Need to Know: July 28, 2020

You might have heard: Community Info Coop expanded its Info Districts Project in March (Info Districts) 

But did you know: Information districts are a popular way to expand funding for public media (Data for Progress)

In a new survey, information districts, or local news funded by levies but operated separately from municipal government, was a popular option for how government can support local media. In a poll by Data for Progress, more than half of voters (62%) support the idea of an information district, including 56% of Republicans, who are less likely to support government funding of news in other ways. In comparison, only 44% of Americans support allocating federal funds to support local journalism as part of coronavirus relief, and 49% support expanding support for public media like PBS and NPR.

+ Noted: Local Media Consortium to launch The Matchup with deep coverage on professional and college sports (Local Media Consortium); New York Times names Jyoti Thottam as deputy op-ed editor (New York Times Co.); New York Post lays off 5% of staff (Study Hall); Alden Global Capital would have cut 1,000 jobs if it had succeeded in buying McClatchy, according to McClatchy (Poynter)

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TRY THIS AT HOME

Get away from the ‘transactional’ nature of hiring diverse candidates (Nieman Reports)

Doug Mitchell, founder and director of Next Generation Radio, suggests that when managers are interested in hiring journalists of color, they should consider asking themselves if they know anyone who would be good for the position before asking others — like himself, as the leader of an initiative to promote inclusivity in journalism. “We’re not the supply store, and I’m not its manager,” Mitchell writes. “Ask yourself if YOU know anyone. Seriously. Because, if you don’t, whose fault is that? It’s not mine. And I’m not here to absolve you of that or create a short cut on your behalf.”

+ “Resettled” podcast engages collaborators in storytelling to capture refugee experience (Current)

OFFSHORE

How a European media collective launched a membership program while in lockdown (Poynter)

Are We Europe, a pan-European media collective that produces a quarterly print and online magazine, had struggled with a micropayment model in the past, but the pandemic led them to seek out a series of online focus groups with readers that ultimately led to a four-tier membership model, which launched in June. In the focus groups, readers said they were drawn to the sense of belonging that the magazine fostered. The four tiers range from €3/month to support the site, to a €25/month “solidarity” tier that, among other perks, allows readers to give away three free memberships.

+ More than half of female journalists worldwide say COVID-19 has worsened gender inequalities in industry (Press Gazette)

OFFBEAT

How The New York Times thinks about your privacy (Medium, NYT Open)

Writing for The New York Times’ “NYT Open” blog, Robin Berjon, data governance lead at the paper, explains why the Times is changing its approach to the personal data it collects from readers. Berjon writes that news sites are more likely to rely on third-party trackers than non-news sites, which they use to track readers to enhance both subscription and advertising efforts. Under the Times’ new privacy policy (which is posted online and is written at a 7-year-old readability level), the paper has reduced the amount of data shared with third-party tracking and programmatic advertising platforms.

UP FOR DEBATE

Digital start-ups: Great local news hope or disappointment? (Local News Initiative)

With print publications suffering for decades, digital start-ups seemed like the clear future of local news. Marc Jacobs at the Local News Initiative argues that the format isn’t living up to its potential quite yet. The task of creating a brand and readership base from scratch is difficult, but things may get easier as the public at large starts to realize what they miss without strong local newspapers. For that reason, crowdfunding can be a key revenue stream, especially when included in a launch announcement, when it can capture people’s excitement for the new venture.

SHAREABLE 

Asked and answered: What readers want to know about coronavirus (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post has catalogued and organized more than 10,000 questions from readers about COVID-19 into a searchable guide. The most common questions are at the top, and the guide is updated twice a day. The most popular categories are “How it spreads” and “State & federal response”; others include “Pandemic science & history” and “Hospital capacity & PPE.” At the end of the guide, readers can submit their own questions, which may lead to an email from a Post reporter with follow-up questions.

+ Earlier: KPCC-LAist’s COVID-19 “help desk” approach is driving newsletter subscriptions — and memberships (Better News)