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Ukrainian reporter held captive by Russia-backed separatists

As Russian television cameras rolled, one of the last Ukrainian journalists remaining in the separatist-held Donbas region of the country stumbled over his espionage confession, barely five minutes long. Stanislav Aseyev’s employer and colleagues said the confession, filmed by the network Rossiya 24 and published in August, was forced and false. RELATED: The US still supports […]
Posted: March 22, 2019, 7:50 pm

The US still supports journalism around the world, even if Donald Trump doesn’t

In Ukraine, separatists are holding Stanislav Aseyev, a reporter from the Donbas region, on the eastern border with Russia. In Turkmenistan, Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a reporter for the same news organization, is under constant surveillance by police. Last year, another of their distant colleagues, Abadullah Hananzai, was killed by a suicide bomb as he raced to […]
Posted: March 22, 2019, 7:50 pm

The stakes of the Mueller report for the media

Bear with me as I go full meta. Here in the offices of Columbia Journalism Review, we’ve been struggling to figure out how to cover the rumored imminent appearance of the Mueller report. It’s a quintessential press story, if only because the Mueller report is occupying the mind of every political reporter in the country. […]
Posted: March 22, 2019, 6:19 pm

The ‘Florida man’ is not so funny sometimes

Posted: March 22, 2019, 6:06 pm

Facebook and Google are giving more lip service (and boot camps) to local news

On the heels of Facebook’s first local news conference this week, Google announced a new subscription boot camp for eight local publishers in the U.S. and Canada. The Local Media Association is partnering with the Google News Initiative to carry out the six-month program, bringing in consultants to evaluate and revamp their subscription process. “Those...
Posted: March 22, 2019, 12:51 pm

The “backfire effect” is mostly a myth, a broad look at the research suggests

“The backfire effect is in fact rare, not the norm.” Does fact-checking really make things worse? The U.K.’s independent fact-checking organization Full Fact looked at research into the so-called “backfire effect,” the idea (popular in the media) that “when a claim aligns with someone’s ideological beliefs, telling them that it’s wrong will actually make them...
Posted: March 22, 2019, 12:48 pm

After New Zealand, is it time for Facebook Live to be shut down?

When word broke that the massacre in New Zealand was livestreamed on Facebook, I immediately thought of Robert Godwin Sr. In 2017, Godwin was murdered in Cleveland, and initial reports indicated that the attacker had streamed it on Facebook Live — at the time, a relatively new feature of the social network. Facebook later clarified...
Posted: March 22, 2019, 12:00 pm

Waiting for Mueller

The Mueller report is coming. Maybe. Last night, CNN, NBC, and MSNBC were abuzz with speculation that the special counsel has all but wrapped his findings and is getting ready to deliver them to the Justice Department. Across the networks, the words “any time now” did a lot of work. On Anderson Cooper’s show, John Dean—the White House counsel who turned on Nixon during Watergate and has, consequently, seen this all before—said that he doesn’t think Mueller is done yet; the White House, Dean speculated, could have started the rumor that the report is imminent to make the process look drawn out. In the studio, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN’s crime and justice reporter, disagreed. “I don’t think we would be told a report is coming any day now if there were other indictments,” he said. Who was right? Who knows?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard, on several occasions, that the Mueller report was about to drop. In its continued absence, reporters on the Mueller beat have been busy interpreting signs. Andrew Weissman, a top prosecutor for Mueller, is stepping down. What does that mean? Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who was stepping down, is now staying a bit longer. What does that mean? Staff are carrying boxes out of the special counsel’s office. Yesterday’s speculation felt particularly feverish. But it’s hard to tell, at least from the outside, whether that reflects a change in reality or the bored angst of journalists.

