Two new features let publishers interact with readers through Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook’s relationship with the news industry has been, shall we say, a little one-sided. While the news industry depends on the platform for its growth and distribution, Facebook itself has sometimes downplayed the outsized role it plays in the news industry.

On Friday, though, Facebook announced some new additions to Instant Articles that were developed after direct feedback from publishers: the email sign-up feature, for example, will let readers share their email addresses from within Instant Articles. Similarly, publishers will now be able to offer readers the option to like their pages.

Josh Roberts, a Facebook product manager, wrote in a blog post that the new features are a result of ongoing feedback from news organizations, many of which are looking to “extend the business value of Instant Articles. Across the board, publishers want to have more direct lines of communication with their readers and drive the conversions that matter to their business,” he wrote.

Roberts wrote that Facebook has other similar projects in mind, such as a feature that would let news organizations offer free subscription trials through Instant Articles and one that would drive users to download publishers’ mobile apps.

Facebook’s status as a middleman in publishers’ relationships has been an enduring sticking point over the years. While few publishers have shunned the Facebook traffic referral firehose outright, discontentment over how the company has handled some components of Instant Articles has made some news organizations less gung-ho about publishing on Facebook itself. The New York Times, for instance, has stopped using Instant Articles.

Facebook highlighted some success stories in its Friday blog post. Slate, for example, said that the call-to-action feature helped boost its newsletter signups by 41 percent in two months. The Huffington Post said Instant Articles has become “one of our highest performing acquisition channels for driving email newsletter subscribers” thanks to the feature.

The additions are a product of the ongoing Facebook Journalism Project, which the company announced in January to “establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry.” Core to the initiative was the idea that Facebook would directly collaborate with publishers on new news products such as the one Facebook wrote about today.

In other words, while the new features are compelling in their own right, they also serve as vital PR for Facebook’s publishing outreach overall. Facebook’s message: “We’re listening.”

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Convicted scammer creates federal PACs from prison

Public Integrity - vr, 07/04/2017 - 16:53

Angelo Pesce is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Illinois for “theft by deception.” While behind bars, he’s barred from voting.

But that hasn’t stopped Pesce from apparently creating “Impeach the Assole” — a crudely named federal political action committee formed last week to raise political campaign cash — and another dubbed “Angelo Pesce Defends Pedophiles.”

No federal law prevents Pesce from forming a PAC or soliciting money for it. And he doesn’t have to tell unsuspecting donors he’s an inmate at Taylorville Correctional Center, having scammed a woman out of nearly $100,000.

Pesce’s situation is the latest reminder of a nagging problem with political committees: While most PACs follow the rules, there are few safeguards against hucksters looking to make a buck.

With some PACs, “people donating think it’s a legitimate organization, but sometimes the creators take your money and run,” said Brett Kappel, a Washington, D.C., campaign finance lawyer.

“There is no rule that a PAC is barred from buying a boat and riding off into the sunset,” added Brendan Fischer, associate counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

As a practical matter, that makes it close to impossible for a misled political donor to recover his or her money.

A message the Center for Public Integrity sent to an email address Pesce provided in paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission was not returned. The prison where he’s an inmate doesn’t allow reporters to contact inmates by phone unless they appear on a pre-approved list.

Creating a federal political committee is relatively simple: just fill out a few forms and submit them to the FEC.

It isn’t clear from Pesce’s FEC paperwork whether he meant to create a traditional PAC, which may give limited amounts of money directly to political candidates’ campaigns, or a super PAC, which may raise unlimited amounts of money to independently promote political campaigns. Pesce won’t be required to reveal until mid-summer whether his PACs have raised and spent any cash.

Either way, this is at least the second political group created by an inmate in as many years.

Two years ago, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Adam Savader, a former political volunteer who had been convicted of cyberstalking and extortion, created a super PAC named Second Chance PAC. Savader’s super PAC ultimately reported raising no money.

Then there’s the curious case of Cary Lee Peterson, a self-styled “congressional lobbyist and election campaign guru” whose purportedly pro-Bernie Sanders super PAC seemingly scammed dozens of donors out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Among those donors: “James Bond” actor Daniel Craig, who in 2015 gave $47,300 to Peterson’s “Americans Socially United” super PAC, which has repeatedly ignored the FEC’s requests to comply with federal campaign finance disclosure laws.

The FEC has fined Peterson’s PAC, and agency officials confirmed Tuesday that this fine remains unpaid. There’s little evidence indicating Peterson’s PAC used more than a token amount of the money it raised to promote Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Where the rest of the money it raised went remains a mystery.

And last year, the FBI arrested Peterson on unrelated criminal fraud charges related to his business ventures. The Securities and Exchange Commission also has a civil complaint pending against Peterson alleging multiple counts of securities fraud.

Some government officials have attempted to address these so-called “scam PACs” — groups that solicit money using the names of candidates but then spend little or no money on politics.

For example, the oft-gridlocked FEC, whose commissioners agree on almost nothing, have nevertheless been united in asking Congress for more authority to deal with scam PACs.

But to date, Congress has ignored the FEC’s requests.

Unscrupulous PACs could continue to hoodwink less sophisticated donors, commissioners and campaign finance experts say, as efforts to tighten PAC rules and increase oversight have so far failed.

In other words, the FEC can’t really do much to shut down these groups, even if they do have the mailing address of a state prison, as is the case with Pesce’s PAC.

(Update: 10:51 a.m., April 7, 2017: The FEC on April 6 sent Pesce a letter asking him to verify the accuracy of his "Impeach the Assole" PAC filing. The letter reminds Pesce that it's illegal to "knowingly and willfully" make a "materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation to a federal government agency" and asks him either verify the accuracy of his PAC filing, amend any false information or withdraw the filing. Pesce has until May 6 to respond.)

In 2004, Pesce stole $93,534 from a woman by falsely presenting himself as a commodities trader, according to a DuPage County, Illinois, press release. Pesce pleaded guilty to theft by deception but fled before he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison.

Police arrested Pesce in 2014. He began serving his sentence in Taylorville in 2015, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said inmates are permitted to receive money electronically. And while Illinois corrections law prohibits inmates from “engaging in an unauthorized business venture,” it’s silent on the specific issue of inmates forming political committees.

Pesce “would be wholly responsible for complying with any laws and regulations governing political action committees,” Wilson said.

One potential problem for Pesce: the banking address he lists for one of his PACs does not correspond to that of a bank at all. Instead, it’s a Motel 6 in suburban Chicago.

The FEC forms he submitted included a notice that PAC filings with “false, erroneous, or incomplete information” are subject to civil and/or criminal penalties.

This article was co-published by TIME, NBC News, Public Radio International, the Buffalo News and Philly.com.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

‘John de Mol krijgt zeggenschap nu Sanoma SBS verlaat’

Villamedia Nieuws - vr, 07/04/2017 - 16:40
Talpa, het mediabedrijf van John de Mol krijgt de zendergroep SBS (SBS 6, Veronica, Net 5 en SBS 9) in handen, melden ingewijden aan het Algemeen Dagblad.…
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

More kudos for 'Panama Papers' project

Public Integrity - vr, 07/04/2017 - 15:47

April 7, 2017: This story has been updated

The “Panama Papers” project published by the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has this week been honored in three prestigious journalism competitions, the latest in a series of awards for the landmark international collaboration.

