Need to Know: June 14, 2016

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


You might have heard: Digital advertising revenue across all digital entities (beyond just news) continues to grow, with technology companies playing a large role in the flow of both news and revenue (Pew Research)

But did you know: Print circulation, revenue and employment are all down at U.S. newspapers — but digital revenue increased (Pew Research)

Pew Research’s annual newspapers fact sheet shows that, accounting for digital circulation booms at The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, weekday digital circulation rose 10 percent from 2016 to 2017. Unique visitors stayed about the same in that time frame, “making this the first year since we began tracking the trend that did not show a double-digit rise in web traffic.” Average time per visit also stayed the same. However, revenue from digital advertising went up. In 2011, it made up 17 percent of newspaper ad revenue. In 2016, it made up 29 percent, and in 2017, it made up 31 percent.

+ Related: “Taken as a whole, [Pew’s] report shows further evidence of an embattled industry. But pull some of those individual news organizations out, and you get a more nuanced picture” (Poynter)

+ Noted: Comcast offers $65 billion all-cash bid for most of 21st Century Fox (CNNMoney); CNN President Jeff Zucker quietly renewed his contract through the 2020 election several months ago (Vanity Fair); Hearst adds two-person investigative unit to its Washington D.C. bureau (Broadcasting & Cable); Three Sinclair stations have been sold at an estimated 90 percent discount to make way for it to purchase Tribune Media (Politico); Twitter wants to send you personalized news notifications (The Next Web); Adblock Plus wants to use blockchain to call out fake news (TechCrunch)


How small newsrooms can do big work (Poynter)

Local newsrooms are still doing great work, despite having news deserts, some bad owners and the never-ending slog of layoffs and buyouts and pivots and right-sizings, writes Kristen Hare. For example, after Hurricane Harvey left local government leaders scrambling to coordinate volunteers, find shelter for displaced residents and deal with the fact that the city’s 67,000 residents didn’t have running water, The Victoria Advocate in Texas wanted to examine what went right and wrong. The challenges were juggling a lot of stories, local government reporter Marina Riker said, and lack of data on property damage. “Several months later, my colleagues ended up surveying all of the city’s apartment complexes and found that one-third of the units were damaged. But we still don’t know exactly how many people were displaced or the number of homes damaged throughout the city.”

+ Betting on the success of local journalism (Columbia Journalism Review); Civil promises that you don’t have to care about blockchain to care about what it’s doing (Nieman Lab)


A new digital news report shows an ever-evolving global news industry (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)

“This year’s report contains signs of hope for the news industry following the green shoots that emerged 12 months ago,” writes research associate Nic Newman. “And yet these changes are fragile, unevenly distributed, and come on top of many years of digital disruption, which has undermined confidence of both publishers and consumers.” The survey found that the move to distributed content via social media and aggregators has been halted — or is even starting to reverse, while subscriptions are increasing in a number of countries. Meanwhile notions of trust and quality are being incorporated into the algorithms of some tech platforms — as they respond to political and consumer demands to fix the reliability of information in their systems.

+ How the BBC made its 2018 World Cup trailer entirely out of tapestries (The Guardian)


5 things you should never tell your boss and what to say instead (Fast Company)

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a great boss or have an uncomfortably rocky relationship with your manager, it pays to put some thought into your interactions, writes Maurie Backman. The language you use with your boss could end up dictating whether you get promoted, end up on the chopping block, or fall somewhere in between. With that in mind, here are five phrases you should make an effort to avoid uttering to your boss — even if they seem appropriate on the spot.

+ Next month Facebook will require businesses using its Custom Audiences ad tool to declare whether contact information was gained with user consent (TechCrunch)


The same federal judge approved two of media’s biggest mergers (Columbia Journalism Review)

“Judge Richard J. Leon, first appointed to Washington DC’s district court by George W. Bush in 2002, is now among the most important figures in the history of American communications,” writes Sam Thielman. “In 2011, he created the media world’s version of Godzilla by approving the acquisition of NBCUniversal by Comcast, the largest provider of cable and internet service in the country, under conditions imposed by the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. Yesterday, he created Mothra. Leon’s approval of cable, phone, and internet company AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner, a media giant that has had many suitors over the years, is all the things you’d expect from vertical media consolidation: It’s likely bad for newcomers to film, TV, cable distribution, cell phones, and sundry other businesses the two companies have devoured over the years.”

+ How do news audiences actually feel about Elon Musk-style credibility scores? (Poynter)


Podcast revenue seems to be growing fast enough for everyone to get a slice of the pie (Nieman Lab)

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has released its second annual podcast revenue study, which gives a clear baseline on the size of the podcast ad business. The American podcast industry brought in an estimated $314 million in advertising revenue in 2017, up 86 percent from the $169 million reported the year before. It beat projections established in the previous revenue study, which predicted that the ad business would grow to around $220 million in 2017. Although that is a large jump for podcast advertising relative to itself, it’s still a small number compared to other (far older and more consolidated) media industries. Commercial radio brought in $17.6 billion in advertising last year.

+ A behind-the-scenes look at the North Korea summit and journalists’ efforts to ask Kim Jong Un about denuclearization (Los Angeles Times)