ICYMI: The Washington Post publishes problematic op-ed

Triangulating clues seems necessary because Mueller’s investigation is “hermetically sealed,” as The New York Times put it. His office has been remarkably impervious to leaks; when he communicates, it’s almost always through court documents. In recent weeks, the most useful journalism has stuck to what we know for sure: The Washington Post and the Times, for instance, produced graphics linking important figures to key events. Last month, Chad Day and Eric Tucker of the Associated Press explained that we already know a great deal about Mueller’s findings; his collected court filings, they wrote, are a report hiding in plain sight. Yesterday, Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent at ABC News, struck a similar note, pointing to a “potential road map” in the form of a letter that Rosenstein sent to the Senate last year. “The bottom line,” Karl said, “do not expect a harsh condemnation of President Donald Trump or any of his associates if they have not been charged with crimes.”

Still, major news outlets are ready to move. According to Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo, the Times, the Post, and The Wall Street Journal already have stories, B-roll, interactives, and graphics “in the oven”; news trucks have been camped outside the Justice Department; the home of William Barr, the attorney general; and other places. Yesterday, photographers snapped pictures of Mueller driving to his office.

Whatever happens next, and whenever it happens, the clearest truth we have is that the report will not be the end of the Mueller story. Since 2017—when the investigation was authorized, to determine whether Russia interfered in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency—it’s been talked about in dramatic terms: as an epic mystery leading up to a big final reveal. But that’s never been realistic. As Jeffrey Toobin wrote last month for The New Yorker, Watergate “was like Shakespeare—a drama that built to a satisfying climax,” but Mueller “is more like Beckett—a mystifying tragicomedy that may drift into irresolution.” It’s a compelling analogy. Then again, who knows? A Hollywood ending could come today.

Below, more on Mueller:

  • Pregnant with expectation: The Mueller speculation has inspired more than its fair share of baby-watch analogies. Early this month, The Daily podcast from the Times released a three-part podcast series, “What to expect when you’re expecting (the Mueller report)” featuring interviews with Neal Katyal, a former government lawyer who drafted the special counsel regulations; Michael S. Schmidt, who has covered Mueller for the Times; and Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The takeaway? This is only the beginning.
  • Wait and see: According to CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “The White House press shop is on alert, but has largely kept its distance from preparations related to the Mueller report.” The White House may respond, when the report is filed, via a formal statement issued by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary, or Trump himself. Or, Trump may just tweet about it.
  • Lashing out? Trump’s attacks this week on George Conway and the Senator John McCain, who died last summer, prompted some observers to speculate that he’s worried about the impending Mueller report and is lashing out to distract attention. Such behavior is hardly unusual. “Another explanation is he’s just the same guy he’s been since June 16, 2015,” Axios’s Jonathan Swan tweeted. “Or before that. Long before that,” the Times’s Maggie Haberman added.
  • Receipts: Where Mueller is wrapping up, the House Judiciary Committee is just getting started with its own Trump probe. It recently requested documents from 81 parties; the deadline for delivery was this week. Hope Hicks—Trump’s former communications director, who is now an executive at Fox—plans to cooperate. Julian Assange—the founder of WikiLeaks, who posted hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 campaign—has said he will not, citing the First Amendment and his role as a journalist.


Other notable stories:

