Need to Know: August 12, 2019

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: GateHouse, Gannett to merge for $1.4B, build newspaper giant (Associated Press)

But did you know: Will stockholders approve the merger between GateHouse owner and Gannett? (USA Today)

Before GateHouse’s acquisition of Gannett can go through, the deal has to get the go-ahead from shareholders. MNG Enterprises, better known as Digital First Media, acquired a 9.4 percent stake last week in New Media Investment Group, which owns GateHouse. After becoming one of New Media’s top shareholders, MNG said in SEC filings on Friday that it may vote or campaign against the merger. MNG, which is controlled by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, attempted a hostile takeover of Gannett earlier this year and owns a 4.2 percent stake in Gannett, as well.

+ Noted: Some publishers are making more money from Apple News (Digiday); Google Search will now show you podcast episodes (but it won’t have to link back to Google Podcasts) (Nieman Lab); iHeartMedia will start airing its own podcasts on over 200 of its radio stations every Sunday (The Verge)

TRY THIS AT HOME

This project is giving local newsrooms a big resource boost (Poynter)

One sunny development for local newsrooms are programs that give papers the resources to put another reporter to work, with prominent examples that include Report for America and ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. With $5 million from the Facebook Journalism Project, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting launched a program, called Bringing Stories Home, that typically gives newsrooms $20,000 to $22,000 for editorial work and community outreach. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel used its funding from the program to dig into Wisconsin’s dairy industry, allowing the team to expand the scope of the story.

OFFSHORE

Times and Sunday Times pass 300,000 paid digital-only subscribers (Press Gazette)

This year has been the most successful in terms of digital subscriptions for News UK, which owns The Times and Sunday Times. First launched in 2010, digital subscriptions at the papers have now reached a combined 304,000. That is a 19 percent increase from last year, when News UK’s digital subscriptions began to outpace print for the first time. News UK has seen related success with AI software that creates newsletters based on readers’ interests, an approach that the company has said cut subscription cancellations in half.

+ Guardian worker who stole £138k to fund wedding is jailed for 20 months (Evening Standard)

OFFBEAT

To win support for your idea, think like a marketer (Harvard Business Review)

Citing research that suggests consumer decisions are largely based on subconscious connections to brands, Leslie Zane recommends ways to build your brand at work before you make a project pitch. Well before making a formal pitch or presentation, “plant the seeds” of the idea with managers and build layers of positive associations with the project. Generate buzz with office “influencers” from different roles in the organization, and think about the language you use to describe your project. Cues and references that resonate with your managers will lead them to have more positive associations with the idea, as well.

UP FOR DEBATE

The media erased Latinos from the story (The Atlantic)

After last week’s shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead, Lulu Garcia-Navarro writes that “the media failed Latinos in America during what was perhaps our darkest hour in my lifetime.” Garcia-Navarro, the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, points out that although the shooting was the deadliest attack against Latinos in recent history, coverage of the incident focused on President Donald Trump instead. In context of the persistent lack of diversity at “elite” media organizations, she writes: “News organizations failed after El Paso because, for years, we’ve marginalized voices of Latinos in our coverage—and in our own newsrooms. When words such as infestation are used by the powerful to describe immigrants and the media fail to treat that as a major story, it brings that absence into sharp focus.”

+ A freelance reporter wrote that she was fired by NPR after becoming a target of Fox News host Tucker Carlson (Columbia Journalism Review)

SHAREABLE

46% of U.S. social media users say they are ‘worn out’ by political posts and discussions (Pew Research Center)

Almost half of adults who use social media report feeling “worn out” by political posts and discussions on social platforms, according to a Pew Research Center survey from June. In another finding, 68 percent of those surveyed say talking about politics on social media with people they disagree with is stressful and frustrating, up from 59 percent in 2016. This research follows a spring report from Pew that found 85 percent of those surveyed believe political debate in the U.S. has become more negative during the last several years.