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The dangers of Slack in journalism

Slack screenshot

Slack and similar collaboration tools are growing in popularity, but journalists and their organizations should think twice about using them for sensitive work, because they're vulnerable to both hackers and litigants, Quinn Norton warns: "Don’t ever say anything on Slack you don’t want read aloud in front of a 72-year-old Alabama judge in federal court." Norton suggests some safer alternatives that use encryption or don't retain old records.

Confusion about online news sources

Smartphone held in user's hand

People who see a news story online often can't recall where they saw it. One in 10 thinks Facebook is a news media outlet. Those were two of the findings from a Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults and their online reading habits. Also, "nearly two-thirds (65%) of online news consumers had one preferred pathway for getting most of their online news." Comment from NiemanLab and Poynter.

Things we know from nonprofit media

Prison cells

From a Mother Jones first-person account of the private prison industry to toxic lead in the Flint, Mich., water system, nonprofit media scored dozens of major investigative stories in 2016, according to the 120-member Institute for Nonprofit News, which compiled this list of the year's best: "Across America over the last year, reporters in nonprofit newsrooms broke thousands of stories while pursuing journalism in the public interest."

What readers want in comment sections

University of Texas researchers have surveyed readers for 20 large media outlets and found that most want reporters and outside experts to participate in news story comment sections, Shan Wang writes: "'Comments are all too often under-resourced and ignored in newsrooms,' Andrew Losowsky, project lead for The Coral Project, said in a statement. 'This survey demonstrates a huge opportunity for conversations that bring journalists and their audiences closer together.'"

How to enter a science writing contest

The co-chairs of NASW's Awards Committee offer tips for entering the Science in Society Awards and other contests, along with some common mistakes to avoid: "Sure, you can enter a story in the contest just by submitting a link. But beware. We’re always surprised by the number of entries we have to disqualify because the link takes us to an error page. That’s a major bummer, given that we can’t ask our judges to go hunting down your work."

The rise of the mini-documentary

Mars (artist's impression)

Michael Blanding writes about an 11-minute Guardian video, "If I Die on Mars," as the exemplar of a new type of content for news sites: "The film is one in an explosion of short nonfiction films that have increasingly populated the channels of mainstream news sites, connecting human beings with true stories from around the world. Call them mini-documentaries." Blanding also discusses some challenges in joining video with print journalism and putting it on small screens.

Recapping the year in media goofs

Newspaper correction clipping

This list of top corrections for 2016 includes mistakes ranging from confusing a Bob Dylan impersonator for the real artist to misstating the shapes of Tetris game pieces. Alexios Mantzarlis writes: "It's also a recognition of an honorable practice that not everyone follows. Outlets that mark their corrected articles clearly or collect them in one easily searchable section (for example, the Guardian) may be over-represented in this list, but they should be commended."

Numbers and the news in 2016

Hard drive internals

The Trump victory may have dealt a blow to data journalists, but there were plenty of other wins and losses in the field this year, Walt Hickey writes, such as Facebook replacing editors with algorithms: "Fake news was given a lucrative business model just weeks before people would use information to make an important political decision. The platform has since begun a crackdown, which I suppose is outstanding responsiveness and foresight ahead of the 2020 election."

All the year's top science news

Mosquito biting

Virginia Hughes collects links to more than a dozen lists of important science stories for 2016. Topping the list is a contribution from Science News, citing stories on the detection of gravitational waves, the Zika virus, the discovery of a nearby star's planet, the birth of a baby with three parents, the loss of sea ice in the Arctic, new DNA-based research on human migrations, a minimalist genome, and continued research into treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

CJR on the year's best journalism

Happy New Year graphic

Investigations of Theranos, private prisons, and climate change made David Uberti's list of 2016's best journalism: "The Los Angeles Times’ investigation of drugmaker Purdue Pharma’s claim that OxyContin provides 12 hours of pain relief not only shed new light on how people become addicted to the drug, but also the way in which pharmaceutical companies may obfuscate evidence to protect profits." Also, the year's best medical stories.