  • Jeanine Pirro, who was suspended by Fox News for suggesting that Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, is un-American, will be off-air for a second consecutive weekend but is expected to return, CNN’s Brian Stelter reports. Yesterday, Joseph Azam told NPR’s David Folkenflik that he quit as a senior Murdoch executive in 2017 because of the xenophobic slant of Fox News and other of the family’s properties. For The Washington Post, Sarah Ellison profiles Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert, who is in charge of Fox News’s new parent company and who may be less committed to the news arm than his father.
  • New polling by Democratic groups suggests that Republicans who watch Fox News have radically different views from non-Republicans and Republicans who don’t watch Fox—a phenomenon known as “the FoxHole.” The survey, The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani writes, shows why many in the Democratic Party have “written off the network’s viewers as a lost cause.” John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman who is running for president, is not among the naysayers: he says party bosses made “a bad decision” when they told Fox they wouldn’t host a debate on the network.
  • For CJR, Tony Lin charts the spread of Islamophobia on Chinese social media following last week’s mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. “The enormous power of Chinese social media platforms is enabling the global circulation of extremist and alt-right discourses—and China’s Great Firewall might, counterintuitively, be helping the circulation,” Lin writes.
  • Dan Peres, the former editor of Details, a men’s fashion magazine that was shuttered in 2015, will be editor in chief of the new Gawker. Peres told the Timess Julia Jacobs that Gawker 2.0 would not be as brash as Gawker 1.0: “There was a lot of gratuitous meanness and sort of misguided decision-making,” he said. Carson Griffith, the controversial editorial director hired to help launch the reboot, will stay on under Peres.
  • For The Atlantic, Taylor Lorenz writes that “the next great battle against misinformation” will be on Instagram—a platform that has largely gone under the radar compared to its owner, Facebook. “Instagram is teeming with conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes,” she writes. “Accounts intersperse TikTok videos and nostalgia memes with anti-vaccination rhetoric, conspiracy theories about George Soros and the Clinton family, and jokes about killing women, Jews, Muslims, and liberals.”
  • For CJR’s podcast, The Kicker, Betsy Morais, our managing editor, and Alexandria Neason, our staff writer, spoke with Elecia Dexter, who became editor of The Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, Alabama, after Goodloe Sutton, its longtime chief, wrote a column praising the Ku Klux Klan. Dexter soon quit her post, citing continued interference from Sutton, who still owns the paper.
  • Vice has agreed to produce sponsored content for Philip Morris, the tobacco company, promoting e-cigarettes. Alice Hancock reports for The Financial Times that the deal, worth over $6 million, has alarmed health campaigners in the UK, where the government takes a more lax approach to teenage vaping than in the US.
  • For CJR, Mark Gardiner reflects on a story he wrote about Pierlucio Tinazzi, an Italian motorcyclist who, Gardiner reported, bravely rescued 10 people before perishing in a tunnel fire. While researching a feature on the 20th anniversary of the fire, Gardiner discovered his Tinazzi story wasn’t true.
  • Finally, a programming note: I’ll be off for the next two weeks. In my absence, Maya Kosoff will be helming the newsletter. See you on Monday, April 8.

ICYMI: The White House released a troubling video last week

Posted: March 22, 2019, 11:50 am

Facebook is taking action against anti-vaccine conspiracies. But bogus medical cures are still getting massive reach.

Last month, I reported that health misinformation, particularly anti-vaccine conspiracies, is rampant on Facebook worldwide. The problem isn’t confined to one country or platform.

A little more than a week later, the company outlined a plan to curb antivaxxer

Posted: March 22, 2019, 11:30 am

Facebook: We care deeply about journalism. Please believe us

This week, journalists from dozens of small startups and non-profits joined funders and journalism academics at a small, art-filled boutique hotel in Denver to talk about how to save local journalism. There were drinks and dinners and tasteful snacks during the various sessions designed to encourage brainstorming among the 140 or so attendees, and heated […]
Posted: March 22, 2019, 11:00 am

Podcast: Clerk who took over for racist Ala. editor speaks

ON THIS WEEK’S EPISODE, CJR Managing Editor Betsy Morais and Staff Writer Alexandria Neason speak to Elecia Dexter, who briefly held the role of editor and publisher of The Democrat-Reporter in Linden, Alabama. Dexter quit last month after its owner and editor, Goodloe Sutton, wrote a column supporting the return of the Ku Klux Klan. SHOW […]
Posted: March 21, 2019, 10:28 pm

I wrote a story that became a legend. Then I discovered it wasn’t true.

In 2003, with what felt like an angel on my shoulder, I wrote a story that became a myth. It was a once-in-a-lifetime piece. An emblem for human courage in the face of adversity, and an inspiration for motorcyclists like me, that swept the world in its small way. It would have been the story […]
Posted: March 21, 2019, 6:08 pm

This fact-checker tripled its audience by listening to its readers and covering the Yellow Vest protests

In June, the fact-checking community was introduced to CheckNews.fr.

