Need to Know: August 13, 2019

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


You might have heard: and News Revenue Hub devise a toolkit for local newsrooms (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Verizon agrees to sell Tumblr to owner of WordPress (Axios)

Verizon, which acquired Tumblr just two years ago, is selling the unprofitable social media platform to Automattic Inc. for less than $20 million. Tumblr’s purchase by Automattic, which owns WordPress, follows Yahoo’s purchase of the blogging platform in 2013 for $1.1 billion, which preceded Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo. A ghost of social media past, Tumblr used to be among the most popular platforms and still hosts more than 450 million blogs. Automattic plans to take on Tumblr’s 200 employees and maintain the company’s ban on explicit content, which caused the platform’s traffic to drop by a third.

+ Noted: Ringer editorial staffers announce a union (The Big Lead); How The Wall Street Journal is building an incubator into its newsroom, with new departments and plenty of hires (Nieman Lab); Journalists need more help than ever coping with work trauma (Columbia Journalism Review)


API staffer elected to AAJA Governing Board (AAJA)

Shirley Qiu, API’s audience engagement strategist and co-director of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Women and Non-Binary Voices group, was elected to serve a two-year term as AAJA’s vice president of communications starting in 2020. At AAJA’s most recent convention, Qiu co-presented a session on analytics and engagement. Before joining API, she served as features producer for The Seattle Times.


To increase retention, The Financial Times is using newsletter polls (Digiday)

The use of newsletters to engage readers has reached near ubiquity, but media organizations are still finding ways to experiment with the genre. Since March, The Financial Times has run 27 polls in its newsletter, FirstFT, with the goal to increase readers’ interactions with content, as well as subscriber retention. The day after each poll runs, FirstFT runs the results. According to Financial Times, the yes-or-no poll questions have higher click-through rates than other links in the newsletter, meeting a part of the publication’s goal to increase consumption of newsletter content and improve open rates.


You must be this conservative to ride: The inside story of Postmedia’s right turn (Canadaland)

Drawing from interviews with more than 40 current and former employees, Canadaland reported that Postmedia, the largest newspaper chain in Canada, has pressured its publications to run more conservative content. Previously, company brass chided editors for content deemed “anti-conservative” and used its papers to make political endorsements without local input. Canadaland wrote that these directives intensified last year, when President Andrew MacLeod told editors for Postmedia’s flagship newspaper, the National Post, that the publication wasn’t conservative enough. According to the report, employees expressed concerns that mandates for “reliably conservative” content will overtake local political views in Postmedia’s markets.

+ Guccifer Rising? Months-long phishing campaign on ProtonMail targets dozens of Russia-focused journalists and NGOs (Bellingcat)


How marketers can create more comprehensively inclusive strategies (Adweek)

Few people recognize themselves in advertisements, and research shows that Americans crave marketing strategies that embrace diversity, with one recent study finding that eight in 10 people surveyed want to see diverse families in marketing content. In other research, more than four in 10 millennial parents are more likely to select brands that include diversity in their messaging. In one campaign to increase the diversity of representation in ads, Dove’s Project #ShowUS is compiling thousands of images of women from different backgrounds. Gillette also has received attention for its ad with a father showing his transgender son how to shave for the first time.


Epstein suicide conspiracies show how our information system is poisoned (The New York Times)

Charlie Warzel writes that divergent responses to Jeffrey Epstein’s death over the weekend “marked a new chapter in our post-truth, ‘choose your own reality’ crisis story.” Shortly after news broke of Epstein’s apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail, dueling conspiracy theories hit Twitter, as social media pundits blamed either the Clintons or Trump for the death. Warzel writes that these hashtags are a sign of our toxic information ecosystem, which “has ushered in a parallel reality unrooted in fact and helped to push conspiratorial thinking into the cultural mainstream. And with each news cycle, the system grows more efficient, entrenching its opposing camps.”

+ Related: Journalists should examine the leading cause of jail deaths, in light of Jeffrey Epstein (Poynter)

+ “The Gannett/GateHouse deal is even more depressing than I imagined” (Aron Pilhofer)


Sounding like a reporter — and a real person, too (National Public Radio)

Stereotypical public radio voices are the subject of infamous parodies, and Liana Van Nostrand writes that when reporters go against the grain of listeners’ expectations, complaints ensue. But those most likely to depart from that stereotype are women and reporters of color, who Van Nostrand writes are the subject of most complaints that the NPR public editor receives regarding broadcasters’ voices. “Aural homogeneity discourages listeners and future radio-makers who don’t fit the mold,” she concludes. “It sends the message that only some people can be trusted to report the news.”