Need to Know: August 31, 2018

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


You might have heard: Some publishers stopped their Facebook ad spending over policy that treated publishers as political advertisers (Digiday)

But did you know: Twitter will exempt news organizations from its issue ads policy (Axios)

Twitter says news organizations can apply to be exempt from updates to its political and issue advertising policy, reports Sara Fischer. News outlets had protested Facebook’s issue ads policy for months after Facebook said it would put their ads in the same archive as political ads, in an attempt to provide transparency on ads bought by hyper-partisan sites to promote misleading news. Facebook eventually tweaked its policy, but some news organizations were so mad they vowed to suspend their paid promotion on Facebook. Twitter, which has been focusing on publisher relations, is trying to avoid that with its new policy. Criteria for exemption include having a searchable archive available online, contact information available online, and a minimum of 200,000 monthly unique visitors in the U.S. Enforcement of the new issue ads policy will begin Sept. 30, 2018, giving publishers and advertisers a month to apply for exemptions.

+ Noted: Man charged with making death threats to the Boston Globe over Trump editorials (Associated Press); The Financial Times will reach 1 million subscribers next year, 17 years after putting up its paywall (The Drum); Twitter is testing a feature that suggests accounts to unfollow (Slate); Judge declines to dismiss defamation lawsuit against Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (HuffPost); President Trump and lawyer Michael Cohen planned to purchase information on Trump amassed by the National Enquirer and its parent company (The New York Times)  


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 Full Fact has helped fact-checkers live fact-check political events; now Pinterest is a hotbed of conspiracy theories; and a new social media platform for American liberals that is filled with false rumors about Donald Trump.

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


Can they do that? When political campaigns use news footage (RTDNA)

What can you do if your station’s news report is used in an incomplete or misleading way by a political organization or candidate with an agenda? Unfortunately, the answer may be “not much.” Although some stations or networks will challenge campaigns for using their footage without permission, courts have generally come down on the side of campaigns, considering the material to be “fair use.” However, newsrooms should do everything they can to be as transparent as possible over the issue, and “use it as an opportunity to inform the audience about how and why this tactic is used, to serve up the entire story rather than the small segments used in the campaign ad, and to pledge fairness in the weeks ahead leading up to the election,” says Tim Wieland, news director at KCNC-TV. “Addressing the issue is a must,” agrees Lynn Walsh of Trusting News. “It’s important to explain what’s happening, why this is legal … and that it doesn’t have anything to do with you agreeing, promoting or helping the candidate [or] issue.”

+ The American Association for Public Opinion Research helps reporters cover public opinion research and polling more accurately (Poynter); “One hour of radio, one city block”: How the Murrow Award-winning show “Out of the Blocks” from WYPR brings micro-local coverage to life (RTDNA)


How Russian propaganda actually works in the 21st century (BuzzFeed)

BuzzFeed News and its partners published an exclusive report that details how the Russian government discreetly funded a group of seemingly independent news websites in Eastern Europe to pump out stories dictated to them by the Kremlin. Long before Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election became one of the biggest stories in the world, and Kremlin disinformation campaigns became a household issue, Moscow faced accusations of trying to influence public opinion in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which are all members of NATO. The revelations about the websites in the Baltic states provide a rare and detailed inside look into how such disinformation campaigns work, and the lengths to which Moscow is willing to go to obscure its involvement in such schemes.


If a loyalty program is the answer, what’s your question? (The Drum)

“Just because a particular loyalty program scheme or proposition works well for a competitor or company you aspire to, doesn’t mean it’s right for you,” writes Terry Hunt. “The allure of a shiny new program or the gravitas of a tenured and well-known scheme in the market is not a guarantee of its success.” Before launching a loyalty program or similar scheme, marketers should ask themselves, “Which behaviours is it most important to reward? What do customers expect from us? What benefits will our customers most value from us? Will this give us a competitive advantage?” “…When you ask tough questions like these,” Hunt writes, “you begin to uncover the answers that will begin to shape your solution, which inevitably leads to one thing: helping your customers win.”


Trump’s new fake news: fake social media (Axios)

“President Trump, using more anecdote than evidence, is doing unto Google, Facebook and Twitter what he helped do to mainstream media: persuade a big chunk of America they are biased — and fake,” writes Mike Allen. A new poll shows that 65 percent of self-described conservatives believe that social media companies purposely censor the right. “It’s risen to the level of being an emotional or gut issue with conservatives, like guns/immigration,” a Trump supporter told Allen. “It’s an issue that’s here to stay.” Top Republicans say this will be a major line of escalated attack at a congressional hearing next week with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Axios managing editor Kim Hart commented, “Trump has essentially hijacked the upcoming hearings. Classic Trump tactic that will likely rain on [the senators’ intended] parade on the disinformation front, and shift the focus to something that … resonates more with his base.”

+ Related: In the midst of the #StopTheBias controversy, dozens of Facebook employees unite to challenge its “intolerant” liberal culture (The New York Times); Why Google doesn’t rank right-wing outlets highly (The Atlantic)


The newspaper industry gets the tariff release it sought. Now what? (Poynter)

The newspaper industry won an important victory Wednesday, when the International Trade Commission voted to eliminate costly tariffs on Canadian newsprint that were pinching newspapers across the U.S. But the impact on prices will be delayed rather than immediate, said Paul Boyle, who has led the News Media Alliance’s lobbying on the question. And it is not even certain that big reductions in paper costs will happen at all. As with energy costs, what goes up in times of a fuel shortage does not necessarily come down when that eases. For many reasons, it is impossible to say how much of the price increase damage has been mitigated. That will become clearer later, Boyle said.


+ Teaching high school journalism in the “fake news” era (HuffPost) and how Trump has changed how teens view the news (The Atlantic): “Young people can see the president’s tweets as jokes, but they still often share his negative feelings about the press,” writes Taylor Lorenz for The Atlantic.

+ Austin’s KUT looked at the diversity of the sources in its news coverage. Here’s what they found (KUT) and how it stacks up to other public radio efforts to track source diversity (Current)

+ The women who transformed Rolling Stone in the mid-70s (Vanity Fair)