Features

Splice News Trends: Huff Post sinks, NYT goes soft on Nazi and Thailand unveils fake news app

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week

Governments

India put forward what could be the strongest net neutrality protections in the world. The telecom regulator recommends that no internet provider be allowed to slow down or speed up a service — a key principle of net neutrality. This comes at a time when U.S. regulators are going in the opposite direction.

Thailand’s public health ministry launched an app that it hopes will help fight fake news. It’s basically a hotline for people to report controversial or sensitive stuff they come across on the internet.

Singapore established measures to protect freelancers working in media. The standards cover written contracts, timely payment, dispute resolution and insurance. Companies applying for government grants will have to meet those standards. Well done.

CNN is boycotting the White House Christmas party as its feud with Trump continues. “In light of the President’s continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests.” Let’s see if other media will follow suit.

TrendsBuzzFeed will miss its internal revenue targets this year, so it’s laying off 100 people. Most of the cuts will affect sales, marketing and other “business-side” employees in the U.S. Some editorial and business staff in the UK will also lose their jobs.

HuffPost broke up with Fairfax Media in Australia. Some of the 30 staff from the partnership will be absorbed into Fairfax’s metro business, while others will be laid off. HuffPost will run a standalone Australian edition from December 1. Where did it all go wrong?

Mumbrella’s founder Tim Burrowes is warning of an implosion of the mass media model as the pendulum swings away from scale and reach. This piece, which originated in his newsletter, was so good that we asked for permission to republish it. “Advertisers blindly buying an audience has gone out of fashion.”

You may remember that domain hosting services around the world have been rejecting the notorious white supremacist site The Daily Stormer. Guess where they found a home for a couple of weeks? Hong Kong.

Transformations

Meredith Corp bought Time Inc., thanks to a flush of cash from the conservative Koch brothers. The Kochs have always tried to influence the political discourse in America. But this is the first time they’ve actually bought into a media company. How many of us still read Time, anyway?

The Facebook Journalism Project is working with the Ryerson School of Journalism to fund and support five news-related startups from around Canada. The startups will get $100,000 worth of seed capital and $50,000 to advertise on Facebook.

Twitter is testing a new feature that will show how many people are “talking about” a tweet. All part of the goal of trying to build social context around what people are posting. Nice to see Twitter try out new features!

The founder of Tumblr, David Karp, is walking away from the cultish platform of art, blogs, fandom, and smut he started up 11 years ago. It was an interesting run: they were bought by Yahoo and then by Verizon.

WeWork is acquiring Meetup. Hello Coworking, meet my friend Networking.

Design

Adobe Photoshop snuck a preview of a major upgrade to the bane of arguably every designer’s existence: selection. Design should be about the content, not the tools, and ‘Select Subject’ is a bit of game-changer in that it uses machine-learning to make removing backgrounds a lot easier — if it works. Our product design guy’s pupils have enlarged.

Start-ups

Indonesia’s IDN Times (the “BuzzFeed” of Indo) raised a Series B round. It didn’t say how much, but the funds will apparently go toward building new products and services. Side note: We’re working on a profile of this fast-growing company. What should we ask?

The Magpie Digest is a new newsletter that documents the role of tech in shaping Chinese society today. “As researchers interested in the social context around technology and culture in China, we still find ourselves craving steady access to an eye-level view of the everyday conversations that help us understand and explain contemporary Chinese society.” A wonderful mission looking for subscribers.

We came across something interesting out of India: A lifestyle magazine in braille. White Print has brought about a revolution in braille writing — and braille advertising. A Splice original.

Safety

Does your newsroom provide hostile environment training? We had a look around Southeast Asia and it’s staggering that many regional newsrooms don’t. There needs to be a “duty of care” around safety and it’s appalling to see it isn’t there. A Splice original.

Newspapers in northeast India have been running blank editorial pages to protest the murder of a journalist. It was the third prominent killing of a media professional since September.

By the way, India is one of the most dangerous places to report the news. We ran a Splice original on the dangers of working in India’s media industry earlier this month. ICYMI.

Google is working on some AI tech that tells you if someone else is looking at your phone. “Gaze detection” works by enabling your camera to catch spying eyes, and then warning you about it. You just need to be ok with your camera watching you all the time. Yeah, exactly.

Tools

If you’re looking for quick ways to add text to your photos on your phone, check this out. Three free Android apps. (Btw, we’re building out lists for tools — Android and iOS — so send us your favorite ones.)

Instagram is testing some interesting new features, including a “Regram” button. That would be cool!

Notables

I came across this fascinating podcast interview this week. Inflection Point’s Lauren Schiller spoke with Cristi Hegranes of the Global Press Institute. They’re doing some inspiring work: Providing journalism training to women in emerging markets so that women can tell their own stories about what’s going on around them. Hegranes talks about the problem with foreign correspondents framing local issues in the wrong context. “To change the story, you have to change the storyteller.”

Research shows that you aren’t getting the full picture if you’re taking lecture or meeting notes on the laptop. Same rules should apply when you’re conducting interviews. Pen, on paper, please.

And if you haven’t picked out a book for your holiday break, here are 100 notable books of the year, curated by the New York Times. What are you reading this month?

Everyone lined up to throw punches at the New York Times for publishing a piece about a nice Nazi next door. Apparently Nazis can be gentle people who like cats, music and muffins. “It is childish, this late in human history, to be surprised that evil people are also people.”

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