“Panama Papers” won two prizes in the 2016 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards: Innovation in Investigative Journalism — Large and the Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. Judges said the international consortium “showed exceptional ingenuity and skill by developing new tools and approaches that facilitated the unprecedented collaboration, and demonstrated a new model for journalistic cooperation to expose dealings of hundreds of thousands of entities.”  

Investigative Reporters & Editors, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit national organization dedicated to training and supporting journalists who pursue investigative stories. 

“Panama Papers” also received the O’Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism from the American Society of News Editors. Judges in that contest said the project was honored “because of the breadth of its reporting, the strength of the partnership that yielded this effort and the global impact that resulted.”

(Update, April 7, 2017, 9:47 a.m.: The White House Correspondents' Association recognized the project with an honorable mention in its annual journalism awards, as well.)

These latest prizes marked the sixth, seventh and eighth major American journalism awards for “Panama Papers,” which was published last spring. The international consortium was a project of the Center for Public Integrity when the Panama Papers series was published but has since spun off into a separate entity.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

What is the right amount of money to throw at the fake news problem?

Critics say the bill would limit free speech, and on Wednesday, Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the digital single market, told European Parliament (echoing remarks he’d made previously), “We have to believe in the common sense of our people. Fake news is bad, but a Ministry of Truth is even worse…We need to address the spread of fake news by improving media literacy and critical thinking.” At least in the U.S., the audience for fact checks has become somewhat partisan; research here last year found that Democrats view fact-checking more favorably than Republicans. “At a time of no trust in the media, why would the voter trust the [fact-checker] over the politician he or she supported?” Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, asked recently at a fact-checking summit in D.C.

Facebook: “No, no, don’t worry, we’ve got this.” An “educational tool for spotting fake news” will appear at the top of users’ News Feeds in 14 countries, Facebook announced Thursday. If you click on it, it links to “more information and resources in the Facebook Help Center, including tips on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source and looking for other reports on the topic.” It was developed in partnership with First Draft. These are the tips:

Facebook also “plans to pay fact-checkers to monitor news on its platforms in response to sustained criticism that it has not been doing enough to crack down on fake stories,” reports Madhumita Murgia for the Financial Times.

Quote from Mosseri says they're "open" to paying checkers, but it's not underway. Suspect they need to do this to get more German checkers. https://t.co/Jq7NLHp1So

— Craig Silverman (@CraigSilverman) April 6, 2017

“It’s not porn, it’s not hate or guns”: “More than 60 websites publishing fake news are earning revenue from advertising networks and most of them are working with major networks such as Revcontent, Google AdSense, and Content.ad,” BuzzFeed News’ Craig Silverman, Jeremy Singer-Vine, and Lam Thuy Vo report. Continuing with the whole “it’s not fake news, it’s satire” claim, Google told BuzzFeed that some sites “continue to show AdSense ads because they include disclosures that their content is satirical and they don’t fit the company’s definition of misrepresentative or deceptive content,” while Taboola CEO Adam Singolda said, “While there are different definitions of what ‘fake news’ is, we assume it to include a deliberate intent to deceive and cause harm to consumers. The stated goal of these sites that you sent us is to entertain through parody, we believe.” There is a lot of satire out there!

BuzzFeed conducted part of its analysis with the coauthors of the new Field Guide to Fake News; those authors summarized their work for us here. They stress that fact-checking is not enough to combat fake news: “‘Thicker’ accounts of how fake news circulates may also suggest the limits of approaches to fake news that predominantly focus on fact-checking, debunking, and flagging fake news items — which might imply that fake news thrives because of a deficit of factual information, downplaying its affective resonance or emotional appeal.”

$100 million to promote “global trust.” eBay founder/billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s philanthropy, the Omidyar Network, announced it’s committing $100 million over three years to support investigative journalism and fight fake news. The first organizations to get funding: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which was behind the exposure of the Panama Papers; the Latin American Alliance for Civic Technology; and the Anti-Defamation League, which will use the money to build “a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online.”

The fight against misinformation, authoritarian lies, and online abuse is a fight we can win. https://t.co/RxBWy64pLn

— Pierre Omidyar (@pierre) April 4, 2017

Also in funding news this week: The News Integrity Initiative, a $14 million project “to advance news literacy, to increase trust in journalism around the world, and to better inform the public conversation,” funded by Facebook and Craig Newmark, among others, and run out of CUNY.

Illustration from L.M. Glackens’ The Yellow Press (1910) via The Public Domain Review.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Commissariaat legt NPO dwangsom op om kaartjesacties

Villamedia Nieuws - vr, 07/04/2017 - 15:04
NPO Radio 2 en 3FM hebben zich volgens het Commissariaat voor de Media structureel voor het karretje van concert- en festivalorganisatoren laten spannen. En hebben zich daarmee dienstbaar gemaakt aan commerciële belangen van een derde partij, hetgeen…
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

With Push, small publishers have a cheaper, quicker way to develop their own mobile apps

Does every news organization need an app? It’s been a sticky question since Apple opened up the App Store nearly a decade ago. The app pendulum has swung in both directions multiple times over the years: For some publishers, apps remain an essential part of the distribution formula, while for others, developing an app is a waste of time and resources.

Christopher Guess can’t say if developing a news app is always the right call, but he wants to make doing so within reach for any news organization that opts to invest in one. Guess is the developer behind Push, an open source iOS and Android app designed to cut down on the time and effort it takes for news organizations to develop news apps. It’s aimed at small-and mid-sized teams that lack the developer resources and capital to create their own apps from scratch.

By Guess’s estimation, the typical news app can take at least six months and cost $50,000 to develop. Using Push, though, a single developer can develop an app within a few days. “With the current financial situation for newsrooms, the economics are impossible,” said Guess, who developed the app during a two-year ICFJ Knight fellowship. “If you want a mobile app as a small newsroom, you’re pretty much completely out of luck unless you’re owned by one of the big newspaper companies.”

News apps built on Push look and function as you would expect, with features that include caching for offline reading, built-in search functionality, video support, and as its name suggests, support for push notifications. The app also lets news organizations integrate donation features.

Since its launch in late 2015, Push has gained the bulk of its traction in Eastern Europe, where 10 publishers are in some stage of using the software to develop their own apps. For news organizations such as Serbia’s Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) and Azerbaijan’s Meydan TV, Push’s features — particularly its Push notification support — opened up a new way to keep readers engaged. The early Push users, all of which are affiliated with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, have embraced push notifications because they offer a way to notify readers when new pieces are published. That’s important for investigative news outlets, which don’t publish as frequently as the typical site.

“When people visit a site, they want to see brand new things every single time. If you can’t supply that because of resource constraints, you fall off the radar. With push notifications, you stick right there,” Guess said. “Even if users haven’t opened the app for a month, you can still get their phone buzzing. That’s a really big deal for these small publications that need that attention.”

Of course, just because you develop an app doesn’t mean that people will use it. U.S. smartphone users spend nearly three quarters of their time within just three apps, according to comScore. Still, the app remains a powerful distribution channel, particularly for news organizations looking to develop direct relationships with readers. Big platforms’ interests often diverge from those of news organizations. Organic reach on Facebook, long a vital traffic source for publishers, continues to shrink: MarketingLand, citing a report from social publishing tool SocialFlow, said that organic reach declined 52 percent from January to June of 2016.

The ever-shifting reality of news organization-platform relations means that many news orgs are hungry for ways to interact directly with their readers. “This is all about staying in touch with users without those intermediaries,” Guess aid.

