Need to Know: July 21, 2016

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


You might have heard: Mobile apps and mobile websites are for very different audiences: Mobile app users are made up of a news organization’s most loyal users, while mobile web users are often coming from social media or other referrals

But did you know: More people access news via desktop and smartphone browsers, but news app users spend more time reading (Engaging News Project)
New research from the Engaging News Project shows that news app users spend a lot more time reading than those who read on desktop and smartphone browsers. While desktop and smartphone browsers far outweigh smartphone app users in terms of unique visitors and average daily visitors, smartphone app users spend an average of 95.7 minutes each month reading; for desktop browser users, that number is 11.7 minutes and for smartphone browser users, it’s 3.7 minutes.

+ Noted: AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll will leave the AP at the end of the year after 14 years leading the AP’s global news operations (Associated Press); The Washington Post created a newsletter delivery platform called Paloma as part of its Arc CMS (Washington Post); Nearly 50 NYT journalists have accepted buyout offers (The Wrap); Almost 50 percent of Slate’s revenue now comes from native advertising (Digiday)


A new resource from the University of Missouri helps journalists report on race and hunger (Reynolds Journalism Institute)
Hunger and race are two issues that communities face every day, but Tom Warhover writes that few newsrooms can sustain coverage of either of these issues over time. To help solve that problem, the Reynolds Journalism Institute created a new resource called Reporting Stories Hidden in Plain Sight. The web-based tool includes definitions of key terms, timelines of important events and links to datasets, in addition to examples of good coverage of race and hunger in journalism and academic studies.


In China, WeChat is a part of everyday life, taking on a role that combines Facebook, LinkedIn, iMessage, Slack and Skype (The Information)
Those who are trying to understand WeChat’s role in Chinese life may ask questions like, is WeChat the Facebook of China? But Zara Zhang says that’s the wrong question to ask. WeChat takes on a combination of tools that Americans use, and Zhang writes that its role in Chinese life offers important lessons for technology in the U.S. Zhang writes: “There is simply no U.S. equivalent of WeChat, which is really more of a lifestyle app centered around chat than merely a messaging app. … It will take more than adding a new features to get the kind of loyalty that WeChat has. WeChat should be understood as less of an app and more as a way of life.”


What ad agencies want from Google AMP ads: Smaller file sizes and video AMP ads (Digiday)
Google is bringing its Accelerated Mobile Pages technology to mobile ads, and Digiday’s Jessica Davies talks to agencies about what they want to see from AMP ads. One creative director emphasized the importance of making sure AMP ads are scaled, which will force advertisers to adopt the format, while another agency said they wanted to see ads that use less mobile data for the user. Though video ads aren’t part of Google’s plans right now, agencies also said they wanted to see fast video ads: “Agencies are trying to get to the point where we can deliver rich experiences like video that can be delivered fast and don’t slow page loads. The next wave will be delivering video in low file sizes. That’s the dream.”


Ailes’ departure could lead to a younger future for Fox News (Fusion)
“[Roger] Ailes was clearly the right person to make Fox News what it is today,” Felix Salmon writes, “but he was never quite as convincing in the role of the man who could successfully navigate its transition to new realities, let alone reach a younger audience that increasingly doesn’t watch television at all. Indeed, while he certainly didn’t leave on the kind of terms that he or his bosses would ever have wanted or anticipated, it’s quite likely that his Murdoch bosses are feeling quite positive right now about what an Ailes-free Fox News might look like.”

+ Ken Doctor echoes the idea that a reimagined Fox News may be on the way: “There’s no doubt that cable will experience a significant audience drop-off from this year’s Trump high. As the Republican Party likely searches for its future, the Murdoch scions may well — unexpectedly — have been forced to reimagine the Fox News that Roger Ailes built” (Politico Media)


Some reasons newspapers have dropped their paywalls: Public emergencies, experimentation, and wider access (Nieman Lab)
78 percent of newspapers with circulations over 50,000 have some sort of digital subscription model, but once those subscription models are in place, what will cause a newspaper to take a paywall down? A new study from the University of Southern California looks at 69 instances (41 permanent, 28 temporary) where newspapers dropped or eliminated their paywalls. Some of the reasons newspapers dropped their paywalls: Public emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy, wider access for reasons such as a public service they’re providing (i.e. a community calendar), attracting new readers, and experimenting with the best way to charge for news.