Need to Know: Oct. 26, 2017

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


You might have heard: Research from API finds 53 percent of adults pay for news, including subscribing to newspapers or magazines, paying for news apps, or donating to public media

But did you know: Print-native outlets are having more success with digital subscriptions than digital-native or broadcast outlets, a new report from Digital Content Next finds (Wall Street Journal)
“As Google and Facebook gobble up an ever-larger share of the digital advertising pie, subscriptions and other paid content offerings have been pitched as an antidote for publishers’ financial woes,” Benjamin Mullin writes. But a new report from Digital Content Next suggests that not all publishers are sharing in that equally: Surveying 20 publishers, DCN found that digital content subscription revenue made up one-quarter of the publishers’ total revenue on average. Half of the publishers surveyed are not making a “significant investment” in digital subscriptions or other forms of paid content. The report identifies some reasons that publishers may be hesitant to adopt subscription models: Some are afraid they’ll compete with their existing digital ad business, diverting resources from digital advertising into subscriptions.

+ Noted: The USA Today Network is testing memberships at its local papers: Members are offered “exclusive content and local deals” and are part of Gannett’s larger goal to increase consumer revenue (Digiday); Bill O’Reilly is negotiating for a position at Sinclair Broadcasting Group: NBC News reports that they’re “about midway” through negotiations, and Sinclair is considering putting O’Reilly on its local stations (NBC News); After a policy change that bans material that “encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people,” Reddit is shutting down at least 10 Nazi and white supremacist-related subreddits (The Verge); PBS’ “Frontline” is taking on transparency in a new way in its latest documentary, “Putin’s Revenge”: “Frontline” is publishing all of the interviews it conducted for the documentary online, making the videos and transcripts searchable (Poynter)


Is there such thing as engaging with your readers too much? (Severe Contest)
The Economist’s Adam Smith asks: “If a stranger approached you in the street and told you something you didn’t know, would you trust them?” That’s a fundamental question newsrooms are facing, Smith writes, when it comes to building new audiences online. Smith argues that publishers actually face a risk of engaging with readers too much: “[Readers] want us to challenge and inform them; we cannot do that if we are forever reacting to what they are saying, publishing stories based on what they are consuming, and listening in to the ensuing discussion,” Smith explains.


The BBC apologizes for its interview with a climate change denier, saying it should have pushed back more on his claims (Guardian)
The BBC issued an apology this week for its interview with Lord Lawson, a climate change denier. In the interview, Lawson claims that global temperatures have not risen in the past decade. The BBC said that these statements “were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged.” Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, argues: “As well as taking account of the rights of marginal voices like Lord Lawson to be heard, the BBC should also take account of the harm that its audiences can experience from the broadcast of inaccurate information. His inaccurate assertion that there has been no change in extreme weather was harmful to the program’s listeners.”


‘Make it unthinkable for anyone to judge a woman at work on anything besides her talent and aptitude’ (Forbes)
“It’s time to slap down bad behavior when you see it and ostracize the offenders in the same way racist jokes find smaller and disapproving audiences in the workplace,” Vanessa McGrady writes on men’s role in supporting women who have experienced sexual harassment. “Take complaints seriously. Believe, unflinchingly and sincerely, the women who tell you their stories, whether you’re in a position to change anything or not. Make it unthinkable for anyone to judge a woman at work on anything besides her talent and aptitude.”

+ A study from Harvard Business Review finds that there’s no “perceptible differences” between the behavior of men and women at work, but women still are not advancing at the rate that men are (Harvard Business Review)


A local NPR reporter’s response to Ken Stern’s charge that NPR is in a liberal bubble: NPR reporters live and work in conservative communities, and cover the communities in nuanced ways (Current)
On Saturday, former NPR CEO Ken Stern argued in the New York Post that most reporters are living in a liberal bubble, an argument he makes based on his own experience at NPR. Brian Mann, a staff reporter for North Country Public Radio, refutes Stern’s argument: “NPR and public radio writ large have the largest team of journalists and media professionals active in rural conservative areas of any media network in America. From Alaska to Colorado to Maine, Texas and upstate New York, our station reporters live and work here,” Mann writes. “Many of my colleagues at NPR are deeply knowledgeable about these communities. So am I. We grew up in these places. We went (and some of us still go) to these churches. We shop in these Piggly Wigglies and these Dollar Generals. And when we pitch complex, nuanced stories about conservative and traditional American culture, those stories are accepted, edited with care and broadcast prominently.”


How has the shift to digital changed your workday? (Poynter)
For industry veterans, part of the shift to digital has likely meant adjusting their working hours. But for some younger journalists, “this whole 24/7 thing is just the way it’s always been,” Daily Tar Heel editor in chief and UNC senior Tyler Fleming says. In this week’s Local Edition, Poynter’s Kristen Hare talks to Fleming and Mississippi Today news editor Ryan Nave about how digital production structures their workdays. “I think what a lot of us have had to train ourselves out of is the idea that publishing a story on a website is the end-all and be-all of what we do,” Nave explains on how he’s changed his own thinking. “It used to be that I would get the daily newspaper in the morning or read it online to figure out what the big conversations were. Now it’s just my Mississippi media Tweetdeck channel that’s driving a lot of that.”