Up for Debate

This subsection of the Need to Know newsletter offers points of debate and discussion about what’s happening in journalism.

To partner with Facebook and Google on subscription models, publishers should adopt an opt-in model

In a column two weeks ago, Frederic Filloux argued that publishers should work with tech platforms like Facebook and Google to use their data to boost subscription models. This week, Filloux responds to criticism of that point, refining the idea to include an opt-in model to help with privacy issues. “In many cases, readers maintain […]

If you don’t have a basic understanding of math and statistics, you aren’t qualified to be a journalist

At the 2017 IRE and NICAR conference in Florida, Reveal’s Jennifer LaFleur and NBC’s Ronald Campbell spoke on a panel about spreading data literacy in news organizations. Alberto Cairo was worried by some of what they said. For example, they estimated that four out of five reporters and editors they train cannot calculate percent change. […]

‘Getting to the root of the “fake news” problem means fixing what’s broken about journalism itself’

The spread of misinformation online is a multi-faceted problem with many different sources, and that means that there’s no one solution to the “fake news” problem, Shan Wang writes. Summarizing the ideas to come out of this weekend’s MisinfoCon at Harvard University, Wang writes that the weekend was focused on fixing the things that are […]

The decline of local news organizations means national news organizations are facing a growing gap with their readers

“On a day last week when the Page 1 story in the national papers was Trump’s rambling and combative press conference, the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette ran with three local stories above the fold and a piece on Sen. Pat Toomey holding a town-hall meeting two counties over. Both are legitimate and interesting coverage choices. But […]

‘Technology is already “fixing” journalism. But is it working?’

“Technologists and technology companies are already funding media, but as with many recent advancements, it’s happening to our industry. We’re all debating the merits of something that’s already begun, and in doing so we’re failing to ask the real questions,” Adam Thomas writes in response to recent debate over whether Facebook should fund journalism. Thomas […]

‘If newspapers won’t check viral stories, who will listen to them about fake news?’

On Tuesday, a video surfaced on Facebook of a female cyclist responding to cat calls from men in a van by chasing after them and pulling off a side mirror  — a video that was then reported on by news outlets like The Mirror and The Huffington Post as fact, while The Evening Standard suggested […]

A reader’s take on news’ trust problem: News organizations aren’t providing enough context, depth or understanding for readers

“It’s 2017, and it’s time to face the reality that our world is changing. That means you need to change too. I don’t think you guys realize how badly our relationship has been suffering,” USC student Darrell Florence writes as part of a series from USC Annenberg’s Media Center on how products affect trust in […]

Readers don’t trust anonymous sources, because the value of anonymous information isn’t explained to them

Many of the biggest political stories of the last few weeks have relied heavily on anonymous sources, NYT public editor Liz Spayd writes: “Reporters and editors trust such information, sometimes risking their reputation on it. Readers, on the other hand, couldn’t be more suspicious — and with reason. The descriptions generally tilt far more toward […]

‘The fatal flaw in subscription models’: Digital subscriptions now require readers to pay for each publication separately

“Paywalls rely on publishers assuming that an individual will only have one or two subscriptions, and therefore that theirs is the only content worth paying for. Yes, on a publisher-by-publisher basis, it is critical that the content they produce is valued and paid for. But on an industry level, it isn’t sustainable,” Esther Kezia Harding […]

‘The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies’

“The officials leaking [the information leading to Michael Flynn’s resignation] acted justifiably, despite the fact that they violated the law,” Glenn Greenwald argues. “That’s because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter — his conversations with Russian diplomats — and the public has […]