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Need to Know: Feb. 28, 2018

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


You might have heard: Facebook started making changes to its news feed earlier this year, emphasizing posts from a user’s friends over posts from publishers (CNN Tech)

But did you know: Facebook is launching Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, a $3 million project to help metro newspapers build digital subscriptions (Axios)
The Facebook Journalism Project announced the creation of its Local News Subscriptions Accelerator on Tuesday. The accelerator will work with 10 to 15 “metro news organizations” to build digital subscription strategies on and off Facebook. The publishers will convene once a month to receive coaching from experts, and participate in weekly virtual trainings. The pilot group includes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Omaha World-Herald, Seattle Times and San Francisco Chronicle. And while Facebook is covering the cost, it will require the publishers to share findings from the accelerator.

+ “We often talk to publishers about what the future of journalism looks like and local news publishers tell us that digital subscribers are critical to the long-term sustainability of their business. We know Facebook is one part of the strategy to engage readers and ultimately drive paid subscriptions,” Facebook’s head of news partnerships Campbell Brown writes (Facebook Media)

+ “It’s no secret as to why Facebook would be willing to mount this campaign,” Jon Fingas writes. “It could help boost Instant Articles subscriptions among the newspapers still involved in the service, and may reassure publishers that it still supports them. And of course, fostering the growth of established, respected news outlets could help fight fake news. The question is whether or not this will teach publishers enough to make a difference — and, for that matter, whether or not it will bring back publishers burned by Facebook’s past decisions to downplay news stories” (Engadget)

+ Noted: The New York Times is building a weekly TV news program, and is seeking an executive producer for the series, according to job listings (CNN Media); Viral Facebook publisher Little Things shuts down, blaming Facebook’s algorithm changes for cutting its organic traffic by as much as 75 percent (Business Insider); The father of a Florida shooting survivor admits he altered emails from CNN that he sent to news outlets claiming CNN told his son what to say at its town hall — but says the changes were not made on purpose (ABC News)


How to measure your community’s ‘news awareness’ (Dan Gillmor, Medium)
With the help of the Center for Media Engagement, media scholar Renee Hobbs and API, the ASU News Co/Lab is releasing its first survey, intended to measure your community’s “news awareness.” The survey measures “among other things, people’s understanding of how news works as well as their attitudes toward journalism and our newsroom partner[s],” Dan Gillmor explains. The News Co/Lab will be using the survey in the newsrooms it’s working with — but the survey is public, and they’re encouraging others to use it as they wish.


Malaysia’s first publisher co-op is launching, with publishers coming together over the goal of greater ad transparency (The Drum)
Malaysia Premium Publishers Marketplace officially launched this week, marking the “first publisher-led programmatic advertising marketplace platform in Malaysia.” Eight publishers are part of the co-op, which has the goal of providing advertisers with more transparency around ad inventory and viewability. Plus, the co-op is offering advertisers creative ad formats, the ability to incorporate their own data and audience insights, and real-time metrics. “Our goal is to ensure the transparency and ethical operating standard of MPPM. We’ll work closely with Innity to manage these ad inventories in order to simplify and ensure the delivery of quality online ad inventory to advertisers,” MPPM chair Heather Wee explains. “The setting up of MPPM will also empower small and medium size advertisers who could not afford online ad verification services to buy quality local online ad inventory, via self-serving website, with peace of mind.”


‘The career of the future looks more like a portfolio than a path’ (Quartz@Work)
More and more, people’s careers are looking more like a portfolio of projects, rather than a linear path, April Rinne writes. Rinne explains a “portfolioist” as someone who has a variety of “skills, experience, roles or responsibilities might be wildly diverse, which both distributes risk and allows for experimentation. Unrelated experiences may combine to create very specific and valuable expertise. The portfolioist’s career is a bento box, with each skill in its place.” She argues: “I have a strong suspicion that moving forward, portfolioists of all ages will play a meaningful role in reshaping and resizing how companies work. Organizations will come to realize that portfolioists are valuable not as a cost-cutting measure but rather because they amplify diversity of thinking and maximize the potential for new insights. They leapfrog employee group-think and have a richer palette of insights from which to draw, because everything in their portfolio cross-pollinates everything else. In other words, because the results are genuinely better.”

+ Analyzing subscription services, McKinsey and Co. found that nearly 40 percent of subscribers to “any type of service” ultimately cancel, with more than a third canceling in less than three months and more than half canceling within six months (Retail Dive)


Subscription models require publishers to go from being content-focused to being customer-focused (Digiday)
Moving to a reader revenue-focused business model is challenging for publishers, Lucia Moses reports: It requires being good at product marketing, and moving from a content-centric point of view to a customer-centric one — things publishers haven’t necessarily had to do in the past. “Despite all the lip service, we’ve never been a reader-friendly industry,” Gizmodo Media Group CEO Raju Narisetti tells Moses. “If you try to unsubscribe to a major news brand, it’s a nightmare. And if you’re a member, the expectations for service levels go up because the whole point is to make you feel special.”

+ “In a year or two we’ll see articles talking about how the pivot to subscriptions failed to pan out for some news orgs. But there is only so much subscription revenue available for news. It’s a battle to capture it” (@CraigSilverman, Twitter); “Again, stop looking for silver bullets. They don’t exist. Instead, figure out if/how consumer revenue can be an important part of your path to surviving/thriving” (@HeyTimGriggs, Twitter)


‘She didn’t see herself or the young Black community in Chicago’s main media outlets, so she started her own’ (Poynter)
Tiffany Walden is the founder of The TRiiBE, which she describes as “a digital media platform that is helping reshape the narrative of Black Chicago through storytelling and art.” Walden was inspired to found The TRiiBE because when she looked at news coverage in Chicago, she didn’t see herself — a young, Black woman who grew up on the West Side of Chicago. “Our mission is to raise new voices and extend a platform to a generation of readers that has long been overlooked,” she writes. “We want stories that are specific to our everyday experiences and that are layered with historical facts and trends. … Black representation in media not only matters for the audience. It is extremely important for Black writers, videographers and other creatives from Chicago to have a seat at the table because not only does it give us a chance to show off our skills as storytellers, it allows us — as locals — to have ownership of a local story.”

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