The project, which debuted at the fifth annual Global Fact-Checking Summit, was the first project launched with the support of Fact Forward, the International Fact-Checking Network’s innovation fund.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 4:30 pm

What is credibility made of?

“Here’s 4 Geppettos for your contested Pinocchios,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler on January 24. The agile politician was only the most recent to mock Kessler’s fairy tale-based fact-checking system, but her tweet also scolded him for using a paper by Jason Furman called “Wal-Mart: A progressive success story” in an […]
Posted: March 21, 2019, 3:38 pm

Why are digital newsrooms unionizing now? “This generation is tired of hearing that this industry requires martyrdom”

In January 2015, The Washington Post’s labor reporter at the time, Lydia DePillis, wrote a story called “Why Internet journalists don’t organize.” DePillis observed that many writers were individualistic and had “built personal brands” and therefore apparently had scant interest in unions and collective action. One employee she interviewed said digital media workers were “half-looking...
Posted: March 21, 2019, 3:26 pm

The New Humanitarian (no longer an acronymed UN agency) wants to move humanitarian crisis journalism beyond its wonky, depressing roots

Humanitarian crisis journalism can be tough to read if you don’t have to do it for your job. And the organizations that publish it have struggled to make it work financially, even if they’re nonprofits. Humanosphere, which covered the global fight against poverty and inequality, went “on hiatus” in 2017. News Deeply cut half its...
Posted: March 21, 2019, 2:45 pm

Why the Post was wrong to give Erdoğan a platform

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an op-ed reflecting on the Christchurch mosque shooter’s references to Turkey—a historic bridge between the West and the Middle East—in the screed he posted online shortly before the massacre. The op-ed argued that there is “absolutely no difference” between the far-right Christchurch terrorist and ISIS—both have said they want to claim Turkish land, including Istanbul, for Christianity and Islam, respectively. There was nothing immediately objectionable about the message. The messenger, by contrast, was controversial. The op-ed was authored by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s authoritarian president.

The measured, conciliatory tone of Erdoğan’s op-ed stands in stark contrast to his behavior on the campaign trail ahead of local elections in Turkey later this month. Erdoğan—whose conservative party is projected to lose control of the country’s capital—has repeatedly politicized the Christchurch massacre in them-against-us terms. During at least eight of his rallies, Erdoğan has incited crowds by playing clips from the shooter’s video, including blurred images featuring live gunfire. He has accused the West of preparing the shooter’s writing and handing it to him, among other inflammatory remarks. On Monday, the day before his Post op-ed was published, Erdoğan talked about Gallipoli, a World War I military campaign that saw the Ottoman Empire repel troops from Australia and New Zealand. Each year, thousands of people from those countries visit Turkey to commemorate Anzac Day. This year, Erdoğan warned, anti-Muslim visitors would go home in coffins, “like their grandfathers.” The governments of Australia and New Zealand reacted furiously to the remarks. In his Post op-ed, Erdoğan was the picture of diplomatic innocence. “All Western leaders must learn from the courage, leadership, and sincerity of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern,” he wrote.

ICYMI: The White House released a troubling video last week

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Erdoğan used an op-ed in a major newspaper to score political points. Last November, the Post gave him space to demand answers from Saudi Arabia over its killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Post contributor, in an Istanbul consulate. Again, it was a fine message, but again, it was disingenuous: more journalists are in jail in Turkey than in any other country worldwide. It was a similar story in January, when The New York Times let Erdoğan argue in its pages that Donald Trump was right to announce a troop withdrawal from Syria; Turkey, Erdoğan wrote, would be more than capable of defeating ISIS and “other terrorist groups,” and of starting to reconstruct Syria, on its own. Erdoğan had, of course, recently promised an offensive against US-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

Both the Post and the Times have explored Erdoğan’s true motives, and held him to account, many times on both the news and opinion sides of their papers—the Post editorial board, for instance, called out his hypocrisy three days after publishing his Khashoggi op-ed. The Post’s position on Erdoğan’s jailing of journalists is “no mystery,” and publishing him is “not an endorsement,” Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor at the Post, tells me in an email. “But we also believe our op-ed page should be a forum for a wide range of views,” he says. “We think that is the best way to serve our readers—who we believe are more than capable of evaluating for themselves what they read.”