It’s an idea that appeals to local news organizations as well. Last month, the Center for Cooperative Media announced plans to help five New Jersey news organizations (Banana Tree News, Delaware Currents, Hudson County View, Route 40, and Planet Princeton) develop their own apps using Push’s software. The project is part of NJ Mobile News Lab, which the Center for Cooperative Media started in an effort to “bridge the innovation gap” between large and small publishers, said Joe Amditis, the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media.

“Large publishers have the ability and flexibility to play around with different tools, try new things, fund exciting new innovative projects. Their reserves of capital and audience loyalty allow them to do so without much fear of the consequences,” he said. “We want to help the smaller publishers compete by helping everyone recognize the value of collective input.”

The project is still in its early stages, but Amditis said that the goal is to collect data on the publishers’ Push apps to evaluate what works and what can be tried elsewhere. The Center for Cooperative Media is particularly interested in the revenue impact of the efforts. “Hopefully we can try to replicate some of the sustainability we see in some of the larger organizations at the local level,” Amditis said.

Guess, who this week was awarded a Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute fellowship at the University of Missouri, has other plans for Push as well. He aims to use the fellowship to build more features into the app, including support for more content management systems, increased anti-censorship tools, and increased automation and stability.

“The ultimate goal here is to help news sites make apps that feel essential to their readers,” said Guess.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Google Fact Check wereldwijd beschikbaar

Villamedia Nieuws - vr, 07/04/2017 - 11:16
De in oktober door Google gelanceerde dienst Fact check, is nu wereldwijd beschikbaar voor zowel Google Nieuws als bij de zoekresultaten.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Vreemde dictators

Apache.be - vr, 07/04/2017 - 10:37
Een oude favoriet in de gedragswetenschappen, die vaak uit de kast wordt gehaald om aan te tonen dat we niet ‘rationeel’ zijn, is het experiment dat bekend staat als het Dictatorspel. Volgens de conventionele economische theorie worden mensen verondersteld te handelen om hun eigen economische nut te maximaliseren. Dit is niet wat wordt waargenomen in dit experiment, en dus levert het een aanwijzing voor ons ‘irrationeel’ altruïsme.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

63 nieuwe schadevergoeding-eisen om afluisterschandaal Groot-Brittannië

Villamedia Nieuws - vr, 07/04/2017 - 09:29
Nadat onlangs al 28 mensen een schadevergoeding eisten omdat ze meenden slachtoffer geworden te zijn bij het afluisterschandaal van Britse kranten, eisen nu nog eens 63 mensen een schadevergoeding bij het Britse gerechtshof. Dat meldt…
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

De schimmige oorlogsboer achter Donald Trump

Apache.be - vr, 07/04/2017 - 08:42
Wie is Erik Prince, de man die Donald Trump deze week in moeilijke papieren bracht? Portret van een zeer omstreden figuur.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Telegraaf wint kort geding om verspreiding telefoonnummer redacteur

Villamedia Nieuws - vr, 07/04/2017 - 08:35
Ferdy Roet, oprichter van stichting Loterijverlies, had niet het telefoonnummer van Telegraaf-verslaggever Bart Mos mogen verspreiden onder zijn leden. Dat heeft de kortgedingrechter donderdag bepaald. Roet verspreidde het nummer van Mos omdat hij…
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Koro 7 april ’17

Apache.be - vr, 07/04/2017 - 08:21
Het rubriekje van Bert Verhoye waarin onze hysterische wereld geconfronteerd wordt met problemen, die geen problemen zijn.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Blendle-bedenker doet stap terug

Villamedia Nieuws - vr, 07/04/2017 - 08:18
Marten Blankesteijn, een van de oprichters van Blendle, doet een stap terug bij de digitale kiosk. Dat maakt hij bekend op het blog van Blendle.…
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

What does fake news tell us about life in the digital age? Not what you might expect

Editor’s note: The first three chapters of a remarkable new document, A Field Guide to Fake News, are being released at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. The guide, the work of a team of scholars, explores new and more subtle ways of looking at the fake news phenomenon — and, through it, how our lives are mediated in an age of data, platforms and algorithms. Below, three of its coauthors summarize some of what they’ve found; don’t forget to check out the full document.

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Five months after the U.S. elections, fake news remains high on media, political, and public agendas, having sparked a wave of concern, responses, and counter-responses in countries around the world.

Media and technology companies have established major new projects and charged ten-thousand-person units with dealing with it — leading to concerns about “band-aid solutionism.” Governments and public institutions have launched consultations, programs, and investigations to research and respond to the issue, including state-sponsored debunking initiatives in regions from Russia to the European Union, as well as proposals for multi-million euro fines.

The term has become a keyword for both media institutions and the political mobilizations who contest them. Driven by countless reports, position papers, analyses, columns, reflections, op-eds, startups, imitators, accusations, and parodies, and despite numerous attempts to declare the issue “dead,” “meaningless,” or itself “fake” — the issue endures, like a prolonged argument where no one’s able to have the last word.

Amidst all of the panic, finger-pointing, hype, bandwagons, and fatigue, what are we to make of this highly mediatized and politicized issue? How are we to understand and collectively respond to the phenomena which are the center of concern? As a network of researchers specialising in digital methods for social, political, and cultural inquiry, over the past few months, we’ve been engaged in a number of projects to trace the production, circulation, and reception of fake news online — and to see how we might bring fresh perspectives and unfamiliar angles to the public debate.

It’s a fascinating object of inquiry — not in spite of but precisely because of its highly contested and hotly debated character — which tells us just as much about the character of infrastructures and social institutions whose functioning we may not usually notice as it does about their weaknesses, failings, and blind spots.

The concern is not just that these infrastructures and institutions are being gamed and exploited (as they routinely are by advertisers, media, and technology companies, politicians, and by many other organizations and professions), but rather the feeling that the social rules and norms that normally bind us together are being violated — whether for fun, profit, or (geo-)political gain.

But in following fake news online, we encounter not just rogue producers, state propagandists, geopolitical fault lines and hyperpartisan mobilizations. We also learn about the patterning and politics of collective life online, and the consequences and logics of the different technological and economic modes of organization that undergird it.

Here we have the uncanny feeling that, in hot pursuit of the perpetrator, we discover a trail of evidence leading to our own doors. As media scholars Mike Ananny and Kate Crawford recently pointed out, the platforms and algorithms at the center of fake news controversies can be understood not just as “black boxes,” but also as “relational achievements” that involve and evolve alongside our own lives online.

One can certainly make the point that the person holding the weapon is not necessarily the only one with blood on their hands. But we also wish to suggest that the issue of fake news can be leveraged as an opportunity for public reflection, political economic imagination, and more thoughtful, attentive, and potentially ambitious interventions around the organization of the platforms and infrastructures which pattern our lives in the digital age.

Beyond becoming more efficient and effective at what is often described as the “whack-a-mole” game of cracking down on fake news (including using new technologies to semi-automate social and political acts of judgment and classification), what can we learn about our societies, ourselves, and life in an age of digitization, datafication, and platformization? How might we effect a shift from thinner descriptions of fake news producers and their strategies towards thicker descriptions of the ecologies in which they thrive? And what and how might we learn from these richer accounts?

Below are four ways of seeing fake news differently, drawing on our ongoing research collaborations around A Field Guide to Fake News with the Public Data Lab. The guide focuses not on findings or solutions, but on starting points for collective inquiry, debate, and deliberation around how we understand and respond to fake news — and the broader questions they raise about the future of the data society.

