Need to Know: Jan. 6, 2020

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


You might have heard: Journalism organizations lost 3,160 jobs last year (Columbia Journalism Review)

But did you know: Internet media employment tripled over the past decade to 277,000 jobs (Ad Age)

In the last decade, online media companies became the largest employer in the media industry, surpassing newspapers, magazines, radio and television, according to analysis from Ad Age. Last year, 36 percent of media jobs were with online media firms, up from 11 percent in 2009. During the same time, newspapers went from holding more than a third of media jobs to just 17 percent, as papers cut about 144,000 jobs during the decade.

+ Noted: Unsealed report outlines sexual harassment allegations against former PBS host Tavis Smiley (Deadline); BuzzFeed global operations report $12 million loss (MediaPost); Despite agreement, National Enquirer still yet to be sold by American Media (New York Post)


API welcomes new staff to expand the Local News Transformation Program

We are pleased to announce the addition of three new full-time API staff members: Emily Ristow, Larry Graham and Tricia Cantor. In their respective roles, Emily, Larry and Tricia will direct and support the expansion of the Local News Transformation Program, more commonly known as Table Stakes. The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund awarded API a $3.3 million grant in September to expand and manage the Table Stakes program’s core activities.


Engage your audience with constructive journalism (

Constructive journalism, similar to solutions journalism in the United States, can be an avenue to engage audiences who may be avoiding news that is overrun with negative stories. Journalists often have a “negativity bias” in favor of stories that play into intense, negative emotions like anger, sadness and fear. An alternative is reframing stories to focus on solutions to issues, rather than exposing wrongdoing. “Constructive journalism is optimistic, but it does not have to be happy,” writes Delmar Terblanche. “It needs an action point at the end of the article which signals better times ahead, even the current outlook is bleak.”


Lobby journalists raise ‘significant concerns’ over changes to daily government briefings (Press Gazette)

Reminiscent of similar worries in the United States, political journalists from Westminster, who are called Lobby journalists, criticized recent changes to daily government briefings that could impact coverage. The Boris Johnson administration is moving daily briefings to Downing Street from a room in the House of Commons, a meeting place that allowed journalists to attend both the briefing and Parliament proceedings. Lobby chairman Christopher Hope expressed concerns that the change would make it difficult for journalists to attend the briefings, especially at smaller news organizations.

+ Murdoch-owned newspaper accused of downplaying bushfires in favor of picnic races (The Guardian)


TikTok received 68 requests for information from the United States in the first half of 2019 (Adweek)

According to a TikTok report released last week, the United States legally requested information from the social media platform more than all countries but India. TikTok’s director of public policy wrote that these government requests may include asking for content to be removed or asking for information to assist in criminal investigations. TikTok’s report said the platform received 298 requests for information in all during the first six months of last year, and the disclosure did not note any requests from China, where TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based. However, TikTok is subject to China’s censorship rules.

+ Related: Hype House and the Los Angeles TikTok ‘collab house’ gold rush (New York Times)


Reporters wanted: Local news has a talent crisis (Digiday)

The spread of news deserts has a separate problem, as many undercovered communities lack reporters to do the work, especially as many of America’s young adults pursue careers in urban areas. “Without open-minded people being willing to test new business models or product strategies, the prospects for news companies might become grimmer,” writes Max Willens. This supposed lack of talent caused McClatchy and Google’s Compass Experiment to avoid certain areas when planting its local news labs, because as General Manager Mandy Jenkins said, “It’s not sensible for us to go somewhere where there’s literally nothing.”

+ Related: After merger, Gannett must keep local journalists in their jobs (Columbia Journalism Review) 


The Hill’s owner seeks potential buyers, investors (Politico)

Jimmy Finkelstein, who owns The Hill, is seeking $100 to $300 million for the publication, which his father started more than 25 years ago. This development follows criticism over the publication’s columns from former Hill TV executive John Solomon, whose claims regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine were disputed by U.S. officials and in impeachment testimony. The Hill announced last year that it would review Solomon’s stories and columns and make its findings public.