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Need to Know: May 31, 2017

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


You might have heard: The New York Times is in the midst of a five-year plan to double its digital revenue by 2020 (Poynter): Part of its strategy to achieve this goal includes stepping back from platforms and focusing on its own products

But did you know: The New York Times’ next big paid product will be in Cooking, which could be ‘a big engine of paid reader growth’ (The Street)
Around midyear, Ken Doctor writes that we can expect NYT to launch a new paid product in its Cooking vertical. Cooking has pulled in a monthly digital audience of 10 million, and NYT is expected to “convert the product from an audience-building free model to a harvest-reader-revenue model, with Cooking becoming freemium.” Doctor writes that this can be seen as the next step in NYT’s plan to double its digital revenue by 2020: “News subscriptions will anchor the Times, certainly, but it’s the wider arc of products aimed at the unique Times reader demographic and psyche that may well provide a big engine of paid reader growth in the next five years.”

+ Noted: Leaving its current home on Medium, Bill Simmons’ The Ringer will move to Vox Media’s platform, with Vox Media and The Ringer splitting ad revenue while The Ringer maintains editorial independence (Wall Street Journal); New research finds that while repetition can help misinformation take hold, it can also help fact-checkers” (Poynter); Over the last year, more than 30 “create-your-own” fake news site have generated 13 million engagements on Facebook (BuzzFeed News); BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti argues the lawsuit over the Trump dossier is “an outrageous attempt to try to silence the American media” (Business Insider)


Welcome API’s summer fellow Emily Case: Helping local newsrooms cover refugee populations
We’re excited to welcome Emily Case, a graduate student at the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications, as API’s 2017 summer fellow. She’ll be working on a project related to how newsrooms connect with refugee populations. Here, Emily explains the driving forces behind her project and what opportunities newsrooms have to connect with refugee populations.

+ You can learn more about API’s summer fellowship here, and sign up to be notified when applications open for 2018


Listening 101: To become a good listener, you need to place yourself in a group of people you know nothing about and start to ask questions (The Coral Project)
“The hardest lesson to teach around listening is that you’re not doing it right the first time around,” Annemarie Dooling writes on the experience of teaching the art of listening to a class at WVU. Dooling outlines some of the most important lessons her students learned about listening: To become a good listener, you have to put yourself in a group of people that you know nothing about, you have to learn to hold your tongue when asking questions of people different than you so they can respond, and one of the most important questions you can ask is “why?”

+ In this week’s Local Edition, Poynter’s Kristen Hare asks, how can newsrooms address the bad parts of their culture, while keeping the parts that are working? (Poynter)

+ Google has a new tool that lets you create simple data visualizations as GIFs (


‘Why the Chinese will pay for content that Americans won’t’ (Bloomberg)
There’s a significant difference in mindset between Americans and Chinese when it comes to online content, Selina Wang reports: Americans tend to believe that content online should be free, while the Chinese have built successful businesses based on charging people for apps, news, entertainment and social media. Wang explains that there’s two important factors driving this trend: These business models emerged out of the gaming world, where mobile games made paying for content seem normal, and the widespread adoption of mobile payments in China skipped over the American technology of credit card payment systems to directly connecting to a user’s bank account.

+ More on paying for news: In an interview with eMarketer, Sourcepoint co-founder Brian Kane argues that in order for readers to stop using ad blockers, publishers need to offer them more subscription options in the form of ad-free or ad-lite experiences (eMarketer); Earlier: Research from API finds 53 percent of American adults pay for news, with their top reasons for subscribing including coverage of topics they care about and subscribing in response to a discount or promotion


Data and creativity don’t have to be at odds: 3 ways to use data to make you more creative (Microsoft Design)
“If you are a designer, engineer, or in any role that creates things, you probably hear a lot about ‘big data’ and being ‘data driven,’” writes Microsoft’s Bill Pardi. “The assumption is that data equals insight and direction. But does it? Data, any data, in any amount brings with it problems that make it very dangerous to rely on alone.” Pardi explains three ways to approach data to help you be more creative. “Creativity allows us to take the data we have, question our starting assumptions about what the data is telling us, and experiment until we make something useful out of it,” Pardi writes on the relationship between creativity and data.


How can philanthropy help rebuild trust in news? (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy)
When thinking about how to rebuild the public’s trust in news, Josh Stearns says we have to consider the complex web of technological, economic, cultural and political forces that play into this problem. And Stearns says there’s an important role for foundations to play in understanding those forces: While a number of foundations have organized investments and projects around trust in news, Stearns writes that foundations need to focus on both short-term and long-term strategies. That might mean funding research now on trust and the spread of misinformation, and also supporting efforts to design a new vision for news literacy.

+ In an interview with Josh Sternberg for his newsletter The Media Nut, Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton argues, “The accurate belief that people love consuming video doesn’t mean people love consuming news video” (The Media Nut, MailChimp)


The new meaning of new media in local news (CJR)
“New media” is taking on a new meaning in the local news landscape, Vauhini Vara writes: A number of local news sites have launched in the last few years with business models based around events, newsletters, and social media. Notably, these organizations are also rejecting the idea that scale is necessary for success in digital media: “We’re not a BuzzFeed-scale company. If you want to reach the most people in Miami, you should buy ads on Facebook,” says WhereBy.Us CEO Chris Sopher, which publishes The New Tropic in Miami and The Evergrey in Seattle. Sopher says for The New Tropic, his pitch to clients is that his company can offer access to the most influential people in Miami.

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