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Need to Know: Jan. 25, 2018

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Lewis D’Vorkin, who started Forbes’ contributor model, was named editor of the Los Angeles Times in October 2017 (Los Angeles Times)

But did you know: Lewis D’Vorkin, the Los Angeles Times’ ‘Prince of Darkness,’ has vague digital plans for the paper, but his current and former colleagues are skeptical (CJR)
“My goal is short, and it’s important: To combine the values and standards of traditional media with the dynamics of digital publishing,” Lewis D’Vorkin told the L.A. Times staff in a recent staff meeting. But Lyz Lenz reports for CJR that it’s unclear what D’Vorkin means by that, and the staff of the L.A. Times are “are tired of vague plans for a digital overhaul that go nowhere.” D’Vorkin’s leadership at the L.A. Times has already caused controversy, as he said that someone at the paper was “morally bankrupt” and emphasized a future with more of what “mobile and social consumers want — video, photos, graphics, gifs and more.” A former Forbes staffer described D’Vorkin’s leadership style to Lenz: “Lewis always said the right things — every quarter we had celebrations, with big cakes with Warren Buffet’s face on it, celebrating our new accomplishments. He was good at giving speeches and telling us revenue was up. But soon, it was a running joke in the newsroom that literally once a quarter he would have a ‘game-changing’ idea for journalism.”

+ The L.A. Times and Tronc’s nine other newspapers are offering some digital subscriptions for as little as 2 cents per week, or $1.04 per year (Poynter)

+ Noted: Pope Francis condemned “fake news” and praised journalists as “protectors of news,” saying “We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place” (New York Times); Analysis by the Carolina Data Desk at UNC and Melody Kramer finds “data-driven reporting is time-consuming and labor-intensive [and] new products and initiatives should reduce the existing mental load for reporters and newsrooms” (Carolina Data Desk); Ze Frank steps down as the president of BuzzFeed Entertainment Group, moving into a new role as chief research and development officer (Hollywood Reporter)

TRY THIS AT HOME

Have an audience and tone in mind for your newsletters, A/B test to increase your open rates, and more tips for building a better newsletter (Nieman Lab)
At an ONA local event in New York City on Tuesday, newsletter editors from HuffPost to Vox Media to The New Yorker shared their best tips for creating newsletters that readers will want to interact with. Some highlights: HuffPost’s newsletter editor Alexandra March emphasized the importance of having a tone, mission and audience in mind for each newsletter you create; Eater’s newsletter editor Jenny Zhang explained how to A/B test elements of your newsletter from subject line to emojis; and New Yorker’s Dan Oshinsky suggested ways to build email lists, from homepage units to sign-up posts to shareable sign-up pages.

+ Our collection of advice and resources for email newsletters (Better News)

OFFSHORE

German audience engagement startup Opinary raises €3 million to expand into the United States (EU Startups)
Berlin-based audience engagement startup Opinary just closed a €3 million funding round, with which it will expand its presence into the United States. Opinary lets readers share their opinions with online content, with the goal of turning one-time visitors into loyal community members. Opinary already works with a number of publishers with presences in the United States, including NBC News and HuffPost.

OFFBEAT

Are remote workers more productive than in-office workers? It might depend on the job (The Atlantic)
Studies on remote work seem to be divided on whether it makes employees more productive: Some have found that remote workers are more productive, while others have found that proximity boosts productivity. As companies such as IBM call remote workers back into the office, Jerry Useem writes why it might depend on the kind of job when it comes to whether remote work will increase productivity: “If it’s personal productivity — how many sales you close or customer complaints you handle — then the research, on balance, suggests that it’s probably better to let people work where and when they want. For jobs that mainly require interactions with clients (consultant, insurance salesman) or don’t require much interaction at all (columnist), the office has little to offer besides interruption. But other types of work hinge on what might be called ‘collaborative efficiency’ — the speed at which a group successfully solves a problem. And distance seems to drag collaborative efficiency down.”

UP FOR DEBATE

Facebook’s publisher trust survey will likely create a few winners, while others will see the same decline in referral traffic (The Verge)
Anxiety about Facebook’s two-question survey on the news organizations users trust might be misplaced, Casey Newton argues. “No one knows how important the survey rankings will be to the distribution of news on Facebook,” Newton explains. “Maybe publishers’ trust scores will determine whether they live or die. But I’d be very surprised. It seems more likely that there will be a handful of modest winners, taking a slightly larger share of a shrinking universe of clicks.” Newton argues that other publishers will see the same trend Chartbeat highlighted in a blog post earlier this week: Since October 2017, its clients have seen a 15 percent decline in Facebook referrals.

SHAREABLE

‘We, as a society, need investigative journalists more than ever,’ the prosecutor in the Larry Nassar case says (Poynter)
As more than 150 women shared their stories of being abused by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, the prosecutor in the case praised the investigative work of the Indianapolis Star: “It shouldn’t take investigative journalists to expose predators. But thank god we have these journalists, and that they exposed this truth and that they continue to cover this story. Thank god Rachael Denhollander made that first contact with the reporter and decided to allow them to publish her name,” Michigan assistant attorney general Angela Povilaitis said. “We, as a society, need investigative journalists more than ever. What finally started this reckoning and ended this decades-long cycle of abuse was investigative reporting.”

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