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Need to Know: Nov. 15, 2017

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


You might have heard: In its Q3 results, The New York Times reported that its surge in digital subscriptions and digital advertising made up for print losses (New York Times)

But did you know: The New York Times may be headed toward a future where it isn’t profitable to produce a print edition (Nieman Lab)
The New York Times “may well be facing a future where you should set printed revenue at zero, because it will not be a profitable exercise to make it,” CEO Mark Thompson says. Print advertising now only accounts for 17 percent of NYT’s total revenue, while reader revenue from both print and digital makes up 62 percent of all revenue. When Thompson came in as CEO in 2012, reader revenue made up just 44 percent. “The print product is a mature platform. It is … an economically important platform to us. It’s possible that platform will plateau. I think it’s more likely that the platform will eventually go away. It’ll go away because the economics will no longer make sense to us or our customers,” Thompson says.

+ Noted: Two journalists who were arrested during Inauguration Day protests are facing trial, after charges against seven other journalists were dropped: Photographer Alexei Wood’s lawyer says he could face up to 61 years in prison if convicted (New York Times); A robocall from a person pretending to be a Washington Post reporter is targeting people in Alabama, asking for “damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars” and says “we will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report” (Axios); An experiment from Harvard University finds that small news outlets can have a “profound and measurable effect on national discourse” (MediaShift)


Podcast ‘super listeners’ can be a powerful marketing tool for news organizations (Knight Foundation, Medium)
A new report from the Knight Foundation explores the idea of podcast “super listeners,” which the report defines as “a highly engaged consumer of informative digital audio content.” These listeners consume more podcast content than other listeners, both by number of hours and number of shows, they tend to rely on mobile consumption of podcasts, and they’re willing to share podcast content with others, particularly through word of mouth. The report suggests that news organizations can use these listeners to their own advantage: “While they don’t represent the body of podcast listeners across participating publishers, they do represent the most active, most engaged and most willing to take supportive actions. They can also be tapped as ambassadors for the medium. Finding ways to ‘ask for the order’ and providing them with incentives to share new podcasts (and indeed, the medium in general) with their friends and family as passionate advocates and influencers might be one of the most powerful marketing tools at our disposal.”

+ “This is a specific consumer type that publishers can identify, build for, and activate differently,” Nicholas Quah writes on the report’s findings (Nieman Lab)


The EU announced its plan to fight misinformation online — and it’s asking experts for help (Poynter)
On Monday, the European Commission announced its new plan to fight misinformation and fake news online, including the creation of “a high-level expert group” to help the EU develop strategies in this area. This expert group will include journalists, academics, platforms and civil society organizations that will “advise the commission on the scope of misinformation and how to create recommendations based on stakeholders’ priorities,” Daniel Funke reports.


‘Your company’s Slack is probably sexist’: A deep dive into how gender influences workplace communication (Quartz@Work)
“Age, experience, and hierarchical position undoubtedly influence digital behavior. Does gender influence our office’s electronic communications?,” Leah Fessler asks. “When I began asking my colleagues, nearly every woman said yes. Overwhelmingly, men said no.” Fessler investigates how gender influences our communication at work, both in Slack and otherwise. Some have thought that digital communication would “flatten the playing field” between men and women in terms of communication at work, but Fessler finds that isn’t the case: “While incessant communication in digital spaces theoretically permits everyone to avoid interruptions and take as many turns as they like — Slack’s argument for the platform as a democratizing force — the reality isn’t so equitable. Publicly, on average, women don’t take as many turns as men, and their turns are more likely to be offering social support.”


A form of affirmative action helped Ivy League-educated white men at the New Republic, at the expense of women and people of color (The Atlantic)
“White men from fancy schools advanced quickly at The New Republic because that’s who the owner and editor in chief, Marty Peretz, liked surrounding himself with,” former New Republic managing editor Peter Beinart writes. Beinart says that while he was at the New Republic, there were barely any women or African-Americans on staff, while Peretz “felt a particular hostility to affirmative action.” Beinart explains the effect of this culture: “To ascend at TNR, you had to be a protégé of either Marty’s or Leon [Wieseltier]’s, or, at the very least, you had to be on decent terms with them. For men, that meant writing things they considered smart. For women, by contrast, mentorship was far trickier. Marty wasn’t an option. Leon was, but his mentorship often involved sexualization. If you accepted it, you gained a supporter but compromised yourself. If you spurned it, you became invisible to the magazine’s two most powerful men.”

+ “The issue facing journalism is not simply about preventing sexual harassment; it’s about also acknowledging that this behavior is often a part of a sexist and unequal work environment. Newsroom cultures need to change in ways that both stop sexual harassment and foster supportive work environments for women,” Katherine Goldstein writes on how the industry should respond to its sexual harassment problem (Nieman Lab); Rebecca Traister on how to think about the culprits in our own lives: “The truth is, the risk of exposure that makes us feel anxious about the well-being of our male friends and colleagues — the risk of being named and never recovering — is one of the only things that could ever force change. Because without real, genuine penalties on the line … Nothing. Will. Change.” (The Cut)


The editors who quit instead of laying off more journalists: ‘It seemed to be the best of a series of bad choices’ (Poynter)
As newsrooms get smaller, more editors are faced with tough decisions about layoffs — and we’re hearing more stories about editors who choose to quit instead of laying off more journalists. Kristen Hare talks to some of these editors about why they made those decisions. “I do believe that no newspaper has ever cut their way to profitability,” former OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano, who is looking for a new job after quitting last month, says. “Maybe I’m a coward because I did not want to see my paper through really crippling cuts.”

+ The AP has a new Instagram account that shows AP reporters in the field: “At a time when we’re all talking about trust and truth in journalism, @reportersreporting demonstrates what challenging, credible news reporting looks like,” social media editor Eric Carvin says (The Definitive Source)

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