Need to Know: April 2, 2019

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


You might have heardNew York Times CEO warns publishers against Apple News ahead of launch (Reuters)

But did you know: Apple News+ could lead to a massive value destruction for the magazine industry (Monday Note)

Apple’s digital kiosk is a terrible deal for the news industry, writes Frederic Filloux. He calculates that by joining Apple News+, the U.S. magazine industry will lose 50 percent of its revenue per reader. Some individual publishers could lose close to 90 percent of their subscription revenue if Apple distributes their cut based on users’ reading time. “Regardless of the distribution, it is a miserable zero-sum game  —  or rather a $59 a year lousy game  —  for the publishers,” says Filloux. He waves aside the “it’s just another channel” justification many publishers have used: “It could make sense if the publisher were able to retain the relationship with the customer. For obvious reasons, that won’t be the case in the Apple News+ ecosystem. Apple will own the relationship. Publishers who will lose three-quarters of their revenue by joining Apple News+, won’t be able to develop or upsell anything directly to their customers, based on their profile, propensity to pay, etc.”

+ Related: “Are we at a party or a wake?” Journalists wonder if Apple News+ is a Trojan horse (Variety)

+ Noted: Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook may pay publishers to put their content in a dedicated news section (Recode); The Cleveland Plain Dealer lays off a third of unionized newsroom staff (Cleveland Plain Dealer); Not a delayed April Fool’s trick: It’s International Fact-Checking Day, and the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network will “coordinate activities and amplify resources that empower global citizens of all ages to sort fact from fiction” (Poynter)


How to use analytics to identify and build a popular new beat (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Virginian-Pilot used data to find a new beat topic to reach new audiences. Now, the beat is consistently one of the highest-performing in the newsroom. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.

+ Related: API’s Metrics for News program can help your newsroom use its data to deepen audience engagement and drive subscriptions


News reporting isn’t enough — building trust with audiences requires conversation too (Medium, Adam Smith)

New research suggests that even-handed reporting alone won’t win audiences’ trust — there needs to be some interaction between journalists and readers too. In a study published in the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, three groups of participants were shown different online content and later asked to assess the trustworthiness of the authors. The first group was shown a thread of uncivil discussion on social media; the second group was shown a thread of polite discussion; and the third saw news excerpts with no conversation around them. The middle group, who saw civil interactions similar to what readers may see in some publishers’ Facebook Groups (if they’re well moderated) became significantly more trusting of the authors. “If we are committed to promoting a civil mode of discussion and in building trust with our audiences, quality journalism will only get us so far,” writes Adam Smith. “We need to do civil conversation too.”

+ Related: How to bring civility back to your comment section (Trusting News)

+ 33 news outlets with dedicated solutions journalism sections (Solutions Journalism Network)


The Financial Times reaches 1 million paying subscribers (Press Gazette)

The Financial Times has reached a paying readership of 1 million in a new record for the newsbrand that it says has come a year ahead of schedule and on the back of a “strong business performance.” The FT first introduced a paywall in 2002, moving to a metered access model five years later, which offered some content for free to registered users, before introducing its current model in 2015, which offers readers a four-week trial at £1 before asking them to subscribe. Digital subscriptions now account for more than three-quarters of the FT’s circulation, it has said, but the print newspaper “continues to be profitable.” Management account figures shared with staff on Friday are said to have shown the FT Group recorded operating revenues totalling £383m last year and operating profits of £25m.

+ Earlier: Launching a paywall is easy. What the FT has done, pivoting its entire business to focus on reader revenue instead of advertising, is not. Here’s what it takes.


How we hang out at work together online now (New York Times)

Instagram is for vacations. Facebook is for families. And the new(ish) video app TikTok is apparently for bringing our friends and followers inside the mundanity of our work lives, writes John Hermann. “TikTok, which encourages users to contribute short videos to hashtags, or to join in on jokes or challenges or to sing along with clips of songs, has … become an unlikely force for labor visibility.” While TikTok does have familiar features, like profiles and followers, it relies more heavily than other social platforms on algorithmic recommendations and featured songs, categories and hashtags. This makes it easy to browse an enormous catalog of jobs as represented by the people who do them: #scrublife will take you inside hospitals; #cheflife, into kitchens; #forgelife, into the world of superheated steel; #farmlife, to the fields. There are hashtags that are widely applicable to employed people, like #coworkers, #working, #bluecollar and #lovemyjob.


Reporters continue to cover Parkland closely — but at what cost? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Like many Parkland residents, who are still dealing with the tragic aftermath of last year’s school shooting, local reporters have grown exhausted by continuing to cover the event like a breaking news story. “Can you call our news directors? Because we don’t want to cover this either,” BuzzFeed reporter Amber Jamieson remembered one of them saying at a recent press conference. Jamieson said she has heard over and over again how the media presence that still exists outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is triggering for the student and teacher survivors of the shooting. The pushback from the community against local media illustrates the tenuous balance reporters must strike in covering this or any other tragedy. The best thing reporters in this situation can do is to practice empathy, says Jamieson: Spend more time than you otherwise would interviewing a survivor, and understand that reporting on tragedy is more than finding a good soundbite and disappearing, story in hand.


The University of Southern California’s Crosstown project turns big data into local news (Local News Initiative)

Gabriel Kahn, a professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, says his data project Crosstown delivers “the kind of information that allows citizens to be the squeaky wheel.” Crosstown’s goal is to break down data on “core quality-of-life issues,” such as traffic, crime and air quality, so that it’s useful on a local and even hyperlocal level for both the general public and community media outlets that don’t have the wherewithal to do such number-crunching themselves. “We see the other local media using this data to bring more narrative and texture to these stories, and we see the individual citizen as being able to use this and essentially take a thermometer reading of their neighborhood on a regular basis,” Kahn said.

+ Months before The New Yorker published allegations of sexual harassment against CBS News’ Jeff Fager, the Washington Post had the story but didn’t publish it. What was the Post afraid of? (New York Magazine)