The most troubling aspect of the Erdoğan op-eds, however, does not concern the boundaries of legitimate speech as much as their lack of context. The internet age has disaggregated newspapers and their opinion sections, spinning op-eds into standalone pieces as they circulate around the web. On those terms, Erdoğan’s Christchurch op-ed, for example, looks innocuous to all who lack prior knowledge of his latest electioneering tactics—a story, it’s safe to say, that has not penetrated the US news cycle.

The problem of disaggregation demands more thoughtful answers than “just don’t publish propagandistic op-eds.” The Post and others have worked to add context: using artificial intelligence, for example, to serve up links and opposing viewpoints. But the Erdoğan piece didn’t serve up a rebuttal, at least not to me. And links aren’t enough, in cases like this, to adequately contextualize a tyrant’s untrammeled message about a sensitive topic during a campaign season. Let him propagandize at his rallies, not in the pages of The Washington Post.

Below, more on Erdoğan and the opinion piece:

  • Jailing journalists: The Committee to Protect Journalists offers fuller data on journalist imprisonment around the world in 2018. For the third year running, Turkey, China, and Egypt between them were responsible for more than half of the total. Also last year, Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 157th, out of 180 countries, in its World Press Freedom Index, citing Erdoğan’s “massive purge” of critics in the media. That purge has included a clampdown on Cumhuriyet, a rare independent newsroom in the country. Last year, Shawn Carrié and Asmaa Omar profiled that paper for CJR.
  • A similar defense: In 2013, the Times’s public editor (remember them?) addressed reader concerns over the decision to give Vladimir Putin space to write in the paper. “From my point of view, The Times’s publishing the Putin Op-Ed was completely legitimate. Whether you agree with it or not, whether you approve of Mr. Putin or not, it could hardly be more newsworthy or interesting,” Margaret Sullivan, who now works for the Post, wrote.
  • The ghostwriter: Last year, James Rose reflected for CJR on his career ghostwriting op-eds for politicians around the world, then placing them in major newspapers. “Because I was generally at some remove from my clients, I had to get up to speed on events related to them quickly. It was also vitally important to establish my clients’ voice,” he wrote.


Other notable stories:

  • The Post’s Sullivan criticizes obsessive media coverage of the “B-boys”—Beto, Biden, and Bernie—at the expense of other Democratic candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. “In polling, in fundraising, in media ardor, they begin to seem inevitable. Invincible,” she writes. Joe Scarborough later compared another B-boy—Pete Buttigieg—to Barack Obama following the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s buzzy appearance on Morning Joe.
  • For CJR, Emily Bell writes, in response to the Christchurch mosque massacre, that journalism has “a panopticon problem: Just like the watchman in the center of Jeremy Bentham’s theoretical circular prison, we can now surveil a vast amount of human activity on the internet.” That ability, Bell writes, has led to urgent conversations about what journalists should and should not magnify. In the UK, a top counter-terrorism official waded into that debate yesterday, saying mainstream newspapers are helping radicalize far-right terrorists by spreading viral propaganda.
  • The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner has an entertaining interview with Donna Brazile, the longtime Democratic operative who this week accepted a contributor gig at Fox News. “I want you to be clear that I have my marbles. This is Donna Brazile. You are not talking to a phantom,” Brazile says at one point. “Don’t call me and act as if you are somehow appalled that a black woman, or a woman, or a liberal progressive, would go, ‘Hell, yeah, I want to go in that den.’ I want to fight from inside and fight from the outside.”
  • As Apple gears up to launch its paid news service, several potential partners, including the Times and the Post, have balked at its proposed terms: Apple reportedly wants to keep half the subscription revenue. That, apparently, has not put off The Wall Street Journal. According to the Times’s Mike Isaac, Apple and the Journal will announce their partnership on Monday. Apple is also launching a streaming video service to rival Netflix.
  • Yesterday, the European Union fined Google $1.7 billion for anti-competitive behavior when advertising on third-party websites. The penalty was the third big fine EU antitrust regulators have imposed on Google in the last two years, costing the tech giant nearly $10 billion in total, the AP’s Kelvin Chan and Raf Casert report.
  • Jared Schroeder writes for CJR that Devin Nunes—the pro-Trump congressman who attracted ridicule this week after suing Twitter and a pair of parody accounts for defamation—accidentally hit an important truth about social media companies. The fact Nunes has no chance of success “highlights the untenable level of double protection from liability that social media platforms have come to receive,” Schroeder argues.
  • For Politico, Seamus Hughes writes that Pacer, a paywalled online repository of federal court records, is a “judicially approved scam.” According to Hughes, “The US federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public,” yet despite this windfall has “produced a website unworthy of the least talented of Silicon Valley garage programmers.” Earlier this month, CJR’s Amanda Darrach profiled Hughes and the terrorism research center he helps lead.
  • And there was more bad media-business news yesterday. The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance publication based in St. Petersburg, Florida, laid off 45 staffers, slashing its newsroom roughly by half. And the Reading Eagle, a local newspaper in Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy. Peter Barbey, the Eagle CEO who shut down The Village Voice last year, belongs to one of the richest families in America.

