Need to Know: Feb. 19, 2020


You might have heard: Local news outlets are beginning to prioritize collaboration over competition (Poynter)

But did you know: The AP built a tool to help newsrooms in New York share news with each other (Poynter)

AP brought its tool, called StoryShare, to more than two dozen newsrooms in New York that had been “emailing stories back and forth with each other to fill their pages,”  said Noreen Gillespie, deputy managing editor for US News with the AP. “The problem with informal networks is that they aren’t necessarily sustainable. So the idea of AP StoryShare is that we could help moderate an ecosystem, and create a technical platform where it could live and thrive.” StoryShare facilitates content-sharing between newsrooms and lets them offer in-depth reporting on topics they can’t spare a reporter for themselves.

+ Noted: Bloomberg will sell his company if elected, his campaign adviser says (CNN); Patreon is now lending money to its creators to launch projects with high startup costs (Nieman Lab); News Media Alliance announces recipients of John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development (News Media Alliance)


Trust Tip: Share your ethics and corrections policies (Trusting News)

“Don’t just hope interested or frustrated users will find your ethics page,” writes Lynn Walsh. “Make your policies accessible and help them come alive by linking to them from day-to-day coverage.” This week’s edition of Trust Tips shows examples of newsrooms that have found proactive ways of sharing their ethics policies with readers. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


Keep subscription plans simple, stupid (Digiday)

Subscription packages don’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — complicated. Eye-tracking research has found that people only look at the first three or four elements to a subscription package, suggesting that perception of value doesn’t necessarily rely on a long list of subscriber benefits. Likewise, it’s not about how many subscription packages you offer, but how well you design, communicate and upsell them. German publisher Axel Springer reduced its pricing bundles from three to two for one of its titles, and grew subscribers by a record 26% in 2019.


Venezuelan reporters reinvent themselves abroad with print and online journalistic ventures (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)

More than 4.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country between 2016 and 2019, including many of the country’s best journalists. Now several of those journalists have created online and print publications to supply the diaspora community’s demand for information about Venezuela from abroad. The new projects speak to local communities of recently-immigrated Venezuelans. “Our purpose was always to communicate what was happening in exile: to report how they are rejecting us or how we are integrating,” said Víctor Suárez, president-director of, a news site based in Madrid.


Media coverage can inhibit our ability to accurately assess risk. Case in point: the coronavirus (New York Times)

People often use a set of mental shortcuts for measuring danger. When faced with a potential threat, our brains scan for past experiences with it, regardless of how representative those experiences are. We are also more likely to overestimate risk that is new and when particularly strong emotions are attached to it. Media coverage of the coronavirus — and of many alarming but rare events, like plane crashes or acts of terrorism — hit all those “hot buttons” for misjudging risk, experts say.

+ Related: How up-to-the-minute reports and statistics on coronavirus can unintentionally distort the facts (New York Times)


You may not even know you’re spreading lies (Wired)

The difference between misinformation and disinformation is intent. Disinformation is spread by those who are purposely trying to mislead and confuse; misinformation can be spread by those with good intentions — such as journalists trying to debunk rumors and conspiracy theories. Journalists often quote-tweet conspiracy theorists, paraphrase their claims, and even break down their claims point by point. While their intentions may be good, writes Whitney Phillips, “The information ecology … doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s intentions. What matters most is consequence. And the consequence of those retweets, litanies, and articles is to spread the pollution further.”

+ Earlier: 10 questions to ask before reporting on misinformation (First Draft)

+ Why the Dallas Morning News won’t recommend a candidate for president in 2020 (when they endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, it didn’t go over so well with subscribers) (Dallas Morning News)


New Kansas City newsroom on the runway: ‘Start-ups tend to help each other’ (Medill Local News Initiative)

The Beacon, which plans to start publishing this summer, was founded by Kelsey Ryan, a former investigative reporter at the Kansas City Star. The Star is part of the McClatchy chain, which filed for bankruptcy only last week. In building the Beacon from the ground up, Ryan said her efforts have been helped greatly by the experience and advice of the nation’s growing start-up community, especially the Colorado Sun, the Texas Tribune, the Institute for Nonprofit News and LION (Local Independent Online News) Publishers. “I’ve really pulled a lot from the membership model of the Colorado Sun in Denver,” she said. “I went out and met with them. They were really generous with their time. … Also, the events side of the Texas Tribune is really a revenue stream. I talked to them a lot about it.”