Need to Know: August 6, 2019

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


You might have heard: The GateHouse takeover of Gannett has been finalized (Poynter)

But did you know: How the merger could lead to more syndicated USA Today-style news stories and less local news (Washington Post)

According to the news release put out by Gannett, the merger will result in a $300 million reduction in annual overhead costs. That figure has many journalists worried about the possibility of lay-offs, particularly for editor roles. Some newsroom managers are predicting more USA Today-type stories that are produced or edited remotely in editorial “hubs” and published in dozens of the company’s publications. A memo sent to Gannett employees on Monday fueled the concerns, noting there will be “some duplication and overlap in roles.” Industry analysts say the consolidation tactics will likely be copied in future mergers (speculation is already pairing McClatchy and Tribune). “You need scale to transition to the digital future, and so cutting out costs through consolidation of facilities and distribution facilities is very important,” said Michael Kupinski, an analyst at Noble Financial. 

+ Noted: Knight Foundation invests $1.2 million in Maynard Institute’s new diversity, equity and inclusion transformation program (Knight Foundation); Hearst is building a self-serve platform that enables Facebook-style ad buying (AdExchanger); The Trump administration is considering limited encrypted messaging apps (Medium, Global Editors Network) 


What makes people pay for news

As part of the Media Insight Project, a joint effort between API and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, last year we conducted what may be the largest study ever undertaken of people who have recently subscribed to newspapers. See which “triggers” get people to subscribe, and why they stay subscribed.


Your audience isn’t a monolithic crowd, so avoid treating them like one (Atlantic 57)

The Atlantic divides its audience into four segments — passersby, occasionals, regulars and super fans — and creates different goals and tactics to increase loyalty and engagement for each segment. The strategy helps it go beyond page views as the only indicator of how its journalism is resonating with readers, and understand how different audience groups interact with content. “We want to make sure that we’re getting our journalism not only to a large audience but also to a large group of active, engaged readers, viewers, and listeners,” said Bryan Davis, The Atlantic’s director of audience development.  

+ Related: Go beyond page views and get a more comprehensive understanding of how your journalism is engaging audiences using API’s Metrics for News.


The scary trend of internet shutdowns (Poynter)

Around the world, governments are increasingly using internet shutdowns to quell unrest and suppress rumors and fake news, writes Daniela Flamini. But there is no empirical evidence that proves this tactic is effective, and activists and journalists alike have raised concerns over the catastrophic side effects shutdowns often have on communities. “The official justification given by governments and the impact (of these shutdowns) on the ground rarely match,” said Berhan Taye, who spearheads the #KeepItOn campaign. “The problem we have now is the speed at which [misinformation is] being shared… But when you cut people off from being able to access information, the only access they have is to previous misinformation.”


Why marketing is more than a cost-center (Digiday)

Marketing’s reputation as a cost center versus one that drives profits means that it is often the first to suffer the effects of cost-cutting. But in today’s business landscape — and particularly in media — marketing encompasses much more than traditional commercial work, writes Kristina Monllos. Marketing is responsible for the overall consumer experience of a brand as well as strengthening brand identity. “A great brand focuses on being relevant in peoples’ lives, proving value and providing a service or product that supports that,” said Dave Latcha, CEO and Founder of Latcha+Associates. “Two-thirds of that statement is marketing related.”  


New York Times changes headline on story about Trump’s gun violence speech after backlash (The Wrap)

The original page-one headline for today’s print paper read “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism” and was blasted by politicians, journalists and readers as failing to provide important context, such as Trump’s long history of comments about immigrants. “Problematic framing. Inaccurate. Non-contextual,” tweeted Soledad O’Brien. “Not sure ‘TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM’ is how I would have framed the story,” wrote FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver. The headline was changed last night to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”

+ To those saying they will cancel NYT subscriptions because of the headline: “The New York Times employs 1600 journalists who do indispensable work across the globe. The paper publishes millions and millions of words each year. Sometimes it makes mistakes. Also, President Trump would like you to cancel your subscriptions.” (Twitter, @JeffreyGoldberg)


Newsroom diversity efforts have failed. It’s time to take a structural approach (Medium, LaSharah Bunting)

Yesterday’s announcement that the Knight Foundation is investing $1.2 million in the Maynard Institute marks a shift in how diversity and inclusion is typically addressed in newsrooms. Common solutions like appointing a diversity committee or hiring more journalists of color often fail to address systemic issues, writes LaSharah Bunting, director of journalism at the Knight Foundation. With the Knight grant, the Maynard Institute will embed specialists in newsrooms, allowing Maynard to work closely with each newsroom to devise tailored strategies and training to help them reach diversity and inclusion goals.  

+ A great thread on common writing mistakes (Twitter, @laurahelmuth)