Need to Know: August 22, 2019

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


You might have heard: Solutions journalism has been shown to increase audience engagement (Center for Media Engagement)

But did you know: Solutions journalism should hit these five points to be truly impactful (Center for Media Engagement)

Solutions journalism that incorporates five critical elements — problem, solution, implementation, results and insights — performs better with audiences than solutions journalism that doesn’t include all elements, according to a new study from the Center for Media Engagement. “When it comes to solutions journalism, the more information you can provide readers, the better,” researchers wrote. “Adding additional components beyond the problem and the solution (i.e. implementation, results, and insights) can bolster positive responses to your work.” The study also found that solutions pieces with all five elements inspired heightened interest in the issue and greater willingness to read future articles about it; suggesting that the five elements are especially important when trying to attract loyal readers to a reporting series.

+ Noted: Publishers anticipate revenue decline as Apple tightens anti-tracking policies (Digiday); The Associated Press plans to study push alerts and how to make them more useful for audiences and publishers (Reynolds Journalism Institute); Congressman Devin Nunes serves McClatchy with lawsuit four months after announcing complaint (Fresno Bee); Ethan Zuckerberg, director of the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media, resigned in protest over lab’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein (Boston Globe); Alaska public broadcasters lose state funding (Current)


See best practices for serving targeted audiences  

We scour the web for the best advice on how to tackle common newsroom challenges. Then we put that content all in one place on Get advice on creating targeted content for audiences, or quickly navigate to another area you need help in.


How to keep your sanity as you dismantle the status quo in newsrooms (Poynter)

As newsrooms increasingly rely on “bridge roles” like product managers and engagement editors to drive innovative new products and ways of working, the people in these roles are essentially being tasked to drive organizational change, writes Becca Aaronson. That’s why it’s critical for product managers to be able to prioritize competing demands and say “no” to projects that aren’t worth the time and effort. Aaronson uses an “Effort vs. Impact” matrix to help her settle the question, How much effort will it take to pursue this idea versus how much impact will it have toward my goals? “Low effort, high impact work translates to quick wins. Meanwhile, high effort, low impact work usually isn’t worth doing.” 

+ Related: Check out Aaronson’s ONA19 session, “We Built a Product Team in One Year: Here’s Everything We Learned” (ONA)


The Telegraph is growing its subscriber base with WhatsApp audio briefings (

The Telegraph uses WhatsApp to deliver two-minute “radio bulletin-style” briefings to commuters at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each day, followed by a text message with links to the articles. According to commuter editions editor Danny Boyle, users who sign up for the briefings are 12 times more likely to become paid subscribers than an average reader on the homepage, and people who follow the link to articles go on to read double the number of articles compared to an average reader. The low-production updates help The Telegraph compete with increasing demands on consumer attention, said Boyle. “We’re no longer just competing with The Metro in the morning. These people are just as likely to be playing Candy Crush or checking Facebook Messenger.”

+ Australia’s major publishers will no longer publicly report their circulations (GX Press)


Channeling the untapped power of elderly consumers (MIT Technology Review)

In cities across the U.S., groups of elderly consumers are meeting to discuss challenges related to their demographic and how technologists and product developers might tackle them. The feedback from these meetings is channeled back to companies and gives the target audience more influence, says Richard Caro, a former Silicon Valley investor who launched the “Longevity Explorer” groups. Meetings go like this: Members start by writing down topics they want to cover (like hearing aids) on sticky notes and passing them to the facilitator, who cycles through those suggestions before introducing a discussion topic. The meetings have not only helped those designing for older audiences break through their stereotypes around the demographic, it’s helped participants “feel in control of their destiny,” says Caro. 


Can TikTok save journalism? The Washington Post is set to find out (

Although TikTok has surged in popularity in recent months (it has close to 27 million users in the U.S. alone), news organizations have been hesitant to jump onboard with the mobile video app. One standout exception is The Washington Post, which uses the platform to publish behind-the-scenes clips of working in the newsroom, funny takes on trending memes and other lighter angles on news topics. Dave Jorgenson, the mastermind behind the Post’s TikTok content, says it’s helped the newsroom engage younger audiences — especially those thinking of becoming journalists. “They see us as something that’s relatable and something to look forward to once they are out in the real world reporting on the news, and I think that’s the greatest compliment.” 

+ “Skeptical about TikTok saving us but what ⁦@davejorgenson says is bloody true: ‘People on this app are the people of the future, whether you like it or not. From a business perspective, I don’t know why you would ignore that.’” (Twitter, @FraZaffarano)


How national outlets can support LION pubs (Twitter, @ScottBrodbeck) 

It’s a common gripe: National outlets often neglect to properly credit original reporting from smaller local newsrooms. But the underlying issue, says Scott Brodbeck, is that “National media reporters who love reminding everyone that local news in crisis are absolutely ignoring the … hundreds of grassroots local online news orgs sprouting up around the country, dismissing most of us as one offs.” Brodbeck mentioned a recent interview with Peter Kafka of Recode where Kafka dismissed local indie news sites as not looking like traditional newspapers. “ … fwiw these sites will not come out of the womb looking like the newspapers they’re replacing,” Brodbeck points out. “Please don’t dismiss small local efforts out of hand. Try to understand them and why they work in their communities.”