Need to Know: April 15, 2021


You might have heard: Rival group makes fully financed, roughly $680 million bid for Tribune, throwing uncertainty on the takeover deal Tribune already struck with Alden Global Capital (Wall Street Journal)

But did you know: Even under current management, Tribune Publishing’s news capacity is shrinking fast (Poynter)

All eyes are on the battle over who will be Tribune’s next owner, with hedge fund Alden Global Capital attempting to fend off a rival bid from two billionaires, but many are overlooking the damage that has been done to the company’s newsrooms in the meantime, writes Rick Edmonds. Since Alden acquired a 32% share of stock in November 2019, the NewsGuild calculates that total Tribune staff fell 30% in one year. Newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and the Hartford Courant have seen their newsrooms shrink by 32% and 30%, respectively, and several others have lost editors and reporters who cover specific regions or beats like sports, business, politics or state news.

+ Noted: Substack announces Substack Local, a program to fund 30 independent writers as they build local news publications based on the subscription model (Substack)


Tackling misinformation: A webinar on lessons from 2020 for 2021

From the pandemic to the election, 2020 was rife with false claims and distorted narratives. How can newsrooms make the best use of their resources to respond to misinformation moving forward? This Friday at noon ET, API and the News Leaders Association will host a discussion with journalists from the Detroit Free Press, Black Girl Media, Documented and Associated Press to share tools and strategies for covering misinformation. Learn more and register.

+ Related: How five news outlets responded to misinformation during the 2020 election and how that will shape their reporting in the future.


How to engage the under-35s (Twipe)

A lot of publishers have had success attracting people under 35 not just by showing up on their preferred social platforms — TikTok, Snapchat and Clubhouse, to name a few — but by adapting their content to fit the lighter tone often used there. Much has already been said about The Washington Post’s TikTok account, which often pokes fun at the news of the day, and the Post is still one of the leading publishers on the platform. The Economist, meanwhile, has fully embraced Snapchat, which it uses to do “daily dives” into complex news stories. According to Snapchat Editor Lucy Rohr, “Snapchat Discover has led to the single biggest step change in our readership since we were founded in 1843 — it’s extremely exciting for us to be put in front of an audience this age.”


With matrimonial ads and shoutouts, Lokal is finding new revenue in staples of Indian media (Nieman Lab)

In communities across India, residents will often take out newspaper ads or purchase billboard space to share personal milestones or well-wishes for friends and family members, or to signal their search for a business partner or spouse. Now Lokal, a hyperlocal news app that is used in four states in India, is beginning to monetize those services for users — and finding it quite a dependable revenue stream, earning the company $60,000 in March. “Indian communities are very different from any other community in the world. We love to brag!” tweeted Lokal co-founder Jani Pasha in March, explaining why the paid shoutouts were quickly proving popular with users.

+ Mexico’s Televisa and Univision will merge, forming Spanish-language media powerhouse (Hollywood Reporter)


How free trials trick us into thinking we’ll get something for nothing (Vox)

Free trials entice customers, who may then find themselves caught in complicated or unclear cancellation processes when they decide they don’t want to pay for a product or service. (Newspapers are especially guilty of this.) Marketers know that “People like free things, sometimes to the point of irrationality,” writes Emily Stewart. Instead of deciding to buy something, customers must remember to quit — a set-up that has exploded along with internet marketing. But consumers are increasingly calling out scammy tactics like making free trials and subscriptions difficult to cancel — the Better Business Bureau says that between 2017 and 2019 it received more than 58,400 complaints about free trials in the U.S. and Canada. The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, maintains a series of recommendations for consumers on how to approach free trials.


How can we create a journalism that reaches out beyond elites? (Reuters Institute)

Journalism — particularly national media — has long been dominated by “elites” who skew wealthier, more educated, whiter and more liberal than the country at large. The issue of intense polarization cannot be addressed without addressing the class issue within journalism, says Nikki Usher, author of the book “News for the Rich, White and Blue.” Usher says that the “news avoidance” phenomenon — in which large numbers of people are turning away from the news — can be traced in part to the fact that journalism isn’t helping audiences address problems in their life. “If you’re fighting all day just to make it through the day, the last thing that you care to do is turn to news that’s going to tell you about the terrible things in your universe,” Usher said in a recent podcast episode with the Reuters Institute.

+ Why failing to report on solutions reflects a position of privilege and neglects entire communities (The Whole Story, Solutions Journalism Network); Paid internships and recruiting from community colleges are two ways journalism can address its class problem (Poynter)


A new media outlet hopes to attract entrepreneurial-minded journalists (Axios)

Three digital media veterans from podcast company Luminary, The New York Times and The Athletic are launching a paid subscription media company with a (somewhat) new approach: Hire seasoned journalists and give the marketing and technology support needed to continue building their audiences across different platforms, like newsletters and live events. The company will “bundle journalists and resources, just like a traditional newsroom, but empower them to create more multi-channel content,” reports Sara Fischer. The approach is notable considering many traditional news outlets don’t help their journalists build skills and audiences across multiple mediums.

+ Related: Former Condé Nast editor plans a Vanity Fair for the Substack era (The New York Times)