Need to Know: April 2, 2021


You might have heard: Newsletter-first media company 6AM City to expand nationally (PR Newswire)

But did you know: Looking for ways to rebound from COVID-19, cities are wooing newsletter platform 6AM City (AdWeek)

Newsletter company 6AM City has recently announced its ninth location — Richmond, Va. — as part of the company’s goal to double its scope in 2021. Goals for the year include expanding into 14 locations, gaining 350,000 more free newsletter subscribers and achieving profitability by the end of the year. This is partly due to the success of newsletter advertising, one of the few bright spots in digital ads. 6AM has positioned itself as a way for cities to attract new residents and encourages locals to spend locally, and the publisher has even attracted interest from cities who appreciate the focus it places on small businesses and local culture. Some cities, including Nashville, have provided financial incentives for 6AM to launch a local newsletter.

+ Earlier: What 6AM learned from creating its own company playbook (Medium, 6AM City)

+ Noted: Houston Chronicle Executive Editor Steve Riley to retire (The Houston Chronicle); Supreme Court allows FCC to move forward with loosening restrictions to media ownership in a single market (The Hollywood Reporter); Los Angeles Times owner says paper will announce its next top editor “soon” (CNN)  


Why the Philadelphia Inquirer is investing in service journalism

We spoke with Megan Griffith-Greene, service features editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, about why the Inquirer is expanding its service desk and how the desk has shaped reporting from across the newsroom. The two main goals for the desk, Griffith-Greene says, are creating stories that are both actionable and accessible. Actionable stories enable readers to make decisions based on the information they’re given; accessibility refers to making stories easy to read, understand and remember.


The COVID Tracking Project reflects on the decisions that informed its work (The COVID Tracking Project) 

In March of 2020, the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic began gathering, interpreting and publishing data on COVID-19. Now that the project has wrapped, managing editor Erin Kissane reflects on the choices the project team made over the past year. One was the decision to set limits. Many assumed that the project would expand to meet all data requests and include all information, including about vaccine rollout, but Kissane was focused on ensuring that her employees were not overwhelmed and overextended. In compiling mismatched data from different government organizations, they spent hours looking to clarify the meaning of data points to provide “comprehensively contextualized data.” And internally, the team focused on empathy, careful to build systems that encourage accuracy in their work without relying on shame or blame as a motivator. 

+ Related: How not to interpret COVID-19 data (The COVID Tracking Project)

+ The Knight Center’s new MOOC explains what journalists need to know about covering the COVID-19 vaccine (Knight Center)


What American publishers can learn about eEditions from European news outlets (Twipe) 

As American news outlets have diversified their digital offerings, one area that has been largely neglected is the newspaper eEdition. In Europe, these issue-focused editions are often cast as premium digital experiences, and they’ve been a successful component of many subscription campaigns. When the pandemic made producing and delivering printed newspapers more difficult, eEditions became even more popular; in Germany, 57% of newspaper readers between the ages of 14 and 29 now read ePapers. Packaging the digital paper as a single edition enhances the experience for readers looking for a premium reading experience, as it offers curation and structure that other online news does not.

+ To retain subscribers, The State in Columbia, S.C., sees the eEdition as a key product to increase loyalty (Better News)


Filmmakers call out PBS for a lack of diversity, over-reliance on Ken Burns (NPR) 

A letter signed by 140 documentarians has called on PBS to increase its support of nonwhite creators, accusing the public broadcaster of failing to uphold its “mandate for a diversity of voices.” The letter specifically calls out filmmaker Ken Burns, who has produced 211 hours of programming for PBS over 40 years and has an exclusive deal with the service through next year. The letter claims Burns’ arrangement is troubling for its “level of uninvestigated privilege,” both to other filmmakers and to taxpayers. The letter also asks for data from PBS on staff diversity, as well as numbers on airtime and funding for BIPOC creators. 


Insider trading indictment highlights close contact with Bloomberg reporter (The Washington Post) 

A recent federal indictment over insider trading documented several conversations between the accused and a financial reporter. The reporter, who was not named in court but appears to be Ed Hammond of Bloomberg, was not implicated in any illegal activity, but stories that he wrote appear to have helped the accused, Jason Peltz, use insider information for his own gain. The indictment highlights the uneasily close relationship between “deals” reporters, who are incentivized to write “market-moving” stories, and traders who may try to use journalists to further their own investment goals, either by pushing information that benefits them or trying to learn early information from reporters. 


Eight papers, eight women: The leaders of Ivy League journalism reflect on historic milestone (The Daily Princetonian)

Women hold the highest editorial positions at the newspapers of all eight Ivy League schools, a first in history. While the eight came into their respective papers in different positions — as reporters, opinion writers and copy editors — all say they decided to run for editor-in-chief with the goal of fostering diversity at their papers. Several said that, in their years as a student journalist, women were well-represented, but that racial discrimination was still an issue.


+ How to stop misinformation before it gets shared (Wired) 

+ Get to know the newsrooms focused on elevating Latinx voices in the U.S. (Nieman Reports) 

+ Inside Harpers, America’s most interesting magazine, and media’s oddest workplace (The New York Times) 

+ Shifting the focus of a newspaper’s opinion section from national to local can reduce political polarization (Nieman Lab)