Fake news challenges clear-cut, binary conceptions of fakeness

As many have pointed out, there are many different kinds of fake news. Or, as we put it in a forthcoming paper with colleagues, there are many different “shades of fakeness.”1 So much is evident in what one might call “controversies of classification” (around a list of false, misleading, clickbaity, and satirical sources by Melissa Zimdars, for instance), as well as in difficulties encountered around early attempts to fully automate the identification of fake news.

We have sought to develop digital methods and approaches for exploring what has been associated with the “fake news” label. One thing we established was that the meaning and significance of a given piece of content can vary significantly over time and across different settings. For example, from tracing the life cycles of fake news on Google search engine results, we found that a story that starts life as explicitly satirical can become “laundered” into clickbait and shared as a news source, and then shared again as an example of hyperpartisan misinformation or geopolitical disinformation.

Just as with works of art or literature, the meaning of a fake news story or image cannot be sharply separated from different ways of seeing, cultures of reading, or traditions of interpretation around it. Rather than focusing exclusively on its formal properties in terms of binary conceptions of “facticity,” truth value, or informational content, this would suggest a richer look at the settings in which it is shared and the breadth of meaning-making practices around it — whether satire or solidarity, irony or provocation, resentment or condemnation.

Fake news challenges sharp distinctions between content and circulation

It is not simply by virtue of its “falseness” that something becomes fake news, but also through the character of its circulation — including the speed, scale, and nature of sharing. In particular, recent concerns around fake news are directly related to the threat of its accelerated circulation on the web and online platforms. Hence many attempts to fight fake news focus on material which is trending or gaining significant traction or engagement online.

In the Field Guide, we suggest that this circulation represents more than just the popularity of fake news, but is itself an integral part of understanding what it is and what it means. We also look at ways to explore this circulation beyond the aggregated counts of likes, links, shares, or posts that are often included as part of off-the-shelf social media metrics.

By looking more closely at how fake news moves and mobilizes people, we can develop a richer picture of not only how much it circulates where, but also why it circulates and how it resonates amongst different publics. For example, on Facebook we can look not just at total shares, but also the specific public groups and pages where it is shared, as well as a closer qualitative analysis of how it is shared and what is meant by sharing it.

Understanding this is also critical to ensuring that responses are attuned to the phenomena that they seek to address.

“Thicker” accounts of how fake news circulates may also suggest the limits of approaches to fake news that predominantly focus on fact-checking, debunking, and flagging fake news items — which might imply that fake news thrives because of a deficit of factual information, downplaying its affective resonance or emotional appeal.

Fake news is made possible by the technological and economic underpinnings of the web and digital platforms

Over the past few decades, many responses to misinformation have focused on mapping and debunking claims made or repeated by politicians, journalists, or other public figures. In the guide, we explore ways of looking beyond the content and circulation of claims by examining the technical infrastructures and economic models which underpin them.

For example, we look at how data about web trackers can be used to understand things like how fake news websites are associated, how they may make money, how their economic models differ from mainstream media organizations’, and how they change over time. We also explored this in a recent collaboration with Craig Silverman and his colleagues at BuzzFeed News.

Of course, this tells us not only about how fake news websites make money, but about the broader political economic organization of the web and digital platforms, and their associated advertising networks and partners.

Fake news websites and initiatives that respond to them often have different publics

Finally, we look at different ways of exploring responses to fake news — including their methods and publics. While many fact-checking initiatives focus on providing “truthy” followup articles and “factish” corrections, we look at where these circulate and how successful they are at reaching the publics of fake news on different platforms and in different settings.

For example, we examine how to compare the Facebook groups where popular fake news articles are shared, and the groups where fact-checking responses gain traction. In the case of a set of highly shared fake news stories, the most widely shared fact-checking responses only appeared in a handful of the hundreds of groups where the former were circulated.

Just as social researchers have become accustomed to working with “the shadows cast by our presence as explorers in the field,” as Shannon Mattern puts it, so we might hope that conceptions of journalistic objectivity might come to include the role that journalists and media organizations themselves play in shaping norms, expectations, and institutions of knowledge production in the digital age — as well as ways to understand and relate to so-called “post-truth” publics who feel that these institutions are failing them.

Jonathan Gray of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath, Liliana Bounegru of the University of Groningen and the University of Ghent, and Tommaso Venturini of the Institute of Complex Systems at the University of Lyon are collaborators in the Public Data Lab.

Top image cropped from The fin de siècle newspaper proprietor by Frederick Burr Opper.

  1. M. S. Abildgaard, A. Birkbak, L. Bounegru, J. Gray, M. Jacomy, A. K. Madsen, A. K. Munk (forthcoming) “Fake News: Seven Lines of Inquiry.”
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Johan Groeneveld (57) hoofdredacteur ANP

Villamedia Nieuws - do, 06/04/2017 - 18:37
Johan Groeneveld (57) is per direct benoemd tot hoofdredacteur van het ANP. Groeneveld volgt Marcel van Lingen op, die sinds kort samen met Martijn Bennis de nieuwe directie vormt van het ANP.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Workers cheated as federal contractors prosper

Public Integrity - do, 06/04/2017 - 17:12

For 11 years, Karla Quezada assembled sandwiches at the Subway in the food court of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, a sprawling complex in downtown Washington, D.C., owned by the U.S. General Services Administration.

She routinely worked more than 40 hours a week, with no overtime pay. She worked holidays, also without extra compensation. Her paychecks took a hit whenever she stayed home sick.

"I knew it was a federal building, but since everyone else was paying low wages, too, I just figured that's how it was supposed to be," Quezada, 40, said in a recent interview at her home in Arlington, Virginia.

Actually, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. But each year, thousands of contractors enriched by tax dollars skirt federal labor laws and shortchange workers. In fact, U.S. Department of Labor data show that upwards of 70 percent of all cases lodged against federal contractors and investigated by the department since 2012 yielded substantive violations.

But many of these violators go on to receive more federal contracts. An Obama administration effort to change that practice was derailed in late March by President Donald Trump. 

The Center for Public Integrity examined a subset of 1,154 egregious violators — those with the biggest fines, highest number of violations or most employees impacted — included in the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division enforcement database and cross-referenced them with more than 300,000 contract records from the Treasury Department. The Center found that between January 2015 and July 2016:

  • Federal agencies modified or granted contracts worth a total of $18 billion to 68 contractors with proven wage violations. Among them: health-care provider Sterling Medical Associates, Cornell University and Corrections Corporation of America
  • Of all agencies, the U.S. Department of Defense employed the most wage violators — 49, which collectively owed $4.7 million in back pay to almost 6,200 workers. The department paid those 49 contractors a combined $15 billion.
  • Violations by the 68 contractors affected some 11,000 workers around the country — about the same number of people who moved to D.C. in 2016.

Federal contractors account for almost a quarter of the American workforce and took in more than $470 billion in taxpayer funds in 2016, according to USASpending.gov. But the government’s methods for tracking labor-law scofflaws are unreliable, making it easy for violations to go unnoticed. Even when violations are documented, they rarely play a role in contracting decisions.

The Labor Department tried to address the problem in 2016 with a rule that would have required federal contractors to disclose wage and safety violations and come into compliance with the law if they wanted to keep doing business with the government. Invoking a statute rarely used prior to the Trump administration, however, Congress voted to undo the regulation — already on hold because of a legal challenge — and Trump sealed its fate with his signature.

In a statement in February, the White House said the rule “would bog down Federal procurement with unnecessary and burdensome processes…” Now that it has been repealed, labor advocates say more cases like Karla Quezada’s can be expected.

