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Need to Know: Jan. 16, 2018

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


You might have heardThe Denver Post last experimented with a digital paywall system starting in November 2013, then resumed free access in April 2015 at the start of the Aurora theater shooting trial.

But did you know: The Denver Post is “so over working for free,” and adds a metered paywall (The Denver Post)

The Denver Post newsroom is moving out of its downtown newsroom this month, and most of the staff will go to the printing plant. “The watchdogs can no longer afford the rent,” writes Chuck Plunkett, The Post’s editorial page editor. So they have enabled a metered paywall, with an $11.99 digital subscription fee. “How I have hated the enormous amount of time we’ve spent trying to get page views in the empty belief the digital ads would save us,” Plunkett says. “In that pursuit we’ve drained precious time and resources that could have been focused on doing even more real journalism … Returning to our fundamentals will be better for readers and journalists alike.”

+ Reporter John Ingold posts a Twitter thread personally appealing to potential subscribers (@johningold, Twitter); Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett asks readers to think about their obligation to support the news they use: “What is one’s responsibility when it comes to paying for the news? Shouldn’t supporting newsrooms be a part of the social contract?” (The Denver Post)

+ An anchor of the local NBC affiliate in Denver tells viewers to support the Post: “I’m not sure this is a wise thing to say about the competition, but would ask you to think about joining me in supporting them … and I say that knowing that the Post has a very dim view of this program and will probably write even more articles to that effect in the future.” (9NEWS)

+ Noted: The Guardian has redesigned its website and mobile apps to coincide with the launch of the newspaper’s new tabloid format (The Guardian); Facebook’s head of News Feed says the recently announced overhaul will result in less video appearing (Wired); Save the date: 2018 Collaborative Journalism Summit set for May 10-11 at Montclair State University (Center for Cooperative Media); The EU’s newly established group on fake news and disinformation met for the first time as it seeks to define and develop a strategy for tackling fake news (Press Gazette);  Twitter again disputes claims from a Project Veritas undercover video aimed at the company, saying “We do not proactively review DMs. Period.” (BuzzFeed)



How emergency alerts should work (Poynter)

“Without a doubt, this false alarm, and the time that it took to alert the public that it was false, will start an urgent conversation about what role media play in a real alert,” writes Al Tompkins. “This fumble will be an opportunity for journalists to explain the American emergency alert system.” Tompkins lays out the technical details, processes, and history behind the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, to help journalists explain it to their readers.


Philippines government orders independent news site Rappler, which has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, to shut down (The New York Times)

The Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines said the news site, Rappler, violated a constitutional rule that restricts ownership of media entities to Filipinos. The commission said that Rappler had employed a “deceptive scheme to circumvent” the rules, an allegation that the online publication denied and vowed to fight in court, prompting protests from industry groups who called the move an attack on press freedom. In a note to its readers, Rappler said: “What this means for you, and for us, is that the commission is ordering us to close shop, to cease telling you stories, to stop speaking truth to power, and to let go of everything that we have built — and created — with you since 2012.”

+ A survival guide to international freelancing (Columbia Journalism Review)


Subscription service MoviePass is going to revive moviegoing — or go broke trying (Forbes)

MoviePass is a service that lets subscribers go to the movies as many times as they want for $9.95 a month. The seven-year-old company touts itself as the solution to high ticket prices for consumers and stagnant ticket sales for theater chains. But MoviePass has had a rocky road to its current 1.5 million subscribers. MoviePass is making a bet that by losing money to acquire customers now, it will drive so much more traffic to theaters that eventually the chains will have to cut the subscription service in on the increased action — presuming, of course, that MoviePass doesn’t run out of money first.

+ Zig, an Instagram-like news app which has attracted investors including ex-Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter and music producer Quincy Jones (The New York Times)


While most media handled the president’s vulgar language with professionalism, fewer were successful in exploring the racist thinking behind it (The Washington Post)

The profanity used by the president to describe poor countries still managed to shock, and news organizations had to grapple with whether and how prominently to use his words. But the real issue wasn’t the language at all, writes Margaret Sullivan. What mattered much more was what Trump’s words really meant, and what the responsibilities of journalists were in conveying that meaning in some sensible way. Most news organizations handled the use of a profane word with professionalism. According to Sullivan, fewer, though, were successful at getting beyond the shock value of the word and exploring the racist thinking behind it. “Should the news media be using that charged word for the president of the United States? Only when absolutely warranted. Which it clearly is.”


Facebook overhauling News Feed is actually good for social media managers (Scott Kleinberg, Medium)

“When I first read Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about the major changes coming to Facebook’s News Feed, I reacted with a combination of shock, anger and closure,” writes Scott Kleinberg, former Chicago Tribune social media editor. “I realize that’s a weird combo, but what he said isn’t a surprise. We knew it was coming.” But changes to News Feed shouldn’t scare publishers. “The days of things just appearing in the feed because people are clicking share are over,” he says. “Now it’s about more meaningful social interactions, which is commenting and conversations around topics.”

+ Facebook is done with quality journalism. Deal with it. (Monday Note, Medium)


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