ICYMI: WSJ reporter explains why he was fired

Posted: March 21, 2019, 11:51 am

After New Zealand massacre, Islamophobia spreads on Chinese social media

In the wake of last Friday’s shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a wave of celebration hit Chinese social media.   On Weibo—China’s Twitter equivalent, with 446 million monthly active users, 120 million more than Twitter—mainstream coverage of the attacks was barraged with comments that expressed anti-Muslim rhetoric and support for the shooter. […]
Posted: March 21, 2019, 10:50 am

Research from Canada suggests journalists’ creed can withstand government support

The Canadian government has finally announced the details of how it will offer financial assistance to the country’s struggling news media industry — a controversial policy that will lead to suggestions that journalistic independence is compromised by government funding. Under the heading Support for Journalism, finance minister Bill Morneau’s budget laid out three new measures:...
Posted: March 21, 2019, 10:00 am

The New York Times has released an open-source tool to let you manage all your internal knowledge more easily

The means for creating (and maintaining) a documentation site — or a style guide, or a knowledge base, or any other set of information frequently used as a reference — have shifted back and forth over time. Blogging software! Wikis! Flat files! Database-driven! Google Docs! GitHub Pages! Dropbox Paper! Notion! The number of options —...
Posted: March 20, 2019, 6:55 pm

With vast records of police misconduct now public, California news outlets are collaborating instead of competing

What should news organizations do when an enormous cache of newsworthy information suddenly becomes available to reporters? In an earlier era, you might have expected newspapers, broadcast outlets, and anyone else with an audience to battle for scoops, trying to get the exclusive angle or the blockbuster document that would sell papers or lead the...
Posted: March 20, 2019, 6:02 pm

50,000 first-time donors? Here’s how four nonprofit organizations used NewsMatch to the fullest

$14 million. That’s how much money might not have otherwise made its way into nonprofit news outlets’ bank accounts without NewsMatch, the three-year-old, foundation-funded, end-of-year donation matching campaign. 93 percent of NewsMatch participants said the campaign helped them raise more money than they otherwise would have. The campaign caught the budding nonprofit news sector at...
Posted: March 20, 2019, 3:49 pm

Look for the union label (it’s coming to a podcast company near you)

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 200, published March 19, 2019. Issue 200. Crazy, huh? Look, I’ve never held a proper job for more than nine months, and so it’s more surprising to me than to anyone else that I’ve sent out two hundred of these comically lengthy newsletters for...
Posted: March 19, 2019, 3:02 pm

