A new platform based on trust

Yesterday, CJR opened Galley, an app created last year by Josh Young and Tom McGeveran. In bringing Galley under the CJR mantle, we’re creating a new space for thoughtful conversations about journalism and opening up the debates we have every day in the newsroom. We’re inviting you all to join in.

“It is one of the biggest frustrations of the media moment in which we live: precisely when there is so much in journalism to discuss, the places we can have those conversations seem inadequate,” Kyle Pope, CJR’s editor and publisher, writes. “Reader comments sections grew toxic; many outlets did away with them. Email to a generic address seems too impersonal. Facebook is too generic and politically fraught. And Twitter, where most of the journalistic conversation still happens, is a useful but chaotic place, mined with booby traps, jabbing, and outrage—not a forum for nuanced, thoughtful exchange. And yet that is what we all so desperately need.”

ICYMI: Introducing Galley, a new forum to talk about journalism

Galley is a platform based on trust: you choose the people you want to engage with in any given conversation. That doesn’t mean you can’t get on your soapbox—if you want to, you can make any post open to the public. The idea is to vary the kinds of engagement you have. “Different conversations and topics can be open to different groups of people, depending on your mood, on the subject matter, on who else is involved,” Pope writes. “It’s all entirely up to you.”

We’ll be using Galley in a variety of ways at CJR, posting exclusive interviews, AMAs, and conversation threads on media stories—from CJR.org and further afield. Yesterday, Pope chatted with Kevin Delaney, editor in chief of Quartz (which just put up a partial paywall), about membership models in journalism. CJR’s Mathew Ingram and Nausicaa Renner sparked a discussion about crowdsourced news in light of WikiTribune’s decision to lay off all of its professional journalists. And Christine Rushton, a digital editor for 17 Northern California newspapers, posted updates on newsroom morale since wildfires have devastated the state.

To join in, or just to watch, go to this link or download Galley from your app store. Check out our users’ guide here. And bring your friends. Galley can only thrive if you help us grow it. See you online.

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Other notable stories:

  • Mic, the millennial-focused digital media company, laid off all but one of its editorial staffers yesterday, then was sold to Bustle for a paltry $5 million. When CJR’s Ingram reported in September that Mic was in big financial trouble, Chris Altchek, its cofounder, angrily slapped him down. Yesterday, Ingram reflected on why he was ultimately proven right. “Did Facebook pull a bait-and-switch on video to some extent? No doubt. But no one forced Mic, or any other company suffering as a result of the same strategy, to shift so much of their spending to Facebook video, or to get their hopes up about a huge payoff,” he writes. “You could argue that they were driven to do so by desperation, fueled by declining ad revenues that are primarily being hoovered up by Google and Facebook. But ultimately a company is responsible for its own decisions.”
  • Staffers at two other digital outlets, Mashable and PCMag, asked Ziff Davis, their owner, to recognize their efforts to unionize, HuffPost’s Dave Jamieson reports.
  • If it wasn’t already, it’s now official: the Robert Mueller news cycle is back in top gear. Yesterday, out of nowhere, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos broke the news that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, was pleading guilty to lying to Congress about the extent of Trump’s business interests in Russia, which continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign. On Twitter, many hats were tipped to BuzzFeed’s Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, who nailed key details back in May. Cormier and Leopold were not done there: last night, they revealed that the Trump organization planned to give Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in its abortive Trump Tower Moscow project.
  • The Wall Street Journal had this late contender for correction-of-the-year yesterday: “Vladimir Putin is president of Russia. An editing mistake erroneously identified him as Vladimir Trump.”
  • Yet more embarrassing news for Facebook. The Journal’s Deepa Seetharaman and Kirsten Grind got their hands on internal emails revealing that the company considered charging businesses for access to user data. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg emphatically told senators that Facebook “doesn’t sell data.” Then, BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac reported that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, did order research on George Soros after he criticized the company—something about which she’d previously denied knowledge.
  • Yesterday, the government of the Philippines formally indicted Rappler, an independent news website, and Maria Ressa, its CEO, on charges of tax evasion. Ressa, who won a press freedom award from the Committee to Protect Journalists last week, called the move “a clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment” by Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s authoritarian president.
  • A community group in Washington, DC, has voted to rename the street in front of the Saudi embassy in honor of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident writer murdered in early October by officials in his country’s Istanbul consulate. ICYMI amid the Mueller updates, this week the Senate advanced a measure to withdraw US support for Saudi military manoeuvres in Yemen—rebuking Trump’s inaction over Khashoggi’s killing.
  • The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill writes about her enduring friendship with John Skipper, the former president of ESPN, who sanctioned, then suspended Hill from the network last year because of the politics of her tweets.
  • CNN axed Marc Lamont Hill, an on-air commentator, after he called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” at a United Nations event yesterday. “My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone,” Hill tweeted in response. “It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things. No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant.”
  • On Wednesday, journalists at the Financial Times voted no confidence in John Ridding, the paper’s CEO, as a union chapter accused him of “losing touch” with employees. Staff were unhappy after it emerged this summer that Ridding pocketed more than $3 million in salary. Ridding failed to address those concerns during a live-streamed speech on Monday. A debate on pay did follow, but the live stream was cut.
  • And for CJR, Cynthia Greenlee tackles the skewed sourcing of maternal health coverage. “Black women are three to four times more likely to perish from pregnancy-related complications than white women,” Greenlee writes. “In their haste to cover an urgent health crisis, reporters risk perpetuating another racial disparity: a dearth of black experts in maternal health stories.”

ICYMI: Mic shuts down, a victim of management hubris and Facebook’s pivot to video

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Jon Allsop is a freelance journalist. He writes CJR’s newsletter The Media Today. Find him on Twitter @Jon_Allsop.