Need to Know: Dec. 4, 2019

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


You might have heard: Revenues from podcast advertising are projected to hit $1 billion by 2021 (AdAge)

But did you know: News podcasts rapidly multiplying as listeners embrace audio (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)

As podcasts come into their own, with an estimated 90 million Americans consuming the media each month, thousands of news shows are flooding the increasingly competitive market. News podcasts make up just 6 percent of the shows on Apple Podcasts, but from January to October this year, more than 12,000 news podcasts emerged from around the world, according to data from Chartable. At the same time, podcasts are creating significant revenue for some media outlets, including Slate, which derives half of its total revenue from podcasts alone. Times and Sunday Times Managing Director Chris Duncan noted that consumers are building audio into their daily routines, saying, “It feels like a positive opportunity but also it’s a threat for attention – so it’s a place that we have to be.”

+ Noted: Disability action groups call for better representation in media and advertising (The Drum); Bloomberg rebrands TicToc, says it’s not because of TikTok (Adweek); Hearst created a site to dissuade its employees from unionizing (Vice); Barstool Sports tops 30k paying subscribers (Digiday)


Trust Tip: Use newsletter A/B testing to test trust strategies (Trusting News)

Newsletters are one opportunity to gauge opinions about your product, and Joy Mayer writes that testing responses from different segments of your audience is pretty simple. Here is what PolitiFact learned when the organization experimented with the language surrounding its donate button and providing additional information on its process. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


With over 10,000 paying subscribers, Stat News focuses on diversification (Digiday)

This year, the health care publication Stat News launched several initiatives geared to diversify its revenue, including a full-length documentary and an event called the Stat Health Summit. One of Stat’s new products, which launched in the fall, involves in-depth reports that each cost about $500 or more, and in another program, consumers pay $500 to participate in a year’s worth of conference calls with Stat reporters and researchers. Chief revenue officer Angus Macaulay said these efforts and its branded content could amount to as much as 10 percent of the publication’s revenue next year. 


Responsible reporting on disinformation: Lessons from the UK election so far (First Draft)

Writing on misinformation is a double-edged sword, as journalists risk unintentionally amplifying the falsehoods they are attempting to debunk. To guide its coverage, First Draft identifies a “tipping point” when the potential harm of covering a hoax is outweighed by the benefits. For instance, the moment when misinformation grows beyond the community where it started can be a tipping point. Other things to consider while deciding whether or not to write about misinformation are if the content has spread across multiple platforms, if a prominent figure has addressed or spread the content and if it has appeared in large media outlets.

+ Putin approves a law labeling journalists ‘foreign agents’ in Russia (NPR); Channel 4 cleared of bias for replacing Prime Minister Boris Johnson with ice block during a debate


Facebook just killed a misleading election ad. Here’s why (CNN)

In September, Facebook said that the company wouldn’t fact-check political ads, but an election ad from the UK’s Conservative Party found a loophole to that policy. During the weekend, Facebook banned the ad, which shows footage of BBC journalists making comments like “pointless delay to Brexit,” juxtaposed with footage of protests and parliamentary debates. The journalists were actually quoting politicians, making the video misleading, but according to Facebook, the ad was removed because it violated the platform’s intellectual property policy.


Impeachment polls and the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy (Columbia Journalism Review)

Amid the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report yesterday, Jon Allsop writes that polls are playing too large a role in impeachment coverage. Recent polls suggested televised hearings didn’t substantially increase support for removing Trump from office, but Allsop believes journalists over-rely on these metrics, writing: “It’s not the news media’s job to persuade people to back impeachment, but leaning too heavily on polls risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we repeatedly tell people they’re unconvinced, aren’t they more likely to be unconvinced?”


Journalist’s Resource publishes graphic guide to the 2020 census (Journalist’s Resource)

Leading up to the census next year, Journalist’s Resource published a nifty graphic that explains key issues that reporters can use to guide future coverage. The census plays a big part in determining federal funding for programs and how seats in the House of Representatives are broken down among states, so getting accurate counts is vital. For the first time, the census will be broadly available online, and about 65 percent of households are expected to complete the online version of the questionnaire.