Need to Know: Jan. 16, 2020


You might have heard: Hedge fund Alden Global Capital buys up 32% stake in Tribune (Chicago Tribune)

But did you know: Alden executives are advising Tribune to cut costs, including headcount, sources say (Nieman Lab)

Monday’s announcement that Tribune was introducing a broad buyout plan was made at the urging of Alden executives, anonymous sources told Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor. Those sources also claim that Alden is recommending other cost-cutting measures that could total $20 million per year, including reducing leased office space at Tribune properties. If true, these moves suggest that a merger between Tribune and MNG Enterprises, Alden’s majority-owned media company, is fast approaching, says Doctor.

+ “The end result of [a Tribune/MNG merger] would be what were three months ago the five largest newspaper chains in the US…reduced to two. And both of them controlled by money guys — a hedge fund (Alden) and private equity (Fortress, which operates Gannett).” (Twitter, @jbenton)

+ Noted: McClatchy misses debt and pension payments as negotiations with creditors continue (Wall Street Journal); Google recommends journalists sign up for its new Advanced Protection Program (Google); NBC’s new streaming service Peacock will include a news program (Vox); First Draft launches U.S. 2020 Local News Fellowship (First Draft)


Go beyond pageviews

Pageviews can be an important metric, but it’s not the north star. Understand which metrics can give you better insights into your audience using API’s Metrics for News analytics software. Learn more here.


Audience-centered ways to track the impact of your journalism (News Media Alliance)

When thinking about ways to track your impact, think about what’s most important to your audience, writes Anjanette Delgado, senior news director for digital at the Detroit Free Press. “What will matter to donors, subscribers, your community? We define impact as ‘real-world change that happens as a result of our journalism.’” The Hechinger Report, an education-focused news outlet, has a list of 28 “impact items,” including school or district administrator action, benefit to source, and when their content is used in research or professional development.


Citizen journalism platform uses Bluetooth to bring news to media dark villages in India (IJNet)

CGNet Swara is a citizen journalism group working in the forests of central India, where a civil war has been raging for more than 40 years. To reach the people in this area, many of whom are illiterate and without access to internet and cellular service, CGNET Swara uses Bluetooth to distribute its journalism. The team trained locals to serve as paid “newspaper boys” (and girls) who would go from village to village sharing the audio stories via a specially-designed app, as well as capturing stories from locals.


Podcast Groups aren’t just about podcasts (New York Times)

For podcast fans seeking to introduce a social aspect to the inherently isolating experience of podcast listening, Facebook Groups is the platform of choice, writes Taylor Lorenz. Thousands of lively fan groups have formed around podcasts both popular and lesser-known, and when these groups get too big, they’ll often splinter off into smaller groups that allow for more focused discussion. Some of those discussions end up being around topics tangential to the podcast. For newsrooms, the trend suggests that creating venues for niche discussions is a more effective way to engage audiences than broadcasting a wide range of content.

+ “There’s a guy named Kayvon … he’ll get you sorted”: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey was either revealing the secret way to get verified on Twitter, or trolling his colleague, head of product Kayvon Beykpour (Nieman Lab)


Does the mainstream media offer a ‘whitewashed’ version of President Trump? (Vox)

News coverage of Trump often omits his more outlandish, incendiary, or untrue statements, writes Aaron Rupar. While many media outlets do so intentionally, seeking to avoid accusations of bias and giving oxygen to inaccurate claims by the president, they’re not providing the public an “unfiltered” view of Trump, Rupar argues. “For media outlets that view themselves as above taking sides, attempts to provide a sober, ‘balanced’ look at presidential speeches often end up normalizing things that are decidedly not normal.


Engagement isn’t a project, it’s a way of making news (Open News)

Engaging audiences can’t be done through a standalone project; it’s a process that involves the entire newsroom. Hiring engagement-focused roles can help change workflows so that the process becomes truly embedded in the organization. “Newsrooms should lead with these positions,” writes Angilee Shah. “Those making the decisions about coverage and resources should be the ones who have the broadest knowledge and deepest ties to the constituents that a news organization is trying to serve.” Ideally, she says, those roles would have a little separation from daily news operations, but influence long-term strategy and decision making.

+ Earlier: Our strategy study looks at ways to optimize your reporting workflow for deep listening and engagement