In 2013, having worked at Subway more than a decade, the native of El Salvador filed a complaint with the Labor Department, seeking thousands of dollars in back pay. She recalls regularly working up to 15 hours of overtime each week, but says she was never paid the time-and-a-half owed to her under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Some weeks, her pay stub wouldn’t explicitly say how many hours she had worked; other weeks, she would get two stubs — as if she had worked less than 40 hours at separate Subway locations.

“Sometimes, out of necessity, you just work,” Quezada said in Spanish. “I’m a single mom, and I would work from 6 to 6 sometimes, more than 40 hours. To me, the check seemed okay, but I’ve come to realize they were cheating.”

Quezada and other food-court workers at the Reagan building, organized by the labor group Good Jobs Nation, went on strike 15 times from 2013 to 2016. Management, she said, cut her hours sharply in response and threatened to call immigration officials on workers who were undocumented. Quezada, a permanent U.S. resident, said she encouraged them to continue striking.

In 2014, the White House recognized Quezada as a “Champion of Change" for her efforts. But the reduction in her hours forced her to quit, she said. She took on two part-time jobs that together pay less than her old one, and she and her 12-year-old son had to move into a single room in a relative’s apartment. Her two older children remain in El Salvador.

After two years, the Labor Department found in Quezada’s favor, but the statute of limitations and missing documentation led to an unsatisfying payout: $226.

“I’ve had to deprive my kids of many things,” she said. “We ended up completely screwed."

Investigators determined that the Subway in the Reagan building owed eight workers, including Quezada, about $3,000 in back wages. They opened investigations into the eight other Subways owned by Quezada’s employer, Amer Ghalayini, and found wage violations affecting 28 workers.

The Labor Department reached a settlement with Ghalayini, who agreed to pay more than $33,000 in back wages and damages while admitting no wrongdoing. The department also found overtime and minimum-wage violations at four other restaurants in the Reagan building’s food court.

The Subway that employed Quezada is licensed by Trade Center Management Associates, which holds a contract with the General Services Administration to operate restaurants in the Reagan building. Officials at Subway’s corporate offices and at Trade Center Management Associates declined to comment.

Reached by phone, Ghalayini disputed Quezada’s claims but declined to elaborate.

“What happened, happened,” he said.

‘I feel like I’m being robbed’

In theory, ensuring federal contractor compliance with labor laws should be easy. In practice, it’s complicated.

The task of policing the nation’s businesses lies with the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. Established under Franklin D. Roosevelt and long housed in the department’s Employment Standards Administration, the division enforces laws governing pay, family and medical leave and visas, among other things. When the administration was abolished in 2009, its four components — Wage and Hour and the offices of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Labor Management Standards and Workers’ Compensation Programs — became stand-alone divisions. Since then, the Wage and Hour Division’s budget has remained relatively flat; it was $227.5 million in fiscal year 2016.

The division relies heavily on complaints from workers to identify delinquent employers, placing the workers in a precarious position while they try to retrieve the wages they believe they're owed. Once a case enters the system, it can stagnate because of employer appeals or disputes over legal technicalities.

In fiscal year 2011, the division took, on average, six months to resolve a complaint and closed 33,000 cases. In fiscal year 2016, the average complaint was resolved in four months but only 29,000 cases were closed.

It’s often hard for workers to know what exactly constitutes wage theft — a $50 billion-a-year problem in the U.S., one 2014 study found — since it can take so many forms. Employers can skirt overtime regulations or artificially depress wages. Or, workers can be asked to perform increased responsibilities without a corresponding bump in pay, a potential violation.

Obama’sFair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, which led to last year’s rule, was supposed to ensure that wage and other labor violations were taken into consideration during the contracting process. The order came on the heels of a 2013report by Senate Democrats, which found that 49 companies collectively cited for 1,776 violations between 2007 and 2012 were awarded $81 billion in federal contracts in 2012.

When contractors don't follow the law, workers like Latoya Williams feel the squeeze.

As a senior customer service representative for a subcontractor to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Williams spends her days helping agents, homeowners and mortgage companies untangle the details of the National Flood Insurance Program. Most calls are routine, but sometimes distraught homeowners need help filing a claim.

“You have to let people know that you care — like, you really care,” said Williams, who lives in Kensington, Maryland, and has worked at Lionel Henderson & Co. for six years. “Someone just lost their whole house underwater, [and] you want me to be on the phone just straight talking about policies? No. I want to know how you’re doing.”

Williams can empathize with the callers: She was homeless for her first two years on the job, paying friends who let her stay with them.

“I understand the struggle,” Williams said. “I understand what it is to lose everything, to not have somewhere to lay your head at night. I put myself [in their place] when they call.”

Williams is paid $14.28 an hour by Lionel Henderson, a subcontractor until recently to Aon National Flood Services Inc., which has a contract with FEMA, worth up to $163.4 million, to administer the flood insurance program. Under prevailing-wage classifications in the Service Contract Act, she should be getting between $16.24 and $18.74 an hour, according to the Communications Workers of America, which filed a complaint with the Labor Department in December seeking back wages for Williams and her colleagues. The department opened an investigation of Williams’ case in March.

Reached by phone at Lionel Henderson’s corporate office in Atlanta, the company’s human resources director, Alanna Smith, declined to comment.Torrent Technologies Inc. won the FEMA contract in September, but won't begin administering it until later this year. Torrent's chief executive officer, Ian Macartney, said the company had no role in deciding Williams's pay.

Today, Lionel Henderson’s starting pay for a customer-service representative with two years’ experience is 22 cents an hour higher than what Williams makes after six. Williams said she has trained company representatives who perform the same duties as she does but earn more. “And I’m just sitting there like — I feel like I’m being robbed.”

An asthmatic, Williams said she can’t afford inhalers on her current salary. Nor can she afford doctor copays. Some months, she gets donations from churches, takes out small loans or calls her parents to see if they can help with expenses. To supplement her income, she styles hair out of her home on weekends. She takes just a few clients because a bulging disc in her back makes it hard to stand for long periods.

“I’m a hard worker,” Williams said. “And, you know, when you tell people where you work, they’re like, ‘Aw, man, you’re working there? I know you making good money.’ But you’re just sitting there like, ‘Only if you knew.’”

Uncertain future for wage enforcement

It’s unclear how the Trump administration will approach enforcement of the nation’s panoply of labor laws, from the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides employees with unpaid maternity and health leave, to the Davis-Bacon Act, which sets a prevailing wage for workers on government construction jobs.

Trump has tapped R. Alexander Acosta — dean of the Florida International University law school — to lead the Labor Department. Acosta is a former member of the National Labor Relations Board and a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. The previous nominee, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew amid outcry over his support of workplace automation, an undocumented housekeeper he employed tax-free, and domestic violence allegations stemming from his 1987 divorce.

Days after his inauguration, Trump issued an order to freeze hiring throughout the federal government, raising concerns that the much-criticized Wage and Hour Division may end up losing ground. Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget calls for an overall Labor Department cut of 21 percent. The department did not respond to interview requests.

The Wage and Hour Division had been in the midst of an overhaul following missteps during the George W. Bush administration. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office reported that the division had mishandled nine of every 10 complaints lodged by auditors posing as victims of wage theft.

“Far too often many of America’s most vulnerable workers find themselves dealing with an agency concerned about resource limitations, with ineffective processes, and without certain tools necessary to perform timely and effective investigations of wage theft complaints,” the GAO concluded.

