Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: June 19, 2017

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


You might have heard: Basic analytics are coming to Apple’s podcasting platform, offering data on what parts of an episode people listen to and when they stop listening (Recode)

But did you know: The audience for online radio and podcast is continuing to grow, Pew says (Pew Research Center)
Over the last decade, terrestrial (AM/FM) radio has remained steady, Pew Research Center says: Terrestrial radio reaches almost the entire U.S. population, and its revenue has remained flat. What’s growing, Pew says, is online radio and podcast audiences. In 2016, 91% of all Americans age 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio in a given week, a number that’s changed little since 2009. Meanwhile, online radio and podcast audiences have shown significant growth: In 2009, 17 percent of Americans age 12 and older listened to online radio or podcasts in a given week; in 2017, that number was 53 percent. And since 2006, the number of Americans listening to podcasts has grown significantly: In 2017, 4 in 10 Americans age 12 or older report ever having listened to a podcast, and 24 percent have listened to a podcast in the last month; in 2008, that number was just 9 percent.

+ Noted: Los Angeles Times is offering buyouts to some newsroom employees, a decision that editor and publisher Davan Maharaj attributes to industry conditions (Poynter); “Will Tronc get squeezed out of a Sun-Times acquisition?” (The Street); Financial Times is splitting up its video content into verticals, trying to target more specific audiences and appeal to prospective advertisers (Digiday); Quartz creates a bot that scans new Trump tweets and compares them to tweets in Trump’s pre-inauguration archive (Quartz); Facebook could let people subscribe to publications through its app by the end of the year (Digiday)


Tips for applying for foundation grants (
More news organizations are looking to philanthropic support as a way to fund their journalism. But journalists and news organizations turning to philanthropic support often struggle to quantify their impact and raison d’être, Democracy and Media Foundation director Nienke Venema says. Venema shares four tips for journalists and news organizations looking to get projects funded: Impact doesn’t always have to come in the form of estimated audience numbers, show that you’ve considered your audience, pitch projects you believe in over projects you think the funder will like, and try to build a relationship with the foundation.

+ Earlier: API’s research on the ethical terrain of nonprofit journalism shows that philanthropic funding is becoming an important source of revenue for some commercial news organizations; Our guidelines for nonprofit funders and news organizations on navigating those relationships and our Strategy Study on how commercial and nonprofit newsrooms can work together to benefit and change journalism


‘This was the election where the newspapers lost their monopoly on the political news agenda’ (BuzzFeed News)
In the U.K. election, Jim Waterson writes that it was left-wing hyperpartisan websites that gained traction with readers, bringing in audience numbers that rival the U.K.’s biggest newspapers. “The Sun and the Daily Mail may still sell 3 million copies a day between them, but their decades-long claim to dominating public opinion may have finally come to an end,” Waterson writes. “For decades the UK political news agenda has been remarkably homogenous, largely set by a small group of lobby correspondents chasing the same stories – albeit from different political angles – and covering the same agreed set of political events. … But now hyperpartisan sites have upped their output and gained audiences that rival the print circulation of the biggest newspapers. As a result, more and more people are rejecting the mainstream news agenda, enabled by the widespread adoption of smartphones and articles produced by sites that have a deep understanding of how to go viral on Facebook.”

+ Google may be facing a fine of more than EU €1 billion “for abusing its market dominance in search, a sanction that would have far-reaching implications for how the company operates online” (Financial Times); Google says it’s taking steps in Europe to fight online terror that include using technology to identify extremist content and taking a tougher stance on videos that clearly violate policies (The Keyword)


With its acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon is headed toward becoming the biggest company in the world, finding few things it’s unable to sell online (Quartz)
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods may be remembered as the moment when an industry resistant to change “suddenly gave way to something modern and innovative,” Oliver Staley writes. While there’s been other companies that tried to sell groceries via the Internet, they’ve faced some significant challenges — and none has gained traction. But Staley argues that Amazon and Whole Foods are worth paying attention to: “What makes this time different? Part of it is the track record of Amazon and Jeff Bezos; from books to television shows, there are few, if any, things they haven’t been able to sell online.”


Megyn Kelly made a convincing case for why her interview with Alex Jones was a legitimate story (CNN Media)
Megyn Kelly’s interview with Alex Jones “credibly justified” covering the phenomenon of Infowars, Brian Lowry writes. “Jones’ influence clearly merits examination, especially given his periodic access to the Trump administration and their overlapping constituencies. The fringe element that Jones represents needs to be understood, which isn’t the same as needing to be condoned,” Lowry argues. “If this had been a ‘60 Minutes’ interview, Jones did enough shuffling to look plenty squirrelly, without delivering what might be called a classic Mike Wallace moment. The main test, which the segment passed, was whether ‘Sunday Night’ articulated a tough enough case and cross-examination to demonstrate that this was a legitimate topic — even at the risk of providing Infowars wider mainstream exposure.”

+ Margaret Sullivan: “Bottom line on NBC’s Alex Jones piece: Strong editing gave it an edge & made him look like a kook. Still a win for him; boosts his profile” (@Sulliview, Twitter)

+ “For the media companies that wield them, non-compete agreements are a risk-free insurance policy against a competitive labor market. For the reporters who sign them, they’re just another barrier to job mobility in an increasingly precarious industry. These contracts keep beat reporters from the few jobs they are most qualified for and have the best chance of getting. They effectively ask reporters to commit to six months of unemployment to change jobs within their profession.” (CJR)


Does creating separate news sites for women reinforce the idea that women’s issues are less important? (New Republic)
In light of The Washington Post’s new vertical The Lily, Clio Chang asks whether we need separate sites focused on “women’s news.” “The whole concept of women’s media seems to narrow, rather than expand, what is considered a Millennial woman’s issue. It fails to acknowledge the fact that issues like welfare, minimum wage, foreign policy, and health care are all inextricably intertwined with gender issues,” Chang writes. “These problems are not exclusive to The Lily. The corporatization of ‘feminist’ media is nothing new. And the media’s presumption has always been that the serious news reader is a male one. … The problem flows two ways — ’women’s news’ is often not considered sufficiently meaty enough for the world of male journalists, while more general issues are seen to be of insufficient import for women. In The Lily’s case, the decision to create a separate space for millennial women only bolsters the idea, intentionally or not, that they are less intelligent and less curious than the rest of the Post’s readers.”

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