Need to Know: September 26, 2018

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


You might have heard: Apple News shows promise delivering traffic but won’t make up for Facebook shortfalls (Digiday)

But did you know: Publishers say they’re seeing little to no ad revenue from Apple News despite huge traffic growth (Slate)

As Facebook retreats from the responsibility of bringing news to users, Apple News has been among the many platforms seeking to fill the void, writes Will Oremus. Launched to rather tepid fanfare three years ago, Apple’s mobile news app has recently surged in popularity and influence, if publishers’ traffic figures are any indication. Sources at several news outlets say they’ve seen their audience on Apple News multiply in 2018 alone. Some now say it has become one of their top traffic sources, alongside Facebook and Google. But there is, of course, a catch. Whereas Facebook sent hordes of readers from its news feed to publishers’ websites, Apple tends to keep them inside its app. And so far, publishers have found that’s not a lucrative place to be. The problem, publishers say, is that Apple doesn’t sell many ads within the app — not nearly as many as you’d find on most websites — and it doesn’t make it particularly easy for publishers to sell their own.

+ Related: Apple is talking to big newspapers about joining its subscription service (Recode)

+ Noted: Indy Star apologizes for cartoon that depicted Christine Blasey Ford demanding M&Ms and roses (The Washington Post); The Washington Post’s Arc publishing platform sprints from an experiment to a full-on strategic business (Nieman Lab); CBS names Richard Parsons interim board chairman (The Wrap); Publishers including The Washington Post, NowThis, Mic and Vice will embed voter registration links in their election coverage on Snapchat (TechCrunch); The newly launched American Journalism Project explains its mission to reinvigorate local news through venture philanthropy (American Journalism Project)


When and how to use 4chan to cover conspiracy theories (Poynter)

Heading into this fall’s U.S. midterm elections, anonymous message boards and apps like 4chan, 8chan and Discord could be valuable resources for reporters. As the birthplace of viral conspiracy theories like PizzaGate and QAnon, 4chan is especially important for journalists to understand. Poynter’s Daniel Funke offers a few tips for tracking down political hoaxes on the platform. First, and perhaps most important, remember that you don’t have to cover every single wild conspiracy theory — and by doing so, you’re playing right into trolls’ hands. Use tools like, a searchable archive of 4chan posts, or scan the Politically Incorrect message board, to hone in on election misinformation. And although it goes without saying, be “100 million times more skeptical” of content on 4chan. Don’t use 4chan as a primary source — even when other media outlets do so — and confirm everything, writes Funke.

+ A master class in how to verify a video using digital tools (Columbia Journalism Review); 7 ways journalists can access academic research for free (Journalist’s Resource)


U.K. newspaper industry demands levy on tech firms (The Guardian)

The British newspaper industry’s trade body has said the government should force tech giants such as Facebook and Google to pay an annual financial levy to fund journalism, and set up a regulator that would force them to take legal responsibility for all content on their platforms, reports Jim Waterson. The News Media Association, the umbrella group that represents almost all national and local newspapers in the U.K., also said Facebook should share revenue with publishers when their stories appear in news feeds even if users do not click on the articles. The Association blamed search engines and social media companies for taking valuable ad revenue away from media organizations, while making “no meaningful contribution to the cost of producing the original content from which they so richly benefit,” said a spokesperson.


How to help a colleague who seems off their game (Harvard Business Review)

In the era of flexible schedules, messaging apps and email, it can be easy to lose the human connection at work, writes Art Markman. Noticing and stepping in to help when a colleague is going through a rough patch can strengthen that connection and improve satisfaction and productivity for both parties. Acknowledge that your coworker seems down, frustrated or distracted; and be candid about times when you’ve struggled with projects or productivity yourself, so that they know they’re not alone in what they’re feeling. To keep the conversation from merely turning into a gripe session, try to help them make a plan to address what’s bothering them. Sometimes it may be that they’re not right for their role; in which case, you could talk to them about exploring other options. But more likely, they’re having trouble with certain smaller aspects of the job. “The aim is for your coworkers to know that they are not alone at work and to help them think about concrete actions they can take to get out of the doldrums,” writes Markman.


Rosenstein, Kavanaugh, and the curse of the news narrative (Columbia Journalism Review)

Media coverage of Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and the vote on Brett Kavanaugh, nominee to the Supreme Court, has reflected decisions by news organizations to either ignore or embrace how their reporting fits into a broader, partisan uber narrative swirling around them, writes Kyle Pope. It’s also shown how increasingly difficult it’s become for reporters to disentangle themselves from the world in which they work. “Journalism’s challenge, and its urgent need, is to find a way to pull itself out of the story,” writes Pope. “Let the news narrative be what it wants to be. But try like hell to let every story stand on its own; find a way to keep the outside world from seeping in to warp the facts or the context that every story demands.”

Earlier: Important to us doesn’t have to mean important to you: Distinguishing news from “news about the news” (BuzzFeed)


Journalists ‘should have mental health appraisals’ to combat ‘macho culture’ of newsrooms (Press Gazette)

In a journalism seminar last week, The Guardian’s head of special projects, Mark Rice-Oxley, said that mental health should be better supported in newsrooms, and suggested making mental health appraisals part of performance reviews for journalists. “How many people with mental health [issues] are in our newsrooms?” he said. “It seems to be me almost a requisite of the job … It isn’t binary, it’s a continuum and we all sit on that continuum.” Rice-Oxley said newsrooms can be “very insecure” places to work, with many journalists going without frequent feedback from their managers. “Journalists are terrible managers — in general they can be very bad and we need to rethink all of that so our newsrooms are places where the fit and the not-so-fit can thrive.”

+ Lessons and cautionary tales from 130 years of membership at National Geographic (Membership Puzzle Project)