Need to Know: July 9, 2019

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


You might have heard: New Yorker log-in woes “have achieved meme status” (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: Why you have to keep logging in to read news on your phone (Vox)

The New Yorker isn’t the only news website that forces subscribers to continually log in. It’s a widespread problem for online news; subscribers aren’t happy, and neither are publishers, who have little control over the matter. Most subscribers come to news sites from places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other apps, which don’t communicate with publishers’ websites and typically attempt to keep users within their own in-app browsers; forcing subscribers to log in again and again. To get around the problem, some publishers are working directly with the apps that most frequently link to their sites, like LinkedIn and Twitter, to try to find ways to keep users logged in. Others have tried enlisting third-party services that create anonymous IDs that allow users to access their websites on different browsers or apps. “In many ways, however, these efforts can feel like Band-Aids on broken bones,” writes Rani Molla. “Ultimately, bigger changes would lie with Google and Apple, which have more power over the whole experience.”

+ Noted: ProPublica is expanding its local reporting network to Youngstown, Ohio, after the region’s only daily newspaper announced it will close (ProPublica); A landscape study of local news models across the U.S. examines emerging for-profit and nonprofit models and the “billionaire owners club” (Shorenstein Center); The New England Center for Investigative Reporting joins 89.7 WGBH News (WGBH)


Meet API’s 2019-20 Community Listening Fellows

API is pleased to announce the journalists who will receive support for year-long projects that help their newsrooms produce more journalism based on community listening. Our Community Listening Fellows will receive both in-person and remote support as they implement projects of their design that employ listening strategies to better represent and support their communities.

+ Earlier: The workflow processes that need to change to cultivate a “culture of listening” in your newsroom 


How KUOW’s ‘Ask A…’ event series is generating civil, productive conversation around news (Gather) 

It was 2016, and debate was raging around President Trump’s Muslim ban. In an attempt to raise the local public discourse around the issue, Seattle public radio station KUOW hosted an in-person event called “Ask a Muslim,” where designated “Askers” and “Answerers” participated in a speed-dating style conversation. Since then, KUOW has expanded the event to a series including themes like “Ask a Cop” and “Ask a Transgender Person.” “Our goals are to promote empathy and understanding,” said Ross Reynolds, executive producer of community engagement at KUOW. “You put people in contact with one another in this safe, civil situation where you’re just here to ask or you’re just here to answer.” KUOW surveys have found that the events increase empathy and understanding between the “Asker” and “Answerer” groups, and they’ve opened up KUOW reporters to new potential sources. The series may also turn into a significant revenue stream for the station: With a $50,000 grant from the University of Washington, KUOW is exploring how to turn it into a paid service for businesses and other organizations. 

+ Related: The complete toolkit for how to do “dialogue journalism” (Spaceship Media)

+ 14 steps to use collaborations to create better journalism and boost revenue (Poynter)


In Spain, coverage of a sex crime opens debate about revealing identifying details in the press (Columbia Journalism Review)

In late May, a Spanish woman committed suicide after a sex video she’d taken of herself surfaced online. The story set off a debate among the media about how to appropriately cover victims in such cases. Some media outlets withheld the woman’s name and other details about her life, hoping to protect her anonymity. Others published her name, hometown, details about her family and more, arguing that such an approach serves to humanize victims. “Reputable news outlets who named the woman were, for the most part, trying to avoid a story with a faceless victim,” writes Meaghan Beatley. “But how can the media humanize victims of sexual violence without inadvertently doxxing them — revealing key identifying details — or facilitating access to sensitive material, like a sex tape?” 


How global social media trends are changing how people access and share news (What’s New in Publishing)

The decline of public trust in social media has forced significant changes in how people interact with online news. On one hand, writes Esther Kezia Thorpe, it’s driven down trust in news that is shared on social media; on the other, it’s created a reason for news orgs to bypass social media and connect directly with their audiences. The use of private messaging apps, a response to the lack of trust in open social platforms, has grown so much that some publishers are using them to distribute content. In another trend, and unrelated to trust, Stories — which can be created in Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp — have now surpassed news feeds as the primary way people share content on social media. In fact, it’s growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing. While some publishers have been able to successfully monetize Stories on SnapChat, Thezia Korpe says not to expect too much from Stories as a steady revenue stream. 


‘News rejection is mostly media’s fault’ (Monday Note)

The most commented-on piece of data from the 2019 Reuters Institute Digital News Report is the growth of people who choose to avoid or even reject news (roughly one-third of news consumers worldwide);  which shows a growing disconnect between the people who produce information and the consumers, writes Frederic Filloux. Another Reuters Institute finding showed that 39% see news coverage as “too negative.” Negativity, oversimplification and a failure to reflect the scope of reality (which Filloux deftly shows in a chart that uses public health fears as an example) is driving people away from news, Filloux argues. “Between the promise of a dark future (environmental or democratic) and the endless finger pointing directly at the reader, there are reasons to leave the news and go to Netflix.”

+ Related: “We have good research that in amping up the threat without actually providing people with things they can do, you end up with fatalism, despair, depression, a sense of paralysis, or a sense of dismissiveness and denial”: Newsrooms disagree on how to cover climate change in a way that doesn’t alienate audiences (New York Times)


Reporter’s food-bank trips highlight issue of low pay in local journalism (Columbia Journalism Review)

“As a full time reporter AND full time freelancer, I frequently patronize two area food banks I have also, at times, had to cover … That’s a mild conflict of interest that could be avoided by a living wage.” When Carroll County Times reporter John Kelvey tweeted this on June 4, it struck a nerve with other Maryland-based journalists struggling to make ends meet — particularly those working for Tribune Publishing, which recently announced a $56 million payout for its shareholders. Members of the Chesapeake News Guild, which is protesting the Tribune payout, have been sharing their financial struggles online. Meanwhile, Kelvey worries that low pay will negatively impact the Carroll County Times’ ability to maintain newsroom staff. As it is, the newsroom is working at a deficit. “None of us at the Carroll County Times are asking to become wealthy being reporters at a local newspaper,” he said. “We’d just like to be able to pay our bills.”

+ Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest shows the power of one newspaper’s investigation (CNN); Klay Thompson’s custom-designed shoes featuring newspaper print sell out quickly (KTVU)