Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: Nov. 14, 2017

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


You might have heard: Spirited Media laid off staff at its three local news sites earlier this month, saying that it would be seeking new streams of revenue going forward (CJR)

But did you know: Spirited Media is abandoning direct-sold advertising and refocusing its revenue strategy around events, membership programs and consulting (Spirited Media, Medium)
Earlier this month, Spirited Media laid off staff at its news sites in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Denver. Now, Spirited Media’s Chris Krewson is providing a look into what the company’s strategy will be like going forward. The company will no longer pursue direct-sold advertising, and will instead refocus around what Krewson says has always been “a key revenue line,” events. Spirited Media will also work with the News Revenue Hub to launch membership programs in its cities in early 2018, and it plans to offer consulting services to similar local news companies.

+ Noted: LA Times’ new editor Lewis D’Vorkin told staff not to retweet praise of the investigative series on Disney, elevating already high tensions in the newsroom (New York Times); “Journalists working for Facebook say the social media site’s fact-checking tools have largely failed and that the company has exploited their labor for a PR campaign” (Guardian); Radhika Jones will be the next editor of Vanity Fair: Jones is currently the editorial director of the books department at NYT and a former Time magazine editor (New York Times); Bloomberg is launching a new Twitter network in December, and is pricing ad partnerships at $1.5 million to $3 million (Axios)


After a decade, it’s time to reinvent social media in newsrooms
A new API survey of 59 U.S. newsrooms found that social media teams are largely doing what they’ve done for a decade. In this Strategy Study, API’s Jane Elizabeth explains that it’s time to rethink the structure, mission, responsibilities and skill set of the newsroom social media team. This Strategy Study examines a reimagined social media team that finds and fights misinformation, engages audiences with a goal of increasing trust, and participates as full partners in a newsroom’s accountability reporting efforts.


How to prioritize the safety of female journalists (MediaShift)
“Each year we read tragic stories about journalists who are killed on the job,” Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, writes. “The recent series of attacks on women journalists, though, reflects new levels of violence and retribution that deserve special attention.” Munoz suggests several ways to keep female journalists safe: IWMF has found that hostile environment first aid trainings help both male and female journalists learn how to escape dangerous situations, for example.


The Telegraph is using Apple News to drive subscriptions to its premium product (Digiday)
“Apple News is a channel that consistently and continuously performs well for us,” The Telegraph’s digital managing director Dora Michail tells Digiday. The Telegraph started selling ads in Apple News in January, and it’s been using Apple News since April to drive subscriptions to its premium product. Though The Telegraph wouldn’t say how many subscriptions it’s gotten as a result of Apple News, its channel receives 5 million monthly visitors and delivers 70 million monthly ad impressions; as a point of comparison, CNN said it received about 36.5 million unique readers on Apple News in 2016.

+ Financial Times launches Future of Europe: The collaboration between FT and six universities will be “a conversation with the bright young minds inheriting Europe about the issues that will shape their future” (Financial Times)


Spotify is trying to diversify beyond streaming subscriptions and will start selling beauty products with Merchbar (TechCrunch)
Spotify announced Monday that it will start selling beauty products with Merchbar, which Spotify started working with last year to sell artists’ merchandise on their Spotify profile pages. “To be clear, this is not a new revenue stream for Spotify, which does not take a cut of any of the sales that happen through the platform. The idea, instead, is to sweeten the deal for artists and give them more opportunities to make money on Spotify beyond streaming,” Ingrid Lunden explains. “While Spotify is not getting a cut on these sales, it could help the company keep artists dedicated to using it for their marketing efforts, and users coming back to do more on the platform than just listen to music, remaining sticky on both sides of its marketplace.”


‘Trump won, and Northam crushed Gillespie. Why believe polls ever again?’ (Washington Post)
After polls incorrectly predicted that Clinton would win the presidential election and Republican Ed Gillespie would win Virginia’s governor race, Margaret Sullivan asks, why should we keep believing polls? FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver argues that the numbers themselves aren’t the problem; it’s how journalists interpret those numbers. “[Journalists] start out with an idea and backfill the justification,” Silver says, which leads to dramatic, horserace coverage. The solution, Silver says, is provide more context to polls and seek out more help interpreting the numbers, as well as using anecdotal reporting in tandem with the polling numbers.


A Chicago DNAinfo reporter on the lost opportunities to tell neighborhood stories: ‘The community relied on us as much as we relied on them’ (Poynter)
“Every single reporter at DNAinfo was a daily voice for the people. We told stories that oftentimes would get overlooked. The community relied on us as much as we relied on them. This, in some ways, was a partnership,” Andrea V. Watson writes on what’s lost with the closure of DNAinfo. “The day DNAinfo folded was a sad day, especially for the South Side. I wonder what’s going to happen now. Will stories get left untold or will someone else step up? I applaud the work of other journalists in this city. I wasn’t the only one who covered those neighborhoods, but I think it’s safe to say that DNAinfo had a different model and that allowed us to really embed ourselves in those neighborhoods.”

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.

The American Press Institute

Our mission

We help transform news organizations for an audience-centered future.

Our programs for publishers focus on four things:

  • 1. Understand your audience
  • 2. Get your audience to pay
  • 3. Transform your culture
  • 4. Do your best journalism
  • Find out more about API »

API solutions for publishers

What we can do for you

API offers a suite of original tools and services for solving the biggest challenges in news:

  • Decide what beats to cover and how
  • Identify and develop the skills you need
  • Assess and improve your culture
  • Drive more reader revenue
  • Drive loyalty through accountability journalism
  • Make analytics work for you
  • Contact us to find out how »