Need to Know: February 16, 2021


You might have heard: The moral argument for diversity in newsrooms is also a business argument (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: The Philadelphia Inquirer’s content audit finds a lack of diversity on the page and in the newsroom (The Lenfest Institute)  

The Philadelphia Inquirer has published an independent audit of its news coverage, which analyzed thousands of articles, photos and videos published between August 2019 and July 2020. Researchers at Temple University conducted the audit, which looked at the paper’s representations of different races, genders and geographies in its news coverage. The audit found that a “significant majority” of subjects and sources of news stories were white and male, and that nearly three-quarters of the Inquirer’s newsroom is white. News teams that were more diverse tended to include more people of color in their reporting. The report suggests that the paper introduce more inclusive sourcing and editing practices and develop systems for community feedback. 

+ Related: The Lenfest Local Lab, the Brown Institute and The Philadelphia Inquirer are building open-source content audit tools for local newsrooms (Lenfest Institute)

+ Noted: White House deputy press secretary resigns after threatening reporter over story about him (CNN); An independent journalist is suing D.C. police after he was arrested filming a Black Lives Matter protest (DCist); Texas newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman, have lost power and could not print Tuesday’s editions (Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman)


Podcast: Measure the impact of local journalism on your community (It’s All Journalism)

Anjanette Delgado, senior news director for digital at the Detroit Free Press, talks to It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell about the Free Press’ community impact report, and how newsrooms can create their own reports to measure the effect local journalism is having on their community and how it is contributing to their fundraising efforts. This episode is the latest in “Better News,” a podcast series from It’s All Journalism and API that shares success stories from the Table Stakes newsroom training program.

+ Earlier: How the Detroit Free Press uses an annual impact report to show how its journalism drives change (Better News)


#HowToTucson welcomes new residents with its newsletter course (News Revenue Hub) 

Arizona’s #ThisIsTucson recently launched an eight-part newsletter course aimed at new residents to the Tucson area. The outlet hopes that the area’s popularity during the pandemic, due to pleasant weather and a low cost of living, will translate to more newcomers and more readers for the newsletter. #HowToTucson is broken into topics like weather, schools and food, and is aimed at giving readers actionable advice. Since launching in December, the newsletter has gained 3,500 subscribers, and 18 people have converted to paying members. The team is now exploring other evergreen topics for short-form courses, particularly areas that could be monetized. 

+ Earlier: How WUNC does a “welcome kit” for new residents (Twitter, @mkramer); The new folks in town are an untapped audience for local news (Nieman Lab)


New Zealand government pledges $55 million for a new fund for public interest news and journalism (RNZ)

New Zealand’s government has announced a new fund for journalism and public interest news. Over the next three years, media companies around the country will compete for $55 million NZD ($40 million USD) from government commission NZ on Air. The money will be available to all news organizations, including local and ethnic media outlets, with the goal of supporting “public interest journalism which would otherwise be at risk.” Broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi says that while some “purists” think that funding public media is enough, he worries that the shuttering of private outlets would reduce the number of voices in the media.

+ Australia news outlet Seven West Media has struck a deal with Google to pay for journalism (Associated Press) 


How and why magazines are morphing into books (CNN) 

Special editions of magazines — what some in the industry refer to as bookazines — have become an important source of revenue for publishers in the last few years. These editions are less reliant on advertising and often cheaper to produce, since pages can be filled with stories and photos from the archives. At $10 or more for issues that can exceed 100 pages, they bring in more profit than a regular magazine edition. They can seize on diet trends or cultural moments like the death of celebrity, and are marketed as impulse purchases at grocery and drug stores, some of the few businesses consistently open during the pandemic. 


Engaged journalism is trendy, but it may not help the bottom line (Cronkite News Lab) 

Engagement is the journalism buzzword of the moment, but Knight Innovation Fellow Jacob Nelson writes that there are limits to what engagement can do. He writes that newsrooms don’t actually have much influence on the way that audiences interact with news. Factors like social media algorithms and a saturated news ecosystem mean that even if news outlets are producing the exact content their audience wants, readers may not react in the way the newsroom hoped.  So he suggests not trying to lump in engagement strategy with sustainability goals, since tying them together can put unfair and unrealistic pressure on audience strategies that are still worthwhile. 


Accountability suffers as newspaper closures grow in South Carolina and across the nation (Post and Courier) 

Seven newspapers in South Carolina have closed in the last year, part of the more than 60 outlets that closed across the U.S. in 2020. Glenn Smith and Tony Bartelme report that newspaper losses have particularly hit rural areas that have struggled with poverty and failing schools for years. Following the closure of the Allendale Sun in 2015 — the only paper covering rural Allendale County — three public officials went to jail for embezzlement and the state was forced to take control over the schools twice. One study found that newspapers and law enforcement had a synergistic effect, where investigators would read local papers for clues of possible corruption. Another study found that governments cost taxpayers more when newspapers shut down, with salaries, deficits and borrowing costs all increasing. 

+ Related: The Post and Courier has launched Uncovered, a project covering how news deserts and weak ethics laws allow corruption to run rampant in South Carolina (The Post and Courier)