Need to Know: August 22, 2018

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


You might have heard: Americans’ online news use is closing in on TV news use (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Pew report finds that the audience for nearly every major sector of the U.S. news media fell in 2017 — with the only exception being radio (Pew Research Center)

In its annual “state of the news media” analysis, Pew Research Center found that audiences for newspapers, TV and digital-native news outlets declined in 2017. Radio was the only sector studied that did not decline. (It’s worth noting, however, that some of Pew’s data does not fully include digital audience for these sectors, despite the fact that audiences are increasingly getting their news online.) The audience for podcasting has grown over the past decade, with 17 percent of Americans 12 and older now listening to a podcast in the past week, although this figure includes all programming, not just news. The “post-election slump” for TV viewership explains audience declines for cable and local TV — but not network. Network TV’s decline is unusual, as its audience has held steady after election years. The report also found that digital advertising revenue continues to grow, but with 52 percent of it going to Google and Facebook, little of it benefits news organizations.

+ Noted: “Hey Google, tell me something good”: Solutions Journalism Network launches daily news briefing on Google Assistant (Medium, Solutions Journalism Network); Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1 (The Washington Post); Apple buys rights to series based on New York Times climate change article (The New York Times); Reporters Committee and Fund for Investigative Journalism announce partnership to offer legal support to independent journalists (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press); Death penalty reporter sues Missouri in bid to witness executions (Columbia Journalism Review)


API is hiring an Audience Engagement Strategist to help newsrooms use analytics to serve audiences

We are hiring an Audience Engagement Strategist to join our team that runs Metrics for News, an innovative custom program that helps publishers better understand their audiences and what drives engagement. This role would be part of a close-knit team and would involve helping our partner newsrooms use data to discover what, how and why audiences engage with their journalism. This job is well suited for someone who likes to learn about audiences and how to better serve them, dig into analytics to discover what works and what doesn’t, and train journalists on how to use data to inform editorial decisions, support business strategies and larger organizational goals.


7 next steps for #FreePress (Poynter)

After last Thursday’s collective action by more than 400 U.S. newspapers to defend press freedom, news organizations must now look ahead to next steps, write Melody Kramer and Betsy O’Donovan. Here’s what they lay out: define a shared goal for continuing this campaign; ensure that public service work is not hidden behind paywalls; seek allies from outside journalism and ask them to share the message; tell process stories about your journalism; and communicate the value of your reporting. “A lot of what we suggest … is common sense. Some of it is big, blue-sky thinking. But all of it is designed to rebuild a national belief that journalism is a public service, not Public Enemy No. 1.”

+ Journalist Katie Hawkins-Gaar created a website that connects women in journalism through free coaching sessions (Poynter) and she’s showing people exactly how she did it (Digital Women Leaders)


Facebook fueled anti-refugee attacks in Germany, new research suggests (The New York Times)

Altena, a small German town, exemplifies a phenomenon long suspected by researchers who study Facebook: that the platform, by algorithmically surfacing vitriolic speech, makes communities more prone to racial violence. Now, Altena is one of 3,000-plus data points in a landmark study that claims to prove it. The study shows that German towns where Facebook use was higher than average, like Altena, reliably experienced more attacks on refugees. That held true in virtually any sort of community — big city or small town; affluent or struggling; liberal haven or far-right stronghold — suggesting that the link applies universally. Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.


How a children’s hospital used listening and community-building to improve local health outcomes (Journalist’s Resource)

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, partnered with community organizations to address root causes of poor health outcomes in its local community, in a project that began in 2008 and is ongoing. Pediatrician Kelly Kelleher and his team started by reaching out to community members to determine their needs. Then they partnered with a community development organization, the mayor’s office, the Land Bank and others to outline and implement a housing stability program. The investment in housing has resulted in a decline in the neighborhood vacancy rate, an improved local real estate market, a decline in homicide rates (with zero reported in the neighborhood last year), and an increase in local high school graduation rates.


Will the merger of PRX and PRI shift the competitive landscape of public radio (and podcasting)? (Nieman Lab)

The merger between PRI and PRX, announced Wednesday, would combine the organizations’ respective expertise in linear broadcasting and on-demand audio, writes Nicholas Quah. The question is whether and how the two pieces will fit together neatly, and in a way that creates something more than the sum of its parts. Quah envisions a rising PRX, armed with significant new assets and multiplatform capacities from PRI, in better position to compete with NPR and American Public Media, which are much larger networks. In a Q&A with PRI CEO Alisa Miller and PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman, Miller said that the merger is not a directly competitive move, but one that will explore different and rising mediums, including broadcast, podcast, social, and in-person. “We’re all about producers finding their most engaged audiences, wherever they are.”

+ Hollywood movies and TV shows portray female journalists as unethical, perpetuating a stereotype that has persisted for decades (The Atlantic)


‘Some personal news to share: I’m not going anywhere’ (The News & Observer)

“You may have seen, on Facebook and Twitter, another wave of posts from sportswriters about why they’re joining The Athletic, the new subscription website … Let me tell you why I’m not,” sportswriter Luke DeCock writes in the News & Observer, where he is choosing to stay. The most important reason, DeCock cites, is “I still believe in newspapers and the absolutely essential role they play in the life of communities like the Triangle, a role a sports-focused website like The Athletic could never fill.” He goes on to ask readers to buy a subscription to support the paper. The responses on Twitter were enthusiastic.

+ A new report catalogs the breadth of data Google is collecting about consumers (Digital Content Next);  “If you use Google apps or an Android phone, this study will probably shock you” (Twitter, @nickconfessore); “Wildly misleading,” Google responds (Axios)