Need to Know: January 7, 2022


Ben Smith of The New York Times and Justin Smith of Bloomberg announced this week that they are launching a new global news site aimed at “university-educated English speakers.” They have described the publication as “post social media” but have not given specifics on what the outlet will look like. Some have been critical of the way the organization was announced, pointing out that women and people of color launching newsrooms generally need to be much more detailed with their planning in order to attract investors. (The Financial Times, The New Yorker, Poynter) 


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

News engagement fell off a cliff in 2021. After traffic increases in 2020 due to the pandemic and the election, metrics were down across the board in 2021. Events like the Winter Olympics and the midterm elections will likely draw more audiences in 2022, but they’re unlikely to reach 2020 highs. (Axios)   

More than 70 local newsrooms launched during the pandemic. Newsrooms popped up in 32 states and Puerto Rico, including some in rural areas. In the wake of the pandemic, more Americans are realizing the value of local news, as well as the need to serve underrepresented communities. (Poynter) 

NPR is losing some of its Black and Latino hosts. Colleagues see a larger crisis. All Things Considered’s Audie Cornish became the most recent broadcaster of color to leave the network, with many saying that the network fails to support journalists of color. On Twitter, Cornish reiterated that she was leaving “with no malice or resentment” but that there is “work that still needs to be done” when it comes to equity in public media. (The Washington Post, Twitter @AudieCornish) 


How a 1-pound bag of coffee helped the Keene Sentinel reduce its digital subscriber churn (Better News)

The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire needed to address its subscriber churn, which was particularly high for subscribers who signed up to deeply discounted offers. The paper decided to partner with a local coffee roaster and offer a slightly discounted subscription, paired with a bag of coffee. The promotion worked; there was only a 20% churn rate with coffee subscribers, down more than 30%. It was such a success that the Sentinel went on to partner with other producers, including a candy company, a soap manufacturer, and a maker of rum. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.


+ ONA announces capacity support investment for The Pivot Fund to promote racial equity in journalism (Online News Association) 

+ Why KPCC/LAist is shifting the focus of its politics coverage from politicians to voters (Medium, KPCC) 

+ Just a little too slow: Why journalists struggle to cover climate change (Nieman Lab) 

+ How the both-sides media would cover a successful Trump coup (The Washington Post)