Pittsburgh local news site The Incline finds a new home at WhereBy.Us

Two weeks ago, when Spirited Media announced it was getting out of the local news publishing business, it looked to many like a bad omen for the small group of companies trying to build metro-level, mobile-first, millennial-seeking, but relatively low-cost news outlets. But as of today, another one of Spirited’s three sites has found a...
Posted: March 19, 2019, 2:00 pm

“The widest shoulders carry the heaviest load”: A Danish socialist outlet charges membership fees based on personal income

A recently launched news outlet in Denmark is taking an approach Fox News might be intimidated by: an explicitly socialist membership scale. According to [Solidaritet.dk] chief editor Morten Hammeken, the goal is to create a media that is independent of party interests, but which has a clear socialist agenda: “Our starting point is socialism and...
Posted: March 18, 2019, 3:15 pm

Facebook enters the news desert battle, trying to find enough local news for its Today In feature

News deserts are at the core of journalism’s crisis today — the communities left behind as news organizations hamstrung by declining ad revenues focus more on the country’s coastal, wealthy, metropolitan areas. Facebook — the server of information to two-thirds of American adults, powered by digital advertising — thinks it can help, by sharing data...
Posted: March 18, 2019, 10:00 am

Is the business model for American national news “Trump plus rolling scandals”? And is that sustainable?

[From the book’s description: “In this book, C.W. Anderson traces the genealogy of data journalism and its material and technological underpinnings, arguing that the use of data in news reporting is inevitably intertwined with national politics, the evolution of computable databases, and the history of professional scientific fields. It is impossible to understand journalistic uses...
Posted: March 18, 2019, 9:30 am

Can our corrections catch up to our mistakes as they spread across social media?

During the second week of February, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a column that turned out to be wrong. What happened next was the catalyst for an experiment in journalistic transparency that we believe has huge potential: moving corrections along the same social-media paths as the original error. As Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy explained in...
Posted: March 15, 2019, 3:10 pm

A European movement encourages Facebook and Twitter to contact every person who has seen fake news

Yellow vests, fake news, wide spread. The global activist organization Avaaz released a report on how fake news has spread on Facebook around France’s Yellow Jacket anti-government movement. Avaaz found that disinformation in Yellow Vest Facebook groups and pages received over 105 million views and 4 million shares between November 1 and March 6. The...
Posted: March 15, 2019, 2:25 pm

One year in, Facebook’s big algorithm change has spurred an angry, Fox News-dominated — and very engaged! — News Feed

It’s been a little over a year since Facebook announced major algorithm changes that would decrease the amount of news in News Feed, instead prioritizing non-publisher content that spurs engagement and provokes comments. Fourteen or so months in, what does the news environment on Facebook look like? A new report from social media tracking company...
Posted: March 15, 2019, 1:54 pm

Here’s how publishers around the world are using automated news

Reports about the use of automated news in journalism usually tend to include some kind of “relax-your-job-isn’t-being-taken-by-a-machine” disclaimer, and a report from WAN-IFRA out this week is no exception. The report focuses on “the automated generation of news texts based on structured data.” The point of this type of automated content is to save journalists...
Posted: March 14, 2019, 3:42 pm

Nine local partners in Charlotte form a new reporting collaborative, with Solutions Journalism Network and the Knight Foundation

Continuing its efforts at building local journalism collaborations, the Solutions Journalism Network is partnering with the Knight Foundation to launch a nine-member collaborative focused on Charlotte, North Carolina. The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative will be comprised of: The Charlotte Observer Latinx-focused La Noticia Tegna-owned WCNC-TV QCity Metro serving the African American community NPR news station WFAE...
Posted: March 14, 2019, 2:07 pm

How to build a newsroom culture that cares about metrics beyond pageviews

Managing metrics is kind of exactly what a lot of journalists didn’t sign up for. (Statistics? You want me to do math?) But it’s exactly what newsrooms need to improve on. What stories do readers find most valuable? What kind of content moves readers along the subscription funnel? What signals show that subscribers are adding...
Posted: March 13, 2019, 3:17 pm

