Need to Know: December 3, 2018

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


You might have heard: Tribune Media pulls out of Sinclair deal as conservative broadcaster’s expansion plan collapses (Politico)

But did you know: Nexstar clinches $4.1 billion deal to acquire Tribune Media, sources say (Reuters)

Nexstar Media Group Inc has reached an agreement to acquire Tribune Media Co. for about $4.1 billion, a deal which would make it the largest local U.S. TV station operator, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday. Nexstar’s acquisition would come just three months after Tribune’s $3.9 billion deal to sell itself to Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc, currently the largest U.S. local TV station operator, collapsed over regulatory hurdles.

Related: The Tribune sale would come just as the FCC is about to meet Dec. 12 to “review broadcast ownership rules” (Poynter)

+ Noted: A high school newspaper was suspended for publishing an investigation into football players’ transfers (BuzzFeed News); Jamal Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killing (CNN); Philippines journalist Maria Ressa vows to challenge tax fraud charges after arrest (The Guardian)


How to advocate for yourself in the newsroom (The GroundTruth Project)

When there are disagreements in the newsroom, some young journalists lash out in a way that can be perceived as entitled, while others prefer to lower their heads and stay silent, but in doing so they are depriving their newsrooms of potentially useful ideas, and enabling a culture where hierarchy trumps feedback. Ultimately, they are doing a disservice to readers. “It’s important to … seek the mentorship from people who you know have the capacity to navigate a potentially perilous dynamic,” says Martin Reynolds, co-executive director of the Robert C.Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. “Self awareness is really critical in all this. Sometimes there’s the perception that millennials might be entitled, so you have to make sure your approach is cool and that you have a sense of where your strengths and your weaknesses lie.”

+ “There are local stories for months in this database”: partners with the Center for Cooperative Media to host a training for newsrooms who might want to use their police data (Twitter, @NJNewsCommons)


How Australia’s Junkee Media is growing with its changing readership (Splice)

In July 2013, as Australia was on the brink of electing its third prime minister in a year, two media veterans hatched a plan to “de-stupidify” the internet for the nation’s youth. Platforms such as BuzzFeed, they wagered, had a successful formula but underestimated young Aussies’ intelligence. “We wanted to treat the audience like they had brains,” says Tim Duggan, now-publisher at Junkee Media. “We launched it as a semi-side project, and then the audience suddenly blew up.” Junkee Media has invested heavily in carrying out research on the youth market and its evolution, surveying up to 30,000 people over nine years. The business commissions research firm Pollinate to test out its hypotheses on audiences and then uses the results to inform both content and commercial deals. While to some this may seem a costly and time-consuming exercise, for Duggan this background work has effectively given Junkee its reason for being. To be successful, he says, publishers should ensure they only target communities they can speak to authentically. “Then they must speak to them every day and continually re-adjust those assumptions because the readers you talked to five years ago may have changed.”

+ The Local, an independent news site founded in Sweden, gained 7,000 paying members in the past year after being free for its first 13 years (The Local)


How to tell your team that organizational change is coming (Harvard Business Review)

From time to time, every leader has to deliver news that is hard for employees to hear. Announcements like these can be daunting. And they go awry if they’re insufficiently planned or poorly delivered. As a leader, you should plan more time than you think is necessary to prepare the content, the delivery, and the necessary follow-up; and equip all levels of management to explain the context. The core message should clearly describe the organization’s pain, and how the new solution alleviates it. Give the affected people as many options and as much participation as you can, and demonstrate humility and responsibility, not just authority.


How TV news fumbles on climate change (WNYC Studios)

Last week, not long after the National Climate Assessment was released, a bulwark of highly paid climate deniers took to the big TV talk shows to discredit the scientists who put together the report. Lisa Hymas, director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters for America, tracked the egregious contradictions, distortions, and outright lies that were permitted on CNN, Fox News, and NBC. She discusses why the television networks have such a hard time booking actual scientists to discuss global warming, and the pernicious myths and omissions that continue to dog climate discourse.


The patrician president and the reporterette: A screwball story (The New York Times)

“In another life, I probably would have been serving President Bush his vodka martini, made to perfection with a splash of dry vermouth, two olives and a cocktail onion,” writes Maureen Dowd of her experience covering President George H.W. Bush, who passed away this weekend. “But I came along just as the old world of Ivy League white men running everything was breaking up. My mom had applied for a job as a reporter at The Washington Post in 1926 and had been told by a gruff city editor that it was too rough a trade for a young lady. But by 1988, I could be The New York Times White House reporter. And that was a shock to the system for H.W. He was all noblesse oblige and I was all class rage. He was clearly expecting someone with a name like Horatio Farnsworth III, a Harvard man who would bat around the finer points of the North Atlantic alliance over highballs on Air Force One. And he got a newfangled, irreverent ‘reporterette,’ as Rush Limbaugh called us in those days, who was just as focused on character and personality as politics and policy.”