On one occasion, an auditor posing as a janitor claimed to have been paid less than the minimum wage. The Labor Department investigator didn’t try to call the fictitious employer until months later, didn’t respond to the complainant when he tried to follow up and ultimately suggested he look for another job instead of pursuing his case. The complaint was never recorded in the Wage and Hour Division’s database.

The sting operation was a black eye for the department and led to the hiring of about 300 investigators early in Barack Obama's first term.

In May 2014, the division got its first permanent administrator in a decade: David Weil, a Boston University professor who had been fiercely critical of the Labor Department’s ability to oversee work-on-demand employment and the proliferation of subcontractors hired to do what were once core company functions. The number of investigators had dropped steadily during the Bush administration, from a high of 949 to a 40-year low of 731 investigators in 2008, shortly before Obama took office.

Under Obama, the number of investigators jumped to about 1,000 — the highest level since the 1980s. Even so, the division is stretched thin: those investigators must monitor 7.3 million businesses.

The division investigated 2,025 cases involving federal contractors in 2016. It found violations in 77 percent of these cases.

“If you get the benefit of doing work for the public through a federal contract, you should be treating your workforce in the way we as a society have said is the appropriate way,” Weil said in an interview in December. “You should be models of what we do.”

Last fiscal year, the division found 32,487 violations of the Service Contract Act, which sets prevailing wages and benefits for workers on most service contracts, and 12,567 violations of the Davis-Bacon Act. The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, which applies to construction contracts, accounted for 4,044 violations in 389 cases.

In all, the division found, nearly 32,000 federal contract workers were owed slightly more than $50 million in back pay due to wage-law violations.

Violators during the 18-month period covered by the Center’s analysis include names familiar and arcane. Sterling Medical Associates, a healthcare provider that holds at least $53 million in contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies, was flagged for 730 violations and ordered to pay nearly $1.6 million in back wages. Cornell University, which received around $21 million worth of contracts with various agencies, recorded 1,460 violations and was told to repay nearly $200,000. Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s second-largest private prison firm, received more than $500 million in contracts with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security. It had 750 violations and had to pay more than $600,000 in back wages.

Officials with Sterling Medical Associates and Cornell University did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, recently rebranded as CoreCivic, said that both of the facilities where the Labor Department found wage violations are in compliance with the Service Contract Act today.

‘Burdensome new regulatory regime’

During the most recent fiscal year, the government entered into or modified contracts with nearly 70,000 companies or their subsidiaries to deliver hundreds of thousands of distinct goods and services.

To figure out which companies to hire, agencies begin by posting solicitations, usually on FedBizOpps.gov, where registered contractors can sift through opportunities. When an agency puts out a solicitation, dozens of companies might submit proposals. Each one, in theory, should be vetted to ensure it is a cost-conscious, responsible seller.

Federal guidelines offer some clues along these lines: How solid are the company’s finances? How did it perform on previous contracts, if any? Businesses that fall into certain categories — including small, veteran and minority-owned enterprises — may be given preference.

When contracting officers need to research a company’s history, they can access the Past Performance Information Retrieval System, or PPIRS. But the information kept in the database doesn’t include contractor compliance with labor laws. And some of the data PPIRS pulls in from other databases like the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System or FAPIIS, is not reliable.

The 2013 Senate report, for example, found that energy company BP had no misconduct entries in FAPIIS related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion, which killed 11 workers and sullied the Gulf of Mexico with 4 million barrels of crude oil. The accident prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban BP from all federal contracts for 16 months, but the ban wasn’t reflected in the database.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which oversees contracting standards, issued a memo in 2013 calling for staff to submit company performance reviews more often. It found that such reviews were entered less than 30 percent of the time at some agencies, leaving the government "vulnerable to poor acquisition outcomes in the future.”

Obama’s executive order expanded procurement guidelines to include a review of would-be contractors’ labor records. The subsequent Labor Department rule required contracting staff to consider a company’s history of compliance with 14 labor laws. Among them were the Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers wages; the Occupational Safety and Health Act; and laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and disability, to name a few. The rule required any company seeking a contract to check a box to indicate whether it had blemishes on its record, going back three years.

The vehicle for the rule’s undoing by Congress was the rarely used Congressional Review Act, through which recently finalized regulations can be dismantled by simple majorities in the House and Senate. The act prohibits federal agencies from crafting similar rules in the future unless authorized to do so by Congress.

Even without the short-lived regulation, companies that break the law on a federal job can be debarred or suspended from receiving further contracts. Last year, the Labor Department debarred 49 firms.

“The [Obama] executive order was not intended to deny a contractor an award, or to send them to suspending and debarring; it was about getting them into compliance,” said Lafe Solomon, who joined the Labor Department in 2014 to develop what became the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule. Specialists would help agencies decide how to address violations by contractors. Companies with more serious violations would be allowed to develop corrective plans.

Among the 939 written comments on the rule sent to the Labor Department were letters of support from groups such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and individuals such as William Clegg, who used to work for a halfway house under contract with the federal government in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“If I hadn't been living with my mother, I would have been sleeping on the street with what I was getting paid and would have been forced to go on public assistance,” Clegg wrote. “How safe do you think our communities [will be] when we can't pay a living wage to those that assist with our safety?”

But the rule was wildly unpopular with many contractors and their trade associations. Associated General Contractors of America, for example, denounced an early version as “unfounded, unnecessary, unworkable and unlawful.”

The AGC’s regulatory counsel, Jimmy Christianson, elaborated in an interview. The government, he said, should improve its own contractor vetting instead of laying the burden on companies.

"You're the federal government,” Christianson said. “You're the ones that are citing the contractors, don't you have the information? Why does the contractor have to report it? Isn't that kind of a joke?"

Two other trade groups went further than AGC. In October, Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Security Companies sued the Labor Department and other agencies responsible for the rule’s implementation weeks before its first phase was to kick in. The groups called the rule unlawful, saying contractors could be penalized for cases that had been settled with no admissions of guilt or were still being contested.

“A cumbersome and burdensome new regulatory regime is being created to implement this misguided executive policy, which … violates the rights of government contractors, at considerable cost and with no benefits to taxpayers,” the complaint said.

A federal district court in Texas agreed that the groups had a strong case. The night before the rule was to have gone into effect, Judge Marcia Crone, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, enjoined most of its requirements, though one aspect was preserved: paycheck transparency. Employers that received contracts after January 1 had to give employees breakdowns of their pay rates and benefits so they could monitor their own paychecks for accuracy.

On the Senate floor March 6, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., urged her colleagues not to side with vested interests and vote for a resolution that would spell near-certain doom for the rule. “Instead of creating jobs or raising wages, they’re trying to make it easier for the companies that get big-time, taxpayer-funded government contracts to steal wages from their employees and injure their workers without admitting responsibility,” she said.

But the political muscle of government contractors is hard to overestimate.

In fiscal year 2016, the defense industry, which did $297.5 billion in business with the government, collectively spent $126 million on lobbying and gave almost $13 million to candidates for federal office — 59 percent to Republicans and 41 percent to Democrats, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The construction industry, whose contracting totaled $28.6 billion, spent $52.2 million on lobbying and gave $32.6 million to candidates for federal office – 67 percent to Republicans and 33 percent to Democrats.

