Need to Know: Feb. 10, 2020

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Politico publisher’s Protocol launches into crowded space for tech journalism (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Maybe ‘Information’ actually doesn’t want to be free (The New York Times)

San Francisco-based tech site The Information abandoned for-profit journalism’s advertising-based business model, instead building revenue from subscriptions that cost about $400 per year. The ad-free publication, which is projected to reach $20 million in sales by the end of the year, made a name for itself with muckraking stories that hold Silicon Valley’s powerful to account. Founder Jessica Lessin said of the site’s paywall: “I’ve said this from the beginning and I continue to say this, but you can’t give away what you expect the reader to find valuable.”

+ Noted: A new study shows female journalists at local television stations face threats while alone in the field (Journalism); More than a dozen journalists in Chicago-area Tribune Publishing newsrooms are taking buyouts (Twitter, Chicago Tribune Guild); The Wall Street Journal surpasses 2 million digital subscriptions (News Corp); Jessica Mendoza signs extension with ESPN, resigns from Mets adviser role (ESPN)

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TRY THIS AT HOME

Thrillist becomes the latest publisher to launch travel packages to diversify revenue (What’s New In Publishing)

Lonely Planet, The Times and The Sunday Times have experimented with branded travel packages, while Culture Trip launched its own travel agency. Now Thrillist, a food and entertainment site, is leveraging audience data for its travel coverage to pinpoint destinations for the site’s new travel packages. Rather than go it alone, Thrillist is partnering with Academic Travel Abroad Inc., a travel company that will provide logistic support for the packages, which will kick off with two trips to Mexico and Morocco at the end of the year.

+ WHRO Public Media’s first news director shares her takeaways on starting a newsroom (Public Media Journalists Association)

OFFSHORE

African women data journalists are reshaping their newsrooms (International Journalists’ Network)

They’re called WanaData, “Daughters of Data” in Swahili, and this network of almost 100 female African journalists and data experts is leading innovative projects that amplify under-reported stories about women. Since Code for Africa and the International Center for Journalists started WanaData Africa in Nigeria three years ago, the network has expanded to six countries, where members have published more than 100 data-driven stories and collaborative projects. WanaData members learn skills like data scraping and visualization and have opportunities for grants and mentorship. 

+ A call for freedom of speech in China followed the death of a doctor who was reprimanded for calling attention to the coronavirus (The New York Times); Russian media touts coronavirus conspiracy theories (BBC)

OFFBEAT

Our.News fights misinformation with a ‘nutrition label’ for news stories (TechCrunch)

Our.News founder and CEO Richard Zack is skeptical of fact-checking, claiming, “You can’t fight misinformation by telling people what’s true, because they don’t believe it.” Instead, Our.News is a browser extension and app that provides background on individual stories. The story labels aggregate information from Freedom Forum, AllSides and fact-checking organizations, note if a story is clickbait or satire, and compile user ratings and reviews.

+ Facebook vows to improve security after hack of 29 million users (Bloomberg)

UP FOR DEBATE

Gayle King doesn’t deserve your anger (The Undefeated)

In a recent interview, CBS This Morning host Gayle King asked WNBA star Lisa Leslie a question about the late Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault trial. She has since faced threats and expletive-laced criticism from the likes of rapper Snoop Dogg. David Dennis Jr. argues that this ardent defense of Bryant risks perpetuating the rape culture that first rendered the athlete’s offense acceptable in 2003. “To demand silence over the case does an injustice to the victims of sexual violence as well as the work Bryant did to try to make it right,” he writes.

+ Related: CBS News chief calls threats against Gayle King “reprehensible” as Snoop Dogg walks back comments (Deadline)

+ Why journalists shouldn’t make political predictions (The Washington Post)

SHAREABLE

After chaotic Iowa caucuses, this TV station plays a big role in New Hampshire (The Los Angeles Times)

Manchester, New Hampshire’s WMUR is the only commercial TV station in the state that carries the first presidential primary, making it perhaps the most influential local television outlet in the country during election season. Candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden are fixtures in WMUR, which takes home millions for political ads that run on the station. WMUR journalists receive national exposure, as well. On Friday, the station’s political director Adam Sexton and anchor Monica Hernandez asked questions during the Democratic debate, an event with an audience of almost 8 million.