Need to Know: August 7, 2020


You might have heard: Ken Doctor called the coronavirus a “full extinction event” for some news publications (BuzzFeed) 

But did you know: Ken Doctor is starting a news outlet of his own in California (The New York Times)

After years as a media critic at Nieman Lab, Ken Doctor is starting his own local news company, Lookout Local. The company’s flagship site, Lookout Santa Cruz, will cover Doctor’s home county in California, which he calls a news desert. He will be competing with The Santa Cruz Sentinel, which is owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital. He plans to start the for-profit site in the fall with eight to 10 journalists, with funding from the Knight Foundation, the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and others.

+ Noted: South Carolina’s Post and Courier lays off journalists on the same day it launches two new newsrooms (Twitter, @jaspar, @dinfontay, @postandcourier); Digital revenue exceeds print for first time for New York Times (The New York Times Co.); Conde Nast mulls move out of 1 World Trade Center (New York Post); Salt Lake Tribune Editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce resigns over differences with board chair (The Salt Lake Tribune); “E! News” canceled after 29 years (New York Daily News); Bon Appétit names new executive editor as three stars of “Test Kitchen” exit (USA Today)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

How hoaxers use hypocrisy, TikTok to ban deepfakes and healthcare workers believing coronavirus misinformation. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


The Financial Times, The Atlantic and Bloomberg are focusing on virtual events and monetization (Digital Context Next)

Media companies around the world have switched from live to virtual events, and The Financial Times, The Atlantic and Bloomberg are among those focused on maintaining revenue through digital-only events. FT Live switched from in-person to online events in a matter of days in March, and quickly realized the potential to bring in huge swathes of people, registering 52,000 attendees for a three-day, 110-speaker Global Boardroom event focused on coronavirus. For the Atlantic, being able to pull in larger online numbers who stay engaged — maintaining a 75% average watch time for the audience — has appeal to their sponsors. Bloomberg has begun offering virtual events as a perk of its membership packages.

+ Related: How The Texas Tribune pivoted a flagship fundraising event to virtual (Facebook Journalism Project)

+ A Swiss news site is ensuring that reader contributions are not limited to comments beneath articles (SWI)


A Dutch public broadcaster got rid of targeted digital ads—and its revenues went way up (Wired)

After European data privacy laws went into effect in 2018, The Netherlands’ public broadcaster, NPO, interpreted the law very strictly. On NPO’s website, anyone who didn’t pro-actively opt-in to user tracking was presumed to have opted-out, the reverse of most websites. The results were surprising — ad revenue for non-targeted advertising was equal to or greater than the targeted ads. In the end, the site did away with advertising cookies entirely. When advertisers buy on NPO’s programmatic ad platform, they don’t buy based on user profiles, but on the content of the page where the ad will appear. NPO’s revenue has jumped largely because they’re not losing a chunk of their income to ad tech companies.


The workforce is about to change dramatically: Three predictions for what the future might look like (The Atlantic)

The pandemic has pushed millions of white collar employees into working from home, and studies indicate that tele-working is likely to become a more permanent part of many people’s lives. Derek Thompson makes three predictions for the future of work. One is that, with fewer people going into offices or travelling for work, entire industries — lunch-focused restaurants, business hotels, building security — will suffer dramatically. Another is that, with fewer interpersonal connections between employees, workers will be more likely to strike out on their own, as freelancers and entrepreneurs. The third is that a mass exodus out of major cities will change the political map forever.

+ Twitter to label state-controlled news accounts (BBC)


Can journalism be both impartial and empathetic? (Nieman Reports)

Last year, in the midst of protests and activist movements at universities across the U.S., student journalists were divided into two camps — those willing to give concessions to protestors, and those who stuck to traditional journalistic rules of objectivity. Now, with those same issues spreading to the journalism industry more broadly, a study from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University finds that, while there are marked differences between the two groups, both camps of journalists can agree on the importance of telling the truth, and both describe their roles as journalists as focusing on stories of regular people.


Building from the mission up: How one local newsroom’s focus on communities of color led to significant earned revenue growth (Institute for Nonprofit News)

Madison365, a news outlet dedicated to covering communities of color in Madison, Wisc., has brought in substantial financial support from local and national businesses. More than half of the organization’s revenue in 2019 came from a mix of event sponsorship, corporate packages and advertising. The outlet’s strategy has been to prioritize its mission of covering communities of color in all business dealings, create tailored packages for clients, and build relationships with clients and audiences.


+ People who engage with false news are hyper-concerned about truth. But they think it’s being hidden (Nieman Lab)

+ What you need to know about hedge funds — and their affinity for newspaper organizations (Poynter)

+ “When the heart gets filtered up through the camera”: Vietnam War photographers on how to cover COVID better (Columbia Journalism Review)