Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: March 14, 2016

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: The Boston Globe launched Crux in 2014 as a niche news site focused on coverage of the Catholic church

But did you know: The Boston Globe will no longer publish Crux, but it will continue elsewhere in some form (Boston Business Journal)
The Boston Globe is shutting down its Catholicism vertical Crux effective April 1 and turning the site over to John L. Allen Jr. Allen says that the site will continue on in some form, and he is “determined to make sure that Crux continues.” In a letter to Boston Globe staff on the decision, editor Brian McGrory said the problem with Crux was its business model: “We simply haven’t been able to develop the financial model of big-ticket, Catholic-based advertisers that was envisioned when we launched Crux back in 2014.”

+ Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen echoes the idea that Crux’s business model had issues: “The site’s content was generally ahead of its business model, which didn’t stretch far beyond advertising” (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: Digital First Media bids $45.5 million for Freedom Communications’ Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise, setting a minimum price for a formal auction on Wednesday (Los Angeles Daily News); BuzzFeed launches Swarm, a new tool that lets advertisers run simultaneous campaigns on its channels on platforms including Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (Adweek); New York Times buys HelloSociety, the digital marketing agency that created a network of “Pinfluencers” on Pinterest that posted on the behalf of brands, and HelloSociety will be integrated in T Brand Studio (Re/code)

TRY THIS AT HOME

How The Washington Post is making long stories easier for users to finish (Nieman Lab)
The Washington Post released a set of tools last week designed to make its longer stories easier for readers to complete, including a bookmark tool that lets readers save their spot in a story. The reader enters their email address, and the Post will send them an email with a unique URL that will allow them to return to their spot the story on any device. Other features released last week include a pop-up that appears when a user has been inactive on the page for more than five minutes asking if the user wants to save their spot and subtitles for embedded audio clips.

OFFSHORE

Trinity Mirror’s plan to better monetize its mobile audience includes reducing ad clutter and taking advantage of location data (Digiday)
Recognizing the power of its mobile audience, Trinity Mirror has a new plan to better monetize those users. Among its ideas, Trinity Mirror will reduce ad clutter and get rid of intrusive ads, which will ideally reduce users’ desire to use ad blockers. Trinity Mirror will also make better use of its location data by offering location-relevant ads to users, in addition to the location-based push notifications it already offers advertisers.

OFFBEAT

‘Group chat doesn’t suck. The way we’re using it sucks’ (Fast Company)
Slack and other workplace group chat services have drawn some criticism recently, but Fast Company’s Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan writes that the problem isn’t with the apps themselves. Instead, the problem is with how some people are using the chat apps and the culture created around them. Campbell-Dollaghan writes: “Group chat isn’t a solution. It’s a tool, or empty vessel, for a team to use. … Here at Fast Company, Slack is more work-focused and functional, and that’s due not to the UX of the app, but the culture established by editors and writers.”

UP FOR DEBATE

The Guardian asks its readers why they use ad-blockers: ‘I can accept the annoyance of online advertising, but what I can’t accept is being stalked across the web’ (Guardian)
After the U.K.’s culture secretary John Whittingdale described adblocking companies as a “modern-day protection racket,” The Guardian asked its readers why they use ad blockers and what media companies should do to make money in the future. A copywriter from Essex, U.K., said that while he can deal with annoying ads online, tracking is the main motivation for using an ad blocker: “In any other industry, [the use of trackers] would be called ‘spyware’ or ‘malware’ … Modern online advertising is more about building individual profiles than it is about selling ads — and that’s wrong.”

+ Amnesty International ran a campaign through AdBlock Plus on Saturday that replaced advertisements with messages from surveillance and privacy activists, including Edward Snowden and Ai Weiwei (The Verge)

SHAREABLE

Why are legacy news organizations still putting boring headlines on interesting stories? (Slate)
In 2016, it’s unacceptable that legacy news organizations are still putting uninteresting headlines on fascinating stories, Slate’s Will Oremus writes, especially considering how important headlines are to getting users to click on stories. As an example, the headlines on a story about how a Florida woman was shot by her 4-year-old son while driving from local newspapers included things like “4-Year-Old Shoots Mom in Car” and “4-Year-Old Boy Accidentally Shoots His Mom in Putnam County,” while the Daily Mail gets at something a bit more shocking: “Pro-gun poster girl is shot in the back by her four-year-old son while driving in Florida after the boy found her pistol on backseat of truck.”

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

Featured topics

Go deeper on…

Dive deep on everything we produce about these key topics.

Strategy Studies

The best practices for innovation within news organizations

This Strategy Study presents examples and insights about journalism innovation, offering actionable advice and methods to move your journalism and business forward.