Collaborating at the Capitol: A new Illinois reporting service nearly doubles the number of statehouse journalists

Serving the thousand or so people of Roseville, Illinois, the Roseville Independent is an “occasional” newspaper with 143 subscribers and a Facebook page followed by as much as half of the town’s population. It now also regularly publishes explainers on the state’s government happenings and policy debates (including those still in committee!). How? Through Capitol...
Posted: March 13, 2019, 1:06 pm

“WhatsApp has come in to fill the void”: In Zimbabwe, the future of news is messaging

In Zimbabwe, multiple internet blackouts enforced by the government amid protests the week of January 19 brought the country’s social media sites and cities to a halt. Chatter in WhatsApp groups became eerily still in an online social landscape where almost half of all internet usage occurs on the messaging platform. Some media had anticipated...
Posted: March 13, 2019, 12:42 pm

Refinery29’s Unbothered is made for and by black millennial women

Diverse staff → diverse coverage → new audience members and engagement → $$$. Even when news organizations claim to believe that, they often don’t do it. But Refinery29’s Unbothered shows that if you build it right, the new audiences will come. View this post on Instagram 😛Turn up, sis. It’s your go 🌼💫. Photo: @lauriseirl...
Posted: March 12, 2019, 2:11 pm

The podcast industry is growing out of its teen years — and facing a new identity struggle

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 199, published March 12, 2019. A tipping point. The latest edition of the Infinite Dial — the long-running digital media study by Edison Research and Triton Digital that also gives us the most reliable podcast audience sizing numbers — is out and, look, you’ve...
Posted: March 12, 2019, 1:01 pm

WhatsApp fact-checking, deepfake detection, and five other AI/news projects get funding

How will artificial intelligence change society? How should journalists cover it? And how can AI actually be helpful to newsrooms and reporters? Seven organizations are getting a combined $750,000 in funding to help answer these questions, the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative, a joint project of the MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Klein...
Posted: March 12, 2019, 10:00 am

The New York Times wants to know your religion, marital status, Insta handle, hobbies, areas of expertise…

The New York Times wants to know more about you. It’s now asking readers to fill out a form detailing their contact info, online presence, occupation, race, political leanings, interests, and more. (“What are your interests or hobbies? Please be as specific as possible. For example: photography, sprint triathlons, narrative non-fiction writing, doing crosswords, hunting.”...
Posted: March 11, 2019, 4:45 pm

Trump wants to kill federal funding for PBS and NPR (again); it won’t happen, but it’s still damaging

The Trump administration released the first part of its proposed federal budget this morning, the third of the president’s term. The “blueprint” that came out today doesn’t include line-by-line funding requests for federal agencies; Bloomberg says that’s “expected later this month.” But when they do arrive, it’s expected that Trump will, for the third time,...
Posted: March 11, 2019, 4:30 pm

Sahan Journal wants to be a “one-stop shop” for immigrant news in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota is home to nearly 500,000 immigrants, and the state has a much larger proportion of Asian and African immigrants than the rest of the United States: It is the home of the largest Somali population in the U.S., and the second-largest Hmong population. Last year, Minneapolis’s Ilhan Omar became the first...
Posted: March 11, 2019, 1:54 pm

Should news orgs be legally liable for the traumatic situations they put reporters in? A landmark court decision in Australia says yes

A landmark ruling by an Australian court is expected to have international consequences for newsrooms, putting media companies on notice they could face large compensation claims if they fail to take care of their journalists who regularly cover traumatic events. The Victorian County Court accepted the potential for psychological damage on those whose work requires...
Posted: March 8, 2019, 6:14 pm

BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti: Yes to scale, yes to platforms — still

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti released a strategy memo Friday (timed to line up with his panel at SXSW) that outlined what he sees ahead for BuzzFeed in the coming year. The company was scarred by big layoffs in January, and many have begun to question the long-term sustainability of a business model so reliant on...
Posted: March 8, 2019, 6:12 pm