Need to Know: January 3, 2022

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

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: As the pandemic spread across the United States in the beginning of 2020, TV and radio journalists built home studios and spoke with guests virtually (The New York Times)

But did you know: With virus surge, TV news reluctantly resumes distancing (The Washington Post)

With the recent surge in coronavirus cases, TV news outlets are resuming the practices they started early in the pandemic. Some news hosts and anchors returned to working from home or individual studios, and networks including CNN have advised non-essential employees to not come into the office. In-person conversations with guests and talk show panelists have become riskier, leading to more remote broadcasting, which can cause technical problems and delays.

+ Noted: More than 50 local newsrooms launched during the pandemic (Poynter); New print magazine launches more than doubled in 2021 (MediaPost)

API RESOURCES

Apply now to serve as API’s 2022 Inclusion and Audience Growth Intern 

API is hiring a paid summer intern to support our efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within news media and to help us research and share best practices in diversity, inclusion and community engagement in journalism. Learn more and apply by Jan. 31.

TRY THIS AT HOME

How a data-centric approach helps increase audience engagement (World Association of News Publishers)

Esra Dogramaci, managing editor of SBS News in Australia, steers editorial and strategic decisions with data, such as how long people are spending on the site and how they’re engaging with content. Last year, she said, long-term data showed that people were less engaged with stories about COVID-19 and more interested in learning about where to access vaccines and economic assistance, prompting an editorial shift. Dogramaci also recommends considering other factors that could be at play when the reasons behind data trends are unclear. “Sometimes data doesn’t answer all your questions; it is going to bring up other questions for you. Then, context helps,” she said.

+ What LAist learned from 3,000 audience questions in 2021 (LAist); “Sometimes, writing is just a job,” Ijeoma Oluo says in a piece suggesting strategies on writing when you don’t feel like it (Behind the Book, Substack)

OFFSHORE

Readers prefer home-grown local news but less than half will pay for it (Behind Local News)

In a survey from the Public Interest News Foundation in London, 58% of respondents said they would trust local news organizations based in their area, while 31% said they would trust local news produced by outlets based outside their area. Among respondents, 40% said they weren’t willing to pay for a high-quality local news service, slightly less than the 43% who said they would pay. Of those who were willing to pay for local news, most said they would pay 1.30 British pounds per month, with 16% saying they would pay 2 pounds or more per month.

+ Forty-five reporters and media workers were killed in 2021, the lowest death toll since The International Federation of Journalists started tracking it 30 years ago (The Associated Press)

OFFBEAT

Business leaders are forced to embrace uncertainty (The New York Times)

During the pandemic, as working from home increased dramatically, 60% of executives said they had changed their management approach, according to IBM research. After an extended period of frequent disruptions and uncertainty, the Omicron variant added to the state of flux by delaying some companies’ plans, including events, advertising campaigns, and their timelines for returning to the office. Staffing remains an uncertainty, too, especially during a surge of resignations and as workers become ill amid rising Omicron cases.

+ How rotating leadership can reinforce empathy and help your team learn new skills (International Journalists’ Network)

UP FOR DEBATE

Can Axios save local news? (Axios)

In a manifesto, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes that the publication’s goal is “to bring smart, modern, trustworthy local news to every community in America.” Axios Local aims to be the solution to people’s need for high-quality reporting as towns across the country are reinventing themselves. Local reporting, he says, can be revitalized by meeting readers’ needs, investing in people, and creating a new, healthy daily habit.

+ Melanie Sill notes that most of the cities where Axios Local is launching are not news deserts and the new sites “are both addition and competition for local news — question is what kind of service will the new outlets provide.” (Twitter, @melaniesill)

SHAREABLE

How news publishers are using artificial intelligence to tell data-driven stories (Editor and Publisher)

Publishers including Bloomberg, Guardian Australia, and Yahoo are using AI software to create automated journalism that augments their existing coverage in business, campaign finance, sports, and other data-heavy topics. At the Miami Herald and the Sacramento Bee, AI software builds stories from real estate information and templates created by journalists. The Associated Press, which first began experimenting with AI-assisted reporting 10 years ago, uses the technology to produce game previews for college basketball. It has long said that automated reporting is reserved for stories that wouldn’t usually require a reporter.

+ What questions do you have about journalism in 2022? Bridget Thoreson, member collaborations editor for the Institute for Nonprofit News, made a list (Twitter, @BridgetThoreson)