‘We just get by check to check’

When the U.S. Army was deciding whether to keep doing business with a cleaning company it employed at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, it checked the company’s record in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. FAPIIS is supposed to record contractors’ most serious missteps; the company, Brown & Pipkins, had a clean record. It hadn’t been debarred or suspended, nor had it been found guilty of defective pricing, human trafficking, or anything else FAPIIS tracks.

What the record didn’t show was that in 2013, a Labor Department investigation found that Brown & Pipkins owed its cleaning staff about $330,000 in back wages. It owed several thousand dollars to one worker: Carlos Umaña, a union leader. He was abruptly fired in December 2012 after he and his colleagues came to work wearing hats bearing the Service Employees International Union’s logo.

“It was our way of showing that we do have a voice in this,” Umaña, 72, said in Spanish during a recent interview in his Silver Spring, Maryland, home.

Umaña began working at Fort Belvoir in 1997. Within two years, the janitorial staff decided to join SEIU to protect its wages. The Army gives Fort Belvoir’s cleaning contracts to different companies every few years; once Brown & Pipkins took over in 2012, it stopped paying Umaña and 67 workers the wages outlined in their collective bargaining agreement. The Labor Department found that workers were underpaid between $4.08 and $5.73 an hour and didn’t receive paid holidays and sick leave.

After Umaña’s union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, Brown & Pipkins reinstated him. But during the half-year he was idled, he could find only part-time work. His pay — and wages earned by his wife, Cecilia, who does janitorial work at Walter Reed Army Medical Center — weren’t enough to cover expenses.

“With these jobs, we can’t save,” Cecilia said. “We just get by check to check.”

The Umañas are still working their way through the debt they accumulated. Their financial troubles weigh heavily on their 22-year-old son, who shares his father’s name. Carlos is trying to earn an associate’s degree by taking online classes after work. When his father was fired in 2012, he put off going to college full-time to help with the family’s expenses.

“Who doesn't like seeing they're going to get a job [done] cheaper?” Carlos said. “But there are people attached to it. There's an income attached to it.”

Brown & Pipkins did not respond to requests for comment.

The company reached a settlement with the NLRB over the Fort Belvoir allegations in February 2017. In 2016, it received contracts totaling about $4.5 million from the Army, primarily for janitorial work in Virginia.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Army Contracting Command said the agency considered Brown & Pipkins’ labor record before awarding the contracts, but didn’t find the as-yet unproven allegations to be disqualifying. Data reviewed by the Center show that the Army contracted with 34 companies with wage violations from the beginning of 2015 until mid-2016, for a total of $20 billion.

Trump and federal contractors

In the weeks before Election Day, Donald Trump released a 30-second television message to voters that crystallized his philosophy on how to help the American worker.

The ad — “Deals” —focused on Trump’s plan to renegotiate trade agreements and cut taxes on manufacturers. The voiceover ended with this promise: “Donald Trump knows business and he’ll fight for the American worker.”

Some of Trump’s biggest fights, even before he took office, involved federal contractors.

He threatened General Motors with higher taxes for moving its operations outside of the U.S. He decried “out of control” costs for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 military fighter jet and Boeing’s contract for a new Air Force One, which he suggestedbe canceled.

Since his inauguration, Trump has claimed he spurred job creation by federal contractors Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Amazon, Walmart, GM, Intel, and Lockheed Martin. (All the companies said their investments were in place before Trump took office.)

In December, as president-elect, Trump negotiated with the Carrier Corporation to keep jobs from moving to Mexico in exchange for $7 million in tax credits over 10 years. Trump said the deal saved 1,100 jobs, but union officials said only 730 people would be retained in the U.S. while 553 positions would still move across the border.

Greg Hayes–CEO of Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies Corp. – said “there was no quid pro quo” and that federal contracts were not mentioned during the discussions. But in a CNBC interview, he implied that the company agreed to negotiate, in part, to ensure a good relationship with the administration.

“There was a cost as we thought about keeping the Indiana plant open,” Hayes said. “At the same time … I was born at night, but not last night. I also know that about 10 percent of our revenue comes from the U.S. government.”

United Technologies received about $5.6 billion in revenue from federal contracts in 2016.

Labor organizers such as Joseph Geevarghese, director of Good Jobs Nation, a grassroots organization that advocates for federal contract workers, are hoping Trump will become an ally.

“As the CEO of the United States government, you have an opportunity to negotiate for all federal contractors, right? To make sure that federal contractors don’t screw workers who serve the American people,” Geevarghese said.

Best-case scenario in his view? Trump does what the labor movement spent eight years trying to get Obama to do: give preference in federal contracts to employers that pay “living wages” of at least $15 an hour with benefits, and are neutral on workplace organizing. Worst case? The gains federal contract workers have seen — a higher minimum wage, more benefits and stronger protections against harassment or discrimination — are erased.

Debbie Berkowitz, a senior fellow with the National Employment Law Project and a former senior policy advisor with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the undoing of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule was “like the opening salvo of the war on workers.

“The president and [Congress], if they wanted to do something for the American worker, this [was] the rule to keep in place,” Berkowitz said. “It would assure that companies that get taxpayer money to build the planes, provide the food for the military, or build large projects are providing good jobs.”

On a snowy day in February, federal contract workers rallied by Good Jobs Nationgathered outside the Capitol. The rally had been organized to protest Puzder’s scheduled Senate confirmation hearing. When he withdrew the day before, it became a celebration.

“You are the ones who make America great!” Geevarghese shouted into a microphone. “You’re the ones who get up every day and serve the American people! And you should be proud!"

Some workers waved American flags, while others held up cardboard shields etched with the words “Good Jobs Defense,” a campaign of Good Jobs Nation. Supporters, including Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and actor Danny Glover riled up the crowd.

“We have shown that we are watching, we are going to pay attention and we are willing to fight,” Warren said. “And we know that when we fight ...”

“We win!” the audience responded.

“When we fight ...”

“... we win!”

Federal workers, Geevarghese said in an interview, will remind Trump of his promises.

“You won because you said you’re going to be a champion for the working class. Do it. And if you don’t? If you betray us? We’ll resist.”

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Q&A: How Mic used its social accounts to influence its new vertical-focused editorial strategy

Last week, the millennial-focused publisher Mic unveiled a redesigned site and a new approach to organizing its coverage. It launched nine new verticals covering a range of topics from the Trump administration and body positivity to feminism and personal finance.

The company also announced it had promoted Cory Haik to the role of publisher. Haik joined Mic in 2015 from The Washington Post, and in an interview this week, Haik (along with a Mic spokeswoman listening in) explained her new role.

“It embodies a lot of the strategic work around how we reach our audiences, how we connect with our audiences, the beats and topics we cover, how we do that via video, via written work, and with native social formats,” she said. “It’s a lot of stuff, quite frankly, that to date I’ve fashioned my career around.”

Mic plans to hire about 35 staffers this year as part of its expansion effort, and Haik and I spoke about the strategy behind the new branded approach, how many of the verticals grew out of popular Mic social accounts, and what’s next for the company as it adjusts to the Trump era.

Here’s a lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation.

Haik: The Transparency Project is a big fun project on the horizon. Also continuing to build out our direct relationships with our audiences. It’s not a very sexy name, but a direct-to-consumer relationship: emails, push alerts — I know you’ve written about our iOS app, and we’ve talked about that before — the products that our audiences can directly engage with us on are important to us as we continue to grow these channels that they all have ways that our audiences can connect to them by way of subscribing in some form or fashion. Obviously, we’re engaged in social, but we want them to have some direct line to Mic itself.

