Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Need to Know: December 4, 2018

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard76 percent of Americans across the political spectrum have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in their local television news (Poynter)

But did you know: Americans still prefer watching to reading the news — and mostly still through television (Pew Research Center)

Americans continue to prefer watching the news rather than reading or listening to it, and their viewing loyalties have yet to migrate fully to the web. Instead, the majority of U.S. adults who prefer to watch the news opt for television as their primary news platform, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Overall, 47 percent of Americans prefer watching the news rather than reading or listening to it. That is unchanged from 46 percent in 2016 and outpaces the 34 percent who prefer to read the news and 19 percent who prefer to listen to it — both of which also remain on par with 2016 figures.

+ Noted: New startup Memo will offer advertisers audience metrics related to brands in editorial coverage, and split the revenue with publishers (The Wall Street Journal); Paywall for HuffPost? Verizon hunt for web revenue goes beyond ads (The Wall Street Journal); Washington Examiner to expand into a nationally distributed magazine with a broadened editorial focus (Washington Examiner)

API UPDATE

Welcome API’s new audience engagement strategist, Shirley Qiu

In her new role, Shirley will be working with API’s Metrics for News team, helping newsrooms make sense of their analytics and better understand and reach their audiences. Shirley joins API from the Seattle Times, where as Features Producer she worked on digital audience engagement for the Features section. “That job was where I really found my love for audience engagement,” she writes. “Now that I’m working at a journalism nonprofit, I have the exciting opportunity to take a step back to see the bigger-picture view on a national level — and expand the scope of my own thinking when it comes to audience engagement.”

TRY THIS AT HOME

How The New York Times reimagined the Morning Briefing (The New York Times)

The Morning Briefing has more than 1.7 million subscribers, 97 percent of whom say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the newsletter — but that didn’t stop the newsroom from trying to make a successful editorial product even better. The newsletter team recently followed the morning routine of 30 readers for a week, which helped them understand their reading behaviors and identify which parts of the newsletter acted as potential stumbling blocks to a smooth read. Then they used those insights to group the newsletter content into three categories for faster, easier reading: top stories of the day, what else is going on across the internet and in other parts of the world, and items that are fun and/or useful for readers. A conversational voice helps “escort” the reader through the news briefing, and bolded lead-ins like “Why it matters” and “Another angle” enable scanning.

+ How The Financial Times is making marketing services a central part of its ad offering (Digiday)

OFFSHORE

Nigeria is the next battleground for election misinformation (Poynter)

Misinformation is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, where there is a long history of inaccurate reporting and propaganda, but the rise of social media has given new breadth and urgency to the problem. According to a recent survey, nearly one third of Nigerians said they had shared a political news story online that turned out to be fake, and the BBC has reported more than a dozen killings that can be traced to misinformation on Facebook. As the country’s elections loom, fact-checking initiatives are getting underway, including First Draft’s CrossCheck Nigeria and Africa Check, which is partnering with Facebook. But it’s possible that the efforts will be too little, too late, especially on Facebook’s part, says Peter Cunliffe-Jones, the executive director of Africa Check. “I do think it is regrettable that the parts of the world, Africa included, where the problems that can be caused by social media manipulation are gravest were among the last to receive responses from Facebook.”

OFFBEAT

Are pronouns the secret to better customer satisfaction? (MIT Sloan Management Review)

It turns out that personal pronouns have a critical impact on customer satisfaction, and making a simple tweak can improve customers’ perceptions of the quality of service they’re receiving. A recent study found that saying “we” — as in, “We’re happy to help” or “We’ll look into that” — is off-putting to customers, while saying “I” — “I’d be happy to help,” “I’ll look into that” conveys empathy and action, and is more likely to leave a positive impression on customers.

UP FOR DEBATE

Why ‘news for millennials’ media plays never panned out (Digiday)

The layoffs, sales and revenue misses of 2018 (see Vice, Mic and Vox) exposed the fact that “news for millennials” was, for the most part, just a bit of marketing opportunism that didn’t work out, writes Max Willens. “Without a firehose of cheap referral traffic or brands that engendered loyalty in audiences, the great changing of the news guard has yet to come.” Another key problem was sacrificing community to maximize reach. While engagement metrics and direct relationships are en vogue today, many millennial news publishers were born in an era where scale was prized, and they developed accordingly. “There was a core misunderstanding of what makes for successful millennial journalism products,” said Raju Narisetti, director of the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in economics and business journalism at Columbia University. “There was no place to create a community.”

+ Related: The digital-media bubble is bursting. That’s hurting a generation of promising young journalists. (The Washington Post); These local news sites are geared to younger audiences, and thrive on community building and engagement (Nieman Lab)

SHAREABLE

Research suggests ‘local’ news is more fluid than fixed in place (Local News Initiative)

“News organizations today need to move beyond their antiquated definitions of location and dive deeper into the nuances of geographic spaces in this digital and mobile media era,” writes Amy Schmitz Weiss. Weiss, an associate professor San Diego State University, is studying what she calls “spatial journalism” — or the idea that local news isn’t only that which occurs in a reader’s town, but is more likely defined by the reader’s proximity to a news event. In previous research, Schmitz Weiss has found news organizations are slow to use geo-location to improve how they deliver relevant news to their readers, which she considers a key area of improvement for publishers.

+ Related: Introducing HERE: A location-aware app that puts you at the center of local news discovery. (Medium, Lenfest Local Lab)

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