Need to Know: September 19, 2018

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


You might have heard: Facebook’s screening for political ads nabs news sites instead of politicians (ProPublica)

But did you know: Facebook is moving forward with its controversial Ad Archive, with a new system to decide where to include individual publishers in the archive (Digiday)

Facebook’s Ad Archive, meant to clearly identify ads that promote political stories or national issues, has been fiercely opposed by news publishers whose ads promoting their own news stories are lumped in with political ads. Facebook had relented by roping off news publishers in a separate section of the archive, but stood by its decision to include them, reports Lucia Moses. Facebook said it would start taking applications from news publishers that want to be included in the news section of the archive; using membership lists of news associations to decide whether to classify an advertiser as a news publisher. But now the company says those lists exclude a lot of publishers that are local or up-and-coming news outlets or pages of known news publishers that have dozens of individual Facebook pages. So it has partnered with The Trust Project, a global consortium of news organizations that creates standards for journalism, to create a new index that determines whether a news site is trustworthy and credible enough to qualify for the news section of the Ad Archive.

+ Related: Twitter exempts news organizations from its issue-ads policy (Axios)

+ Noted: Google is giving up some control of the AMP format, says decisions about code will be made by partially external committee (The Verge); Ex-L.A. Times Beijing bureau chief resigns amid sexual misconduct claims (The New York Times); Spain’s El País adopts Washington Post’s Arc Publishing platform (The Washington Post); New York Magazine to launch Intelligencer, a new destination covering politics, business, technology and media (New York Magazine)


How reporters can do a better job covering Facebook (Journalist’s Resource)

While many national news organizations have covered Facebook and the issues surrounding it as a national story, media scholar and former journalist Siva Vaidhyanathan argues for the importance of covering Facebook’s impact on smaller communities. “Local news organizations should pay attention to what happens on community Facebook pages,” he said in an interview with Journalist’s Resource. “That can give them early warning to issues that matter to people and uprisings or demonstrations or protests that might be in the works. The fact that people work out their politics on Facebook these days makes it imperative that journalists understand how Facebook works in their lives.”

+ Queso hunts, turkey illustrations, and invading grackles: 11 ideas to steal from the nation’s best features writers (Poynter)


Why European journalists struggle to engage with their communities (Medium, Ben Whitelaw)

After interviews with and visits to newsrooms across Europe, the European Journalism Centre found common obstacles to media outlets becoming more trusted, open and resilient. The number one thing hampering resiliency is revenue shortfalls. Other obstacles include stagnant newsroom cultures and unwillingness to change, lack of time and money to learn how to change, and lack of insight into how other news outlets across Europe are handling the same challenges. The European Journalism Centre’s fairly new Engaged Journalism Accelerator wants to be the go-to place for these questions of resilience and sustainability, writes Ben Whitelaw. “We will weave it into everything we do. Our grants will emphasise it, our events will have a track dedicated to it and our resources will major on it.”

+ A new U.N. handbook aims to explain (and resist) our current information disorder (Nieman Lab)


How an atmospheric scientist talks to religious groups about climate change (Undark)

For atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, climate change advocacy is literally an article of faith, writes Claudia Dreifus. An evangelical Christian, she travels the country speaking to community groups, many of them faith-based, about the perils of human-caused global warming. To connect with groups that may be reluctant to hear her message, Hayhoe emphasizes the importance of knowing your audience: “I try to determine the level of scientific knowledge of the audience and I strive to present in a way they’ll understand — no jargon,” she said. She also warns against overloading audiences: “When I first started lecturing, I’d show up with facts, facts, facts. And most of the questions from the audience would be would be ‘Why should I care?’ ‘How does it impact me and my family?’ ‘What can we do about it?’ So now I no longer talk just science, science, science. Instead, I connect the science to why it matters personally and what we can do to fix this problem.”


‘We can do better than strive for objectivity’ (Medium, Rob Wijnberg)

People often ask Rob Wijnberg, founder of the Dutch journalism platform De Correspondent, why the organization explicitly renounces the ideal of objectivity in its founding principles. The reasons are threefold, he says: one, “objectivity” has morphed into “having no point of view at all,” which gets away from the original point of journalism as the function that holds power to account. Second, the pursuit of objectivity is causing journalists to cover whatever everybody else is covering, for fear of being accused of having “an agenda” of their own. And third, Wijnberg thinks De Correspondent has an alternative that is much better: “At De Correspondent, we adhere to what we call ‘transparent subjectivity’, or in simpler terms: we tell you where we’re coming from.”


Jack Dorsey on ProPublica’s experimental journalism (Wired)

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is impressed with how ProPublica has used Twitter to further its journalism. “Traditionally, journalists write a few characters and tweet a link to their article and that’s it,” he told Wired. “But ProPublica threads the key parts of an article, so you end up with a thread that’s 10 tweets long.” The simple change in format makes the best use of Twitter as a platform for conversation, said Dorsey. “We asked [ProPublica] why they do that and they said, ‘We’re going to meet people where they are. They’re coming to a service that is focused on brevity, so we need to translate our stories into that format.’” Dorsey acknowledged that this is a risky move for publishers whose business is based on advertising and sending people to their sites, “but it’s important right now to experiment,” he said. “This is an experiment that’s done quite well.”

+ A Trump effect at journalism schools? Colleges see a surge in admissions. (The Washington Post); Continuing a tradition of food and solidarity, the Houston Chronicle sends lunch to the storm-beleaguered journalists at Raleigh’s The News & Observer (Poynter)