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Need to Know: July 10, 2017

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


You might have heard: In June, WSJ reported that Facebook is building a tool to allow users to subscribe to news organizations directly through its mobile app (Wall Street Journal)

But did you know: Facebook is preparing to test paid subscriptions, but it likely won’t satisfy all publishers (Digiday)
Facebook is moving forward on its plans to let users subscribe to publications through Instant Articles, and it’s expected to start testing with a small group of publishers by the end of the year. Lucia Moses reports that we can expect to see Facebook support metered paywall and “freemium” models, accommodating the strategies of larger publishers like NYT and WSJ. Moses writes that Facebook is in a predicament as it chooses which paywall strategies it supports: “Each publisher has a slightly different model, and each publisher will want to replicate its own model on Facebook. Facebook also believes in creating a uniform user experience, though.”

+ Noted: The News Media Alliance is seeking an antitrust exemption from Congress that would allow news organizations to negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook (New York Times); Fusion Media Group will relaunch the site Fusion as Splinter on July 24 (Fusion Media Group); Baltimore Sun Media Group plans to close Baltimore City Paper by the end of the year (Baltimore City Paper); Rachel Maddow warns media about a forged document on Trump and Russia, which she says her show received as a tip (Washington Post); Google is adding native ad formats to its AdSense placement service (Axios); Appalachian Newspapers Inc. acquired a group of newspapers in Eastern Kentucky from Civitas Media (Editor & Publisher)


Facebook removed the ability to edit headlines on links, and social media managers aren’t happy (Digiday)
Late last month, Facebook made a well-intentioned move by removing the ability to customize links’ headlines and descriptions on the social network, which it says was intended to help curb the spread of misinformation. But that’s having unintended effects across audience development, Max Willens reports. “The move limits what had been a key area of focus for publishers that looked to target specific audience segments on its platform,” Willens explains. “Prior to these changes, an audience development manager could publish a story that might appeal to many different groups multiple times, using different headlines in an attempt to maximize engagement and reach among each group.”


Keeping up with the ‘feverish’ pace of digital disruption in India (The Drum)
In a Q&A with The Drum’s Taruka Srivastav, Network 18 digital CEO Manish Maheshwari explains the various forces driving digital disruption in India: Consumer habits are shifting, and the Indian government is investing in accelerating the rate of digital usage in society. “Innovation is happening at a frantic pace given the size and diversity of audience,” Maheshwari explains. “The speed at which new users are getting added, particularly outside the metros and the growth in video consumption with the launch of Jio [low cost 4G network] is adding further to the feverish pace. … What we are witnessing in India today has no parallel in any other country.”

+ The BBC announces it’s adding 200 digital jobs: The new roles will be “working with content teams to design, create and test new technology, as well as helping build new apps, games and websites” (Manchester Evening News)


‘Why are job interviews getting so complicated?’ (Marketplace)
With the U.S. nearing full employment, companies are “getting pickier and less responsive at the same time” in their hiring processes, Ashley Milne-Tyte reports. An education consultant who started job hunting last year tells Milne-Tyte that the amount of “pre-work” for job interviews is increasing, with more companies requiring applicants to submit strategic plans, draft proposals and give written feedback on videos. Allison Hemming, who founded NY-based recruiting firm The Hired Guns, explains why more companies are requiring applicants to do more work: “They’re looking for more and more out of each individual person that they hire, and this is their way to manage the risk. I think some of it can be ridiculous and too long.” But Milne-Tye notes that it’s important for companies to remember that how they treat applicants in the hiring process reflects on the company: “How you hire is a huge part of your culture,” a job-searching journalist said.


Fighting for their survival, alt weeklies are turning to philanthropic support, sometimes with a stake in the coverage, as a source of income (CJR)
“Many alternative papers (and websites) are fighting harder than ever for a share of dwindling ad budgets and battling more established daily papers that have bigger staffs,” Gwyneth Doland writes for CJR. Doland reports that’s leading to more alt weeklies turning to foundations as a source of income — but that presents new ethical issues for these alt weeklies, given that the foundations sometimes have a stake in the coverage. Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism’s Chris Faraone says he’s comfortable taking money from groups with an interest in the coverage, and the institute’s “transparency removes any odor of impropriety.”

+ Earlier: Research from API in 2016 found that more than half of commercial media organizations are working with nonprofit organizations and funders; In January, API released guiding principles for nonprofit news organizations and funders of nonprofit media on how to navigate these relationships


When radio ratings got more precise, it changed how they saw their audiences. Will the same happen in podcasting? (Nieman Lab)
The last time audio producers got more data, it led to a significant shift in how they approached their audience. And given that Apple is preparing to give podcasters more data, Gabe Bullard asks: Will the same happen in podcasting? When Arbitron (now known as Nielsen) started using devices to track people’s radio listening habits, producers found there was a gap between what people were saying they were doing in the listening diaries and what they were actually doing — and radio stations shifted their strategies accordingly. “Talk got dialed back. To some degree, playing new music was seen as something of a liability,” explains radio consultant Fred Jacobs. “It even had an effect on something as mundane as where stations played their commercials — the more commercial breaks you take, the lower your ratings are going to be.”

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