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Need to Know: Aug. 8, 2017

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism


You might have heard: In 2011, FT introduced a web app and pulled its iOS apps several months later, “after losing a battle to keep control of customer data obtained through subscriptions” (Reuters)

But did you know: 6 years later, FT is returning to Apple’s App Store — and Apple won’t be getting a cut of subscription revenue (Wall Street Journal)
After pulling its iOS app in 2011 over disagreements with Apple over revenue and data sharing, Financial Times is returning to the App Store. Notably, the new app will only be available to existing FT subscribers: New readers won’t be able to purchase subscriptions within the app, but will have to do so on FT’s website first before logging into the app. This set-up means that FT can avoid giving Apple a cut of subscription revenue, while also being able to collect user data directly on its site. Though the app may not help convert new subscribers, FT say it’s looking to increase engagement among existing subscribers: “We know that an engaged reader results in a larger lifetime value,” FT’s chief product and information officer Cait O’Riordan explains. “We want to know if a native app can help drive that engagement number.”

+ “We identified an iOS app as a key way to drive engagement. We saw that readers who used our existing apps were much more engaged than those who didn’t. We also saw that we had a much higher app adoption rate on Android, where we had a native app, than on iOS,” FT’s product manager for apps Martin Fallon says (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: A new podcast from NPR will highlight “how the ideas we talk about in the U.S. — love, racial inequality and facts — are being discussed somewhere else in the world” (NPR); BuzzFeed is expected to launch an hour-long weekday morning show livestreamed on Twitter later this year (Poynter); The Trump administration’s FCC was able to aid Sinclair Broadcasting’s expansion with “a decades-old regulatory loophole that will keep Sinclair from vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership” (Politico); Mike Pence says a NYT story on a “shadow campaign” that’s being led by Republican presidential hopefuls including Pence is “categorically false” and “disgraceful and offensive,” but hasn’t requested a correction (Poynter); BuzzFeed news audio fellow Alex Laughlin releases findings from her anonymous survey of how much audio producers are making (Alex Laughlin, Medium)


Improving accountability reporting: How to make the best of journalism better for audiences
In our latest Strategy Study, we explore a series of ideas people in news are working on that, taken together, will create a different approach to accountability journalism. These approaches are sometimes described as “explainer journalism” or “alternative story forms,” but the concepts behind them are more broadly about emphasizing the non-narrative, data or visual elements made possible by digital news. In this report, we offer ideas for how to start designing more engaging stories and a portfolio of examples from news organizations around the country that have found effective ways to present facts on complicated issues.


‘In 2017, the one thing every digital-native news outlet needs is a newsletter’ (Nieman Lab)
According to new research released Monday from the Pew Research Center, newsletters are the top way digital-native news outlets get news out. Looking at 36 news outlets that originated online and have at least 10 million monthly unique visitors, Pew found that 97 percent of these outlets offer newsletters, while the number of sites with native apps stayed steady between 2016 and 2017 at 61 percent. In terms of getting news out, Nieman Lab concludes: “Newsletter > Apple News > podcast > app.”


Trying to challenge the dominance of Facebook and Google, broadcasters in Germany created a unified registration and login system for their customers (Digiday)
Two of Germany’s biggest broadcasters, RTL Group and ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, have created an alliance with an ISP to launch a unified registration and login system for their customers, intended to “make it easier for people to control what data media and advertising businesses have from them.” Jessica Davies explains that next May, the rules around what data media and ad companies have about users will get more strict when new European data privacy laws go into effect, which are expected to be advantageous to Google, Facebook and other companies with massive amounts of user data. “With our alliance, we are adding substantial value for the customer,” ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE CEO Thomas Ebeling said. “At the same time, we are strengthening the German digital market by counterbalancing the monopolistic and unclear algorithms used by U.S. players.”

+ Ahead of its election this week, Kenyans fear that an “ecosystem of fake news” could lead to political violence (New York Times); A publisher of fake news says that Facebook and Google’s crackdowns on misinformation have hurt his business (USA Today)


What news organizations can learn from Phish: The band listens to their audience and adjusts what it’s doing based on their feedback (Media Nut)
“Brands and publishers could learn a thing or two from Phish,” Josh Sternberg writes in his Media Nut newsletter, “whether it’s great customer service (the relationship between audience and band is what makes Phish, Phish — that and the great jams) or how they continue to use technology to their advantage (the band embraced video in 2010 when they began webcasting their concerts for a nominal fee). Imagine if publishers listened to their audience as well as Phish listened to theirs. In the 1990s, for example, fans wanted the bass player to be turned up more. They felt he wasn’t loud enough in the mix. The band heard the fans, and made him louder.”

+ Everything you know about creating a good password might be wrong: Bill Burr wrote a report in 2003 that recommended “using numbers, obscure characters and capital letters and updating regularly,” but he now says that his advice was largely incorrect (Wall Street Journal)


Department of Justice says it won’t go after journalists for leaks, but anyone in the White House or Congress responsible for leaking classified information could face federal prosecution (NY Daily News)
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said that anyone in the White House or Congress who leaks classified information could be prosecuted under federal law — but specified that the Justice Department likely wouldn’t go after journalists. “We’re after the people who are committing crimes,” Rosenstein said. “We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs.” However, Rosenstein said he couldn’t rule out the possibility of prosecution of journalists whose reporting caused a national security risk, though he said he hadn’t seen a case under the Trump administration of a reporting “testing the law.”

+ Attorney general Jeff Sessions outlined on Friday the Justice Department’s plans to combat leaked information under the Trump administration: Sessions said that after speaking to career employees in the department, “At their suggestion, one of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas” (CNN)


Cory Haik: ‘We’re in the early stages of a visual revolution in journalism’ (Recode)
“Reports of the death of the written word are greatly exaggerated,” Cory Haik writes on the “pivot to video.” But Haik argues that there are some changes brewing in visual journalism: “I also believe that the new mixed-media formats in social video (primarily short- and mid-form) offer a rich opportunity to deliver complicated news in compelling ways. I see short-form social video, and visually driven, mobile tap-through stories as much the same media. … We’re in the very early stages of an evolution — of the visual revolution. Business models notwithstanding, this is already allowing our stories to travel faster and further than we ever imagined.”

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