Need to Know: January 5, 2022


You might have heard: News avoiders are making strategic choices about the information they consume  (Nieman Lab) 

But did you know: News engagement fell off a cliff in 2021 (Axios) 

Engagement with news dropped dramatically between 2020 and 2021, and it’s unlikely to rebound in 2022, writes Sara Fischer. The Trump era and the pandemic created “a one-of-a-kind media moment” that is unlikely to be matched. Ratings have dropped for both cable and broadcast news, and website visits, social media engagements and app downloads of news publishers have all declined. The 2021 numbers would likely have been even lower if it were not for the attack on the Capitol last January, which drew a massive global spike in traffic. 

+ Noted: The News Media Alliance is taking nominations for its John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development (News Media Alliance); Ben Smith and Bloomberg’s Justin Smith are starting a new global news organization (The New York Times) 


API is hiring a Marketing Manager

We’re looking for a Marketing Manager to increase the awareness, reach, relevance and engagement of our brand, programs, products and services. This person will play a central role in helping us to tell our story to partners, program participants, funders and other stakeholders. We are seeking candidates with professional marketing experience. Experience working in a media or news organization is not a requirement, but an awareness of or exposure to journalism, media or its business is helpful. Applications should be submitted no later than Feb. 1. 

+ Trust Tip: Use these 4 research facts as motivation to invest in earning trust (Trusting News) 


How newsroom leadership can embrace criticism about diversity, equity and inclusion (Editor and Publisher) 

As awareness of the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in newsrooms grows, some staffers are holding newsroom leaders responsible for past harm done by a publication. While such feedback can seem harsh or unfair to those in charge, Emma Carew Grovum writes that it is important for leaders to remove emotion from their reactions and instead try to listen and digest what is being asked of them. If there are steps to be taken to address these concerns, she says, transparency and openness of the process and future initiatives are key to building trust going forward. 


How a shift in revenue streams pushed this Norwegian newspaper to change its approach to journalism (International News Media Association) 

As Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has transitioned from a predominantly advertising model to mostly subscriptions-based model, the paper’s editorial emphasis has shifted. Now, instead of focusing on reaching as many people as possible as often as possible, the goal is journalism that “gives individual users high value over time,” writes Eirik H. Winsnes, Aftenposten’s development editor. With 80% of its revenue coming from subscribers, the paper has focused on user needs, from news summaries to help keep readers up-to-speed with evolving international stories to TV and book reviews tailored to the digital landscape. 


NPR doubling down on podcast subscriptions (Axios) 

NPR is planning to launch a podcast bundle as a benefit to local stations this year, reports Sara Fischer, as the network hopes to build a younger, more diverse audience of paying members. The bundle will include on-demand access to a library of podcasts and digital content, and will differ from the network’s current podcast offering, NPR+, which allows subscribers to pay for ad-free versions of a podcast. Joel Sucherman, NPR’s vice president for new platform partnerships, says the network is also experimenting with adding perks like unedited interviews, member-only events and merchandise. All the podcasts will remain available for free with sponsorships. 


The media’s addiction to bad news is a driving dynamic in today’s politics (Substack, The Message Box) 

This fall, the media relentlessly covered the supply chain problems that threatened to ruin the holiday season for many, writes Democratic strategist Dan Pfeiffer, but when disaster failed to strike, the press barely covered it. Pfeiffer argues that the press “is in constant search for a crisis to keep their viewers and readers in a state of perpetual anxiety,” with many of the most popular stories of 2021 focusing on bad news. In Pfeiffer’s view, the combination of the press’s desire for clicks at all costs and its focus on government accountability necessitates a focus on what’s going wrong in government at the expense of what’s going right.” 

+ Earlier: Some newspapers have begun adding print sections on focused good news (Poynter) 


Who gets to investigate? How reporters of color are shut out of investigative journalism (Study Hall)

Barriers to entry for journalists of color can be especially hard for investigative reporters, writes Chantal Flores. Stories about marginalized communities are often seen as unimportant by mainstream outlets, and when they are covered, journalists from those communities may be seen as “too close” to objectively report on the story. Many journalists of color are not granted the time and money to carry out long-term investigative projects by mainstream outlets, leading some to turn to independent publications that prioritize audiences of color.