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Need to Know: June 5, 2017

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


You might have heard: At the 2015 ASNE/APME conference, a panel including Spirited Media’s Jim Brady and Charleston Post & Courier’s Mitch Pugh suggested that the industry is failing on diversity goals because we don’t know how to recruit well and financial cuts make it more difficult

But did you know: Online-only outlets are closer to achieving gender balance than print or TV news outlets (CJR)
Looking at print and TV news, journalism appears to have a gender problem, Amy Zipkin writes: The Women’s Media Center found that men report 78 percent of broadcast news and produce 62 percent of print news. But Zipkin reports that online news outlets may be closer than print or TV news to achieving gender balance. Data from ASNE shows that 50 percent of employees at online-only news organizations are female, in comparison to just 38 percent at daily newspapers. “There is speculation that those [online-only] organizations do a better job recruiting and retaining women. But that is all we have on that right now — speculation, no hard data,” explains ASNE executive director Teri Hayt on the findings. Zipkin explains that part of this may be that several online-only organizations have focused on women: theSkimm is a notable example, as well as Mic’s channel Slay and Bustle.

+ Noted: New Jersey lawmakers introduce a bill that would allocate $20 million from the sale of the state’s public TV licenses to fund local journalism (; PEN America, the Society of Professional Journalists, Free Press and Reporters Without Borders are calling on Congress to investigate the alleged assault of a Guardian US reporter and asking President Trump to denounce violence that could be inspired by his anti-press rhetoric (Washington Post); The Charlotte Agenda released its first print product last week: City Notes, a newcomer’s guide to the city, has already brought in $100,000 (Poynter); The Guardian US is asking readers for contributions to pay for a specific project: It’s launching a campaign to raise $50,000 for an editorial series on public land in the U.S. (Digiday)


Building print habits on digital devices: Features like crossword puzzles and comics are often the features that readers come to newspapers for (Nieman Lab)
“We journalists like to think it’s the quality of our news reports that drives loyalty to our work. And that’s true. To a point,” former Rocky Mountain news editor John Temple writes. “But an editor learns pretty quickly that it’s the features readers look forward to, the things they anticipate with pleasure, that keep many coming back for more,” such as crossword puzzles and comics. Those habit-forming features are something newspapers have lost online, Temple explains, with readers going to national and international for puzzles and comics. To help newspapers build these print habits with their digital products, Temple launched PuzzleMe, a platform for creating visually appealing puzzles around specific interests.


Should local news outlets in the UK make political endorsements? (David Higgerson)
In a report released Friday, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that party leaders on both sides in the U.K. offered little access to local news outlets, “[restricting] opportunities to be scrutinised by local reporters.” On those findings, David Higgerson asks: Is this because local news outlets aren’t making endorsements, as outlets in the U.S. do? “I know editorial impartiality is something we treasure, but we also pride ourselves on fighting for our communities and informing our communities,” Higgerson writes. “[Endorsements in the U.S. are] not knee-jerk, it’s considered and involves months of planning. … Imagine if newsrooms here did that for every council seat at election time. It would require a much greater level of engagement and justification from every council candidate than we get at the moment.”

+ Politico will launch a London edition of Playbook, written by Daily Mirror political editor Jack Blanchard: The London edition will be Playbook’s third edition following the launch of Brussels Playbook in 2015 (Digiday)


Companies like IBM and Bank of America are bringing remote workers back into the office, but remote work in the US is growing quickly (Wall Street Journal)
Last month, WSJ published a story on IBM, a pioneer of remote work, bringing its remote workforce back into physical offices. But despite pushback from IBM and other major companies including Yahoo and Bank of America, Christopher Mims reports that remote work is growing quickly in the U.S. — and it likely won’t be stopped. Surveys conducted by Gallup suggest that the percentage of Americans who did some or all of their work from home was 43% in 2016, up from 39% in 2012; the percentage that exclusively work remotely grew from 15% in 2012 to 20% in 2016. Dell’s chief human resources officer Steve Price explains that making the transition to remote work can be costly for a company, but it can also be an important transition to invest in: “You have to be committed to this digital transformation, and be ready to invest to do this well. Otherwise you have a lot of morale issues, engagement issues and a bad cultural response.”

+ “In a world where everything is digital, the word loses meaning”: A new study found that three-quarters of client-side marketers and agency leaders believe the term “digital” will disappear as a “meaningful differentiator” in the next five years (Advertising Age)


A Q&A with former NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan on the elimination of the role (BuzzFeed News)
In the latest edition of his NewFeed podcast, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith talks to former NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan on the paper’s decision to eliminate the role of public editor, the importance of the role, and the structural problems with the role of public editor.  “I do understand why they want to get rid of it, or have gotten rid of it. But I think it comes at kind of a bad time because the paper is under assault,” Sullivan says in a response to a question about whether getting rid of the public editor will hurt NYT’s credibility. “But … I didn’t find there was tremendous awareness of what the public editor was, or that there even was one.”

+ Current public editor Liz Spayd published her last column on Friday: “It’s not really about how many critics there are, or where they’re positioned, or what Times editor can be rounded up to produce answers. It’s about having an institution that is willing to seriously listen to that criticism, willing to doubt its impulses and challenge the wisdom of the inner sanctum. Having the role was a sign of institutional integrity, and losing it sends an ambiguous signal: Is the leadership growing weary of such advice or simply searching for a new model? We’ll find out soon enough,” Spayd writes (New York Times)

+ More on editing changes at NYT: A Q&A with standards editor Phil Corbett on how the restructuring will affect day-to-day story editing (Washington Post); “If [the changes work], the Times’ effort to streamline and update editing for its combined print and digital products could be both a bellwether and a learning opportunity for an industry that’s being asked to adapt to new technology and produce more journalism with less money” (Poynter)


A successful nonprofit partnership: By working with Charlottesville Tomorrow, The Daily Progress was able to boost its reporting in the face of layoffs (CJR)
After working together on political coverage and a voter guide, both nonprofit Charlottesville Tomorrow and local newspaper The Daily Progress say the partnership strengthened their organizations — and Charlottesville Tomorrow is now looking to expand. Charlottesville Tomorrow was able to help The Daily Progress boost their reporting in the face of layoffs, while The Daily Progress helped Charlottesville Tomorrow reach a wider audience and develop credibility within the community. “There are huge knowledge gaps at the local level because of challenges being faced by traditional newsrooms,” explains Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Brian Wheeler. “I think nonprofit partnerships with for-profit news entities is a good way to fill those gaps.”

+ Earlier: Our report on how commercial and nonprofit newsrooms can work together

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