Need to Know: Feb. 3, 2016

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


You might have heard: Yahoo may be considering a sale or spinoff of its web business (Bloomberg Business), and layoffs were expected as part of the reorganization (Business Insider)

But did you know: Yahoo’s ‘aggressive strategic plan’ includes laying off 15 percent of its workforce and closing 5 offices (VentureBeat)
Yahoo announced Tuesday an “aggressive strategic plan” designed to simplify the company as its turnaround has failed to succeed. Yahoo will lay off 15 percent of its workforce, and close offices in Dubai, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and Milan. The company expects to save $400 million each year from the cuts. Going forward, Ken Yeung writes that Yahoo will focus on increasing user engagement, trimming down of its portfolio of products, and consolidating some of its digital magazines.

+ Noted: The Intercept says reporter Juan Thompson, who was on staff until December, fabricated quotes and used fake email accounts to impersonate people, including editor-in-chief Betsy Reed (The Intercept) and Talking Points Memo unpublished a first-person essay by Thompson on criminal violence in his family (iMediaEthics); Tampa Bay Times agrees to print its competitor The Tampa Tribune for the next five years (Poynter); Despite falling traffic, viral publisher Elite Daily’s ad revenue is growing: Traffic dropped 42.8 percent between Nov. 2014 and Nov. 2015, but ad revenue grew by 211 percent year-over-year (Advertising Age); Two years after a “hard reset,” Patch says it’s growing traffic and revenue, and has plans to expand in 2016 (Wall Street Journal)


Why Storyful thinks of all of its journalists as innovators (INMA)
Storyful’s internal “10 commandments” define what the company is and the philosophies behind their work. Focusing on encouraging everyone at Storyful to push the boundaries, founder and director of innovation Mark Little defines the 10th commandment as: “A Storyful journalist is also an innovator. We each have a responsibility to constantly push boundaries and challenge convention. If you see a problem, you have an obligation to offer a solution. If you identify an opportunity, come up with a plan. Don’t assume someone else will lead. Do not fear failure. It is proof we have tried. The key is to recognize the difference between success and failure in the shortest period of time.”

+ The Washington Post and CNN are experimenting with crowdsourcing stories through voicemail: Users can call in to a number and tell a story on a specific subject in a medium where they don’t feel like they’re under pressure (SoundCloud)


PinkNews publishes a list of stories removed from Google search results under Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ law (Guardian)
Gay news site PinkNews published a list of 19 stories, including allegations that a BBC star made homophobic comments, it says were removed from Google search results under Europe’s “right to be forgotten” laws. PinkNews says the “right to be forgotten” laws are an “infringement of press freedom.” In a statement with the list of stories, PinkNews says that it regularly refuses requests to change or take down articles, and only does so if the story proves to be inaccurate or if the removal was ordered by a court. PinkNews also says that it stands by the accuracy of the articles on that list.

+ Earlier: The BBC is also listing its pages removed from Google as a result of the “right to be forgotten”


Research from Facebook and Twitter show that people process mobile content faster (Advertising Age)
Research conducted independently by Facebook and Twitter shows that people process content on mobile faster and can even recall content in the news feed after one second of exposure. Twitter’s Jeffrey Graham and Facebook’s Fidji Simo say that particular finding means that “after only one second, ad recall goes up enough to be attributed to exposure.” If a user makes it through the first few seconds of a video, they’re more likely to keep watching: On Facebook, once a user watches the first three seconds, 65 percent go on to watch at least 10 seconds of the video and 45 percent watch at least 30 seconds; Twitter also found a strong correlation between watching the first three seconds of a video and watching the video to the end.

+ Cory Bergman on the “surprising value of a mobile user”: “The most successful mobile experiences connect people, and as they scale, they get better and generate massive amounts of data. That data is enabling unprecedented ad targeting and return on investment.” (Mobile Media Memo)


While covering the Flint water crisis, journalists and citizens in Michigan are calling for changes to the state’s FOIA laws (Poynter)
In Michigan, “the Flint water crisis is the latest and most striking example of how holes in the state’s sunshine laws have sharply reduced transparency between citizens and elected officials,” Annie Byrnes writes. Even before the Flint story began, Michigan was already notable for its lack of transparency, coming in dead last in the Center for Public Integrity’s 2015 State Integrity Study. Brandon Dillon, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, says: “I do think it’s arguable that if the public and the press would have had access to the kind of information that they do in 48 other states earlier, that this would not have dragged on so long.”


How Southern-focused niche magazine Garden & Gun is attracting readers and ad revenue as other magazines struggle (Wall Street Journal)
Bimonthly niche magazine Garden & Gun is defying a slump in the industry as a whole, Jeffrey Trachtenberg writes: According to the Alliance for Audited Media, single-copy sales of Garden & Gun rose 17 percent for the six-month period ending in June, while paid and verified subscriptions rose by 10 percent. The magazine also sold 470 ad pages in 2015, a growth of 6 percent from 2014. Though Garden & Gun has a modest digital presence (136,000 unique visitors in December), editor in chief David DiBenedetto, says the magazine has steadily increased its online readership since 2013: “Our numbers aren’t huge, but it mirrors our circulation in that we aren’t a mass magazine.”

+ Earlier: Topic, not demographics or habits, is now the biggest factor determining where people turn for news, and niche news outlets present both a challenge and an opportunity for general-interest publishers