. midterm elections (RTDNA)


The week in fact-checking

As part of a fact-checking journalism partnership, API and the Poynter Institute highlight stories worth noting related to truth in politics and on the Internet. In the latest edition of “The Week in Fact-Checking” newsletter, how our “always-on partisan goggles” hinder actions against misinformation; fake photos and video can now be flagged on Facebook; and the Hurricane Florence hoaxes have already started.

+ API is hiring a Director of Accountability Journalism to help newsrooms report on people and institutions in power


Laying out the news: How the Atlantic and Zeit ONLINE do redesigns (Medium, Global Editors Network)

ZEIT Online’s relaunch focused on better readability, introducing innovative ways of storytelling, and the homepage as an entry point to Zeit ONLINE’s journalism. The team developed the site in an agile way, meeting every two weeks to get updates from and give feedback to designers, developers and editors and plan the next two weeks. One interesting new feature they introduced is Card stacks, a mobile format to swipe through shorter content like text, gif images, videos and quick questions that challenge the reader. The Atlantic used to gather ideas from readers that informed its 2017 redesign. “I don’t think that you need to change for the sake of change, but I think you need a change when there is something important that’s pushing you that way,” says VP of product and design Betsy Cole. “In our case we didn’t think the site was fast enough, so we really wanted to improve the performance.”

+ 9 tips to avoid spreading misinformation about hurricanes (Poynter); How to follow ONA18 from home (ONA)


Data insights from one of Denmark’s leading tabloids (WAN-IFRA)

Despite its strong data culture, final decisions at Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet rest with people, says Kasper Worm-Petersen, head of analytics. The newsroom is careful to avoid “too much noise” from numbers, which can cause paralysis and prevent acting on data insights. One thing it does is divide its custom dashboards and reports into three categories: live, tactical and strategic. “Live” dashboards are consulted minute by minute to constantly optimize performance; tactical dashboards are consulted daily or weekly, to course-correct and ensure KPIs are hit; and strategic dashboards reveal bigger-picture insights on a monthly or quarterly basis. “With dashboards, less is more,” says Worm-Petersen. “We only want to show data points that the editors and journalists can and should act upon.”

+ Related: API’s Metrics for News analytics platform provides the “tactical” and “strategic” types of data insights for newsrooms

+ Europe could hit tech companies with huge fines over terrorist content (CNN); U.K. news publishers unite to create shared ad network to better fund their journalism (Editor & Publisher)


The overlooked essentials of employee well-being (McKinsey Quarterly)

Efforts to improve employee well-being, ranging from nap “pods” to fancy snack bars, often overlook two fundamental elements, writes Jeffrey Pfeffer: job control and social support. Job control — the amount of discretion employees have to determine what they do and how they do it — has a major impact on health. Managers can play a big role in improving employee well-being by creating roles with more fluidity and autonomy, and not micromanaging. Social support is another major factor, with research showing that having close relationships can protect individuals’ health as much as quitting smoking and even more than exercising. Yet organizations often have practices that foster internal competition and reduce teamwork and collaboration. “Equally destructive are transactional workplace approaches in which people are seen as factors of production,” writes Pfeffer, “and where the emphasis is on trading money for work, without much emotional connection between people and their place of work.”


If it’s ‘news’ on Twitter, is it ‘news’ everywhere else? (The Weekly Standard)

“If you’ve never seen Twitter spiral out of control, this is how it happens,” writes Chris Deaton: “A critical mass of highly retweeted tweets flies beyond the cuckoo’s nest and gets noticed by the mainstream press. Journalists, in turn, become birdwatchers and comment.” These “flashpoints” trigger news cycles that were never subjected to editorial review to determine if they should become news, argues Deaton. “The issue is not necessarily that there is more news to cover than ever. The issue is that more people are attempting to create it — and on a platform with no barriers to entry like Twitter, self-restraint is the only way to stop the flood.”


A newspaper diminished by cutbacks prepares to cover another monster storm (The Washington Post)

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, the Raleigh News & Observer prepares to cover the storm with a staff dramatically reduced since the last direct hit from a major storm in 1999, writes Paul Farhi. But thanks to consolidation, the paper’s reporting will be supplemented by journalists from seven other daily newspapers in the Carolinas, all of them owned by McClatchy Newspapers. In all, executive editor Robyn Tomlin expects to have about 220 journalists feeding stories, photos, videos and graphics to the News & Observer, roughly the same number the paper had on hurricane coverage nearly 20 years ago. And thanks to new tools like social media and more sophisticated storm-tracking technology, Tomlin anticipates that both the quality and quantity of information it provides will be much improved. “I think we’re going to be 100 percent better,” she said. “The way people get information has changed dramatically. And so has the way we report it.”


+ From “uncool uncle” to “fun” “best friend”: Why people are turning from Facebook to … other Facebook-owned things for news (Nieman Lab)

+ What journalism can learn from the Burning Man festival and co-ops: “Recently we’ve been investigating what the news industry can learn from other member-driven movements,” writes the Membership Puzzle Project’s Emily Goligoksi. “Journalism’s traditional financial models are dying. We’re asking: could churches, environmental movements, and open-source communities hold clues to its survival?” (The Guardian)

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

The American Press Institute

Our mission

We help transform news organizations for an audience-centered future.

Our programs for publishers focus on four things:

  • 1. Understand your audience
  • 2. Get your audience to pay
  • 3. Transform your culture
  • 4. Do your best journalism
  • Find out more about API »

API solutions for publishers

What we can do for you

API offers a suite of original tools and services for solving the biggest challenges in news:

  • Decide what beats to cover and how
  • Identify and develop the skills you need
  • Assess and improve your culture
  • Drive more reader revenue
  • Drive loyalty through accountability journalism
  • Make analytics work for you
  • Contact us to find out how »