The third is video. We did 400 million video views last month. As a publisher, the ability to reach that many people is a privilege, and we’re excited about that. One of our reporters did a written op-ed that did okay, and then he did the same op-ed in video format and it reached half a million people in just a couple of hours. It’s amazing that you can connect with that many people in our journalism. The possibilities there, I think we just sort of scratched the surface. A lot more experimentation with some of our reporters, video, and how we continue to build it out beyond how it’s working now. If we talked again in six months, we’d have a lot of exciting things to tell you on the video side. We’re bullish on that in general.

Lichterman: You have those big audiences that originated on social platforms — how do you think about trying to convert them to having more direct relationships with Mic on your platforms?

Haik: You always want to be mindful that you’re not beating someone over the head with “subscribe, subscribe, subscribe.” But you still want to do it to some degree. It’d be silly not to. But if your video reaches 500,000 people, the degree to which some of them will convert to a newsletter subscriber of that columnist is pretty high. They’re interested. We are thinking about a lot of ways of connecting our very viral moments to our direct to consumer products. It’s working. Facebook has been a very good lever for us to grow our Navigating Trump’s America newsletter. Whenever there is a big story about Trump and we promote our newsletter, we can get hundreds to thousands of email subscribers. That’s a pretty great funnel. It can be tedious, because you have to pay attention to those moments, and it can be manual, but we put a lot of effort into figuring out how we can capture and convert those audiences to our channels when we can off of social in particular.

Look, we do a lot of talking to our audiences specifically with the audiences and focus groups I talked about. Listening to them — those are our power users, people who come directly to Mic.com, use our app, or follow us on Facebook and aren’t just seeing us because it was in their feed from someone else’s share. Those people are very meaningful. When they have something to say, we follow up and we ask them. Being mindful of those two things and build that virtual connection and also with some of the more viral moments to make sure there’s an opportunity for people to connect with us directly is key.

Lichterman: Going back to the channels for a minute: I’m curious how you balance their individual identities versus the overall identity of Mic. How do you want readers to think about them within the overall structure of the publication?

Haik: Mic really is the network of all these other brands. Mic itself is actually a channel as well — that’s really our core news channel. I definitely think there are these places where our audiences overlap for some of these channels and places where they don’t at all. This body-positivity channel is very specific — it’s a celebration of different body sizes and styles. That’s an important topic that’s very prescient right now, it’s in the conversation right now, but also it’s a pretty specific kind of channel and a certain kind of journalism and storytelling. I don’t know that there’s a ton of crossover between Strut and something like Navigating Trump’s America. There might be. People are interested in politics, obviously, and can be interested in fashion, but we would be perfectly happy if someone just followed our Instagram channel or followed our Facebook page for Strut. We’d view that as a success. We’re figuring out how we bolster these channels on their own, but we do want people to know that they are part of the Mic family. They’re all supported by the endorser brand of Mic.

Lichterman: Something like Navigating Trump’s America feels very of the moment. Do you expect these channels to evolve, titles to change, or new channels to pop up? How do you expect them to evolve moving forward?

Haik: They definitely will evolve. That’s the fun part of being publisher. They will all evolve. The one thing I know for sure is that we will continually ideate and iterate. Mic has this mantra of “always in beta,” and that’s more real than ever. I absolutely love that about this place. We fully embrace the strategy that you think about the platforms, you produce work for the platforms, you work with your audiences, and you produce the best journalism that you can. Then a new platform will emerge and you’ll think about new audiences you can build and how you can connect with. You’ll see them grow certainly. As new platforms emerge, we’ll uncover new ideas about how we do storytelling there. That’s one thing for certain.

Video is a big wide open space that we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with what we’re doing. There are even bigger possibilities in the world of OTT and streaming that we can tap into each of the channels as well. And I think there’s the potential for us to launch more. There’s a couple I mentioned in the post which aren’t live yet — Out of Office, which is our travel channel, and Multiplayer, which is our gaming channel, and they’re launching very, very soon. If there are other big opportunities that make sense across platforms and that make sense editorially, we will continue to grow.

Lichterman: The last thing I wanted to ask is that I know other publishers have tried to take this standalone vertical approach, and some have had more success than others. I’m wondering how you’re measuring success with this project and are there specific targets you’re looking at to determine what success is?

Haik: That’s always an important thing for us to think about on the front end at Mic. We actually have very specific success metrics for each of these, and they’re by platform. Again, they’re not one-size fits all. What we want the Payoff podcast to grow to is different than what we want the newsletter to grow to on Slay, but they are specific to those audiences. We spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s not just a quantitative number, but also a qualitative mark around what we want that point of view, audience acceptance and understanding of that channel to be. We like to have ambitious goals, so they all have pretty aggressive and ambitious goals — not just for continuing to grow but for being remarkable in the editorial areas that they’re covering. Success is the continued growth, but also that they break out in some way. We just launched these channels, but we would like them to be front of mind for things like feminism and Trump and politics and policy for our audience.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Spookintercommunale keert op 10 jaar tijd 300.000 euro zitpenningen uit

Apache.be - do, 06/04/2017 - 16:19
Intercommunale IMWV dient al 10 jaar enkel als doorgeefluik voor dividenden en vergoedingen van grote zus TMVW.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

The election-related stories people seemed to prefer to read and share were about scandals and corruption

As the November 2016 election that eventually brought the U.S. President Donald Trump approached, local news outlets appeared to turn away from news stories that touched on specific issues such as the economy, energy, or education. Readers, too, were more interested in stories involving scandal and corruption, according to a report out Thursday from the Engaging News Project and the American Press Institute.

On average, 2.5 issues were mentioned in a news story published 20 to 32 days before Election Day in November, compared to 1.8 issues mentioned in news stories published zero to nine days before Election Day, based on the report’s analysis of 705 election-related — but non-presidential campaign — stories pulled from nine news websites across six states. (The states: California, Florida, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.) Social issues such as abortion or rights for LGBTQ people were heavily covered, followed by issues around public safety (e.g., gun control or crime). The issue given least attention in local outlets’ down-ballot coverage was, perhaps unsurprisingly, trade:

Notably, the timeframe covered in this report includes the week of the Trump Access Hollywood tape. The authors write:

Examining the coverage, local news outlets’ coverage of social issues seemed to be influenced by what occurred at the top of the ballot with the presidential race. Coverage of then-candidate Donald Trump’s treatment of women — including the disclosure of the Access Hollywood tape — became an issue for Republican candidates down the ballot. News articles mentioning U.S. House and Senate races discussed how candidates for these offices were responding to the Trump tape and their positions on issues of women’s rights and sexual harassment. The national conversation became a prominent topic of debate down the ballot.

Scandal and corruption coverage was common in local outlets: 22 percent of articles analyzed in the report focused on “accusations, investigations, or criminal charges leveled against non-presidential candidates for federal, state, or local office.” News stories about campaign or government corruption garnered more pageviews and social referrals than stories that didn’t touch on these topics at all (clickbait-y headlines in local election coverage, though, were not found to be helpful in that regard).

Other findings:

— A missed opportunity: Fact-checking was largely absent in local election articles: 2 percent of the stories analyzed in the report included checks on claims made by candidates and their campaigns.

— Local news election stories relied heavily on “horserace” coverage, with “frontrunners” and “underdogs.” More than half the stories analyzed (54 percent) referenced that narrative.

— The campaign stories that mentioned the horserace, campaign fundraising and spending, and public opinion received predictably fewer page views and social referrals than articles that didn’t.

The full report is available here.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws