Need to Know: June 30, 2021


You might have heard: The pandemic hit newspapers hard (Poynter) 

But did you know: Between 2019 and 2020, newspaper circulation declined, but circulation revenue beat advertising revenue (Pew Research Center)

Pew Research Center’s latest State of the News Media Report finds that daily newspaper circulation, including print and digital, dropped 6% between 2019 and 2020. Print-only circulation dropped significantly — 19% for weekday and 14% for Sunday — while digital subscriptions grew by at least 26%. However, these numbers don’t include full data from three of the country’s largest newspapers, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, due to discrepancies in data reporting. Total advertising revenue from newspapers in 2020 was $8.8 billion, down 29% from 2019. Circulation revenue was up slightly, from $11 billion to $11.1 billion, the first year in Pew’s research that circulation revenue has topped ad revenue. Since 2021, median wages for newsroom employees have remained flat. 

+ Related: Pew’s State of the News Media project also looks at audio and podcasting as well as public broadcasting (Pew Research Center) 

+ Noted: The Annenberg and Knight foundations will provide $6 million to support a Fallen Journalists Memorial in D.C. (Axios); Early-bird tuition applications for The Emerging Leaders Institute for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion ends today (News Leaders Association) 


Are you considering a project to better support local audiences in your government and accountability reporting? API wants to help!

As part of our Ideas-to-Action Series, you can submit a brief project description before Monday, July 12 to receive feedback and suggestions from experts at API and Outlier Media, Documented, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. We’ll also host a Q&A and small group discussion to workshop project ideas on Wednesday, July 14 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. ET. You can register for that conversation here. Following the event, we’ll open our call for proposals to receive project funding, up to $10,000, to help implement your idea.

+ Trust Tip: How to build trust into feature reporting as well as hard news stories (Trusting News) 

+ Reporters: Are you making an effort to include new, more diverse sources in your stories? Let us know how by replying to this email. 


LAist answers readers’ questions about new series on homelessness (LAist) 

In a new series called Pushed Out, LAist focused on the connection between domestic violence and homelessness in Southern California. Reporters compiled an article of potential reader questions about the series, such as “Why does the series focus on women survivors?” and “What were you hoping your reporting would achieve?” This gives readers a sense of the backstory of the series, including the grant funding that made it possible, the trauma-informed reporting techniques that were used, and a list of data sources used in the series. 

+ Earlier: How to use simple “transparency sidebars” in your reporting to proactively address readers’ questions (Trust Tip) 


An online magazine looks to bring independent journalism back to Eritrea (Columbia Journalism Review)

Vanessa Tsehaye is the 24-year-old niece of Seyoum Tsehaye, an Eritrean photojournalist who has been jailed since 2001 for publishing reporting critical of the government. Based in Sweden, she and other volunteers working to free political prisoners in Eritrea began developing a social media campaign to document the last 20 years in the country, when independent journalism has been banned. Eventually, the campaign transformed into an online magazine that features investigative work, interviews, essays, art and poetry that explore the past, present and future of the country. The publication is unlikely to be read by many in Eritrea due to government censorship; its primary audience is Eritreans abroad. Tsehaye says she hopes to produce annual issues to “mobilize the diaspora.” 


Returning to the office? Compassionate language is more important than ever (Fast Company) 

After a year of teleworking and Zoom meetings, social worker Kara Lissy writes that communicating with empathy is crucial as employees return to the office. For managers, using this type of language can help employees internalize this language and use it with their colleagues. Lissy suggests phrases like “I appreciate what you said about…,” which convey that you’re actively listening and seeking to understand the other person. On the other hand, she writes, a seemingly kind sentence like “I know how you feel” can have a detrimental effect, making the other person feel like you’re avoiding addressing their specific needs. 

+ Instagram tests letting anyone share a link in stories (The Verge) 


Can journalism wean itself off the cheap clicks of bad crime coverage? (Politico) 

“If it bleeds, it leads” has been a motto of tabloid newspapers for well over a century, writes Jack Shafer, but now newspapers are assessing their crime coverage to ensure that minor transgressions don’t haunt a person online forever. Shafer writes that the impulse is admirable, but that simply eliminating all past references to arrests or minor crimes isn’t in the public good. He writes that a better model is that of The Bangor Daily News, which will pull old crime stories off Google searches, but keep them on its own website. And ideally, Shafer argues, news outlets should make a point of following through on crime coverage, so that internet searches will tell a complete story, not an account of an isolated incident. 


Major news outlets are running a tobacco company’s ads on their websites (Media Nation) 

Over the weekend, The Boston Globe ran a piece of sponsored content paid for by tobacco company Philip Morris, under the byline of a vice president at the company. Dan Kennedy writes that other major news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Reuters, have run other pieces by Philip Morris, touting “a smoke-free future” that promote the relative safety of e-cigarettes over traditional smoking. Most major news outlets stopped accepting cigarette advertisements decades ago, and Kennedy argues that, considering the tobacco industry’s history of targeting teens with their vaping products, news outlets should refrain from collaborating with tobacco companies.