Need to Know: June 6, 2018

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


You might have heard: In July 2016, Pew Research Center found that about six in 10 Americans already felt exhausted by the amount of election coverage

But did you know: Almost seven in 10 Americans have news fatigue today (Pew Research Center)

A sizable portion of Americans are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of news there is, though the sentiment is more common on the right side of the political spectrum, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Almost seven in 10 Americans (68%) feel worn out by the amount of news. Feeling overwhelmed by the news is more common among those who follow the news less closely than among those who are avid consumers. While a majority of those who follow the news most of the time (62%) are feeling worn out by the news, a substantially higher portion (78%) of those who less frequently get news say they are fatigued by the amount of it that they see.

+ Noted: Wall Street Journal’s EIC Gerard Baker is stepping down and will be replaced by current executive editor Matt Murray (News Corp); Apply by June 17 to attend ASNE’s Emerging Leaders Institutes in Miami or Detroit (American Society of News Editors); Thomson Reuters names Brian Peccarelli and Neil Masterson as its co-chief operating officers as part of a reorg, which also sees four execs leaving (Reuters); Florida judge rules BuzzFeed can claim “fair reporting privilege” for its post about the Russia dossier in a libel case brought by tech exec Aleksej Gubarev (Politico); Deal falls through for Michael Ferro to sell stake in Tronc to McCormick Media (Chicago Tribune); Independent music journalist Zachary Stoner killed in Chicago (Committee to Protect Journalists)


How systems thinking can transform journalism (Journalism + Design, The New School)

Systems thinking is a mechanism for seeing a system as a set of forces, connections, and evolutionary properties that make up the whole. How can journalists apply systems thinking? In local crime for example, the news will tell you what happened: a homicide was committed, adding to a growing list of murders so far this year. Of course, the story of causes and effects is bigger than that. Isolated news dispatches themselves may not adequately connect the various forces that led to that particular crime. What would a story look like if it addressed these trends over time? If communities are only given information about the tip of the iceberg, they risk being unable to understand the deeper, larger mass that is obscured beneath the surface.

+ As hurricane season begins, here are tips for covering them (Poynter)


How German publisher Spiegel is experimenting beyond the metered paywall to drive reader revenue (Digiday)

The pivot to paid has many variations. German publisher Spiegel is taking an approach that’s somewhere between a paywall and a metered system. Spiegel+ makes approximately 100 articles available to subscribers and scatters them throughout the site. The goal: to drive subscriptions based on reader interest in individual stories, rather than risk losing readers by asking them to subscribe too fast. Spiegel Online makes the majority of its revenue — about 99 percent of it — from online advertising, according to Spiegel Online CEO Jesper Doub. But the publisher recognizes it must diversify its revenue streams to guarantee long-term sustainability.

+ Australian, Aftenposten and Politico Pro talk paid content model decisions (International News Media Association); UK trade body Association for Online Publishing, which represents Condé Nast and The Guardian, says its members lost £13.7M due to ad-blocking in 2017 (Press Gazette); Russian court sentences Ukrainian reporter Roman Sushchenko to 12 years in prison on spying charges; his lawyer says case was fabricated for political reasons (Reuters)


The social network employers love to raid (Bloomberg)

Piazza Technologies Inc. is largely unknown by the general public but familiar to almost anyone who’s studied computer science in the past few years. Some 2.5 million students use the free website to ask and answer one another’s questions about computers, engineering, math, and science, all under the supervision of their professors. Seven years in, Piazza says 98 percent of computer science students at the top 50 universities access its site. In late 2016 the company launched Piazza Careers, where companies pay for access to students who opt in; they can see if a student was ranked a top participant in a class on the site, and they can narrow searches to, say, teaching assistants for artificial intelligence classes who are graduating in 2018. Piazza says 90 percent of the messages companies send to students get opened. The career feature is particularly appealing to companies that need tech talent but aren’t necessarily on students’ radar.

+ Instagram may soon allow posted videos to be up to an hour long, has talked with content creators and publishers about producing long-form videos (Wall Street Journal); Facebook tests Lip Sync Live feature to compete with and says users can now upload videos with copyrighted music (TechCrunch)


A conciliatory News Guild settles for small victories as the industry shrinks (Poynter)

In late summer 2016, small newsrooms at the Lakeland Ledger and Sarasota Herald Tribune successfully organized chapters of the News Guild. Rick Edmonds asks, what results do they have to show nearly two years later? In December, the expanding GateHouse chain agreed to a 1 percent raise for their 18 Guild properties this September and another 1.7 percent in September 2019. Also, the employee-paid share of health benefits was frozen for 2018. As victories go, this one was modest. Still the leaders of the organizing drives at the two papers, told Edmonds that the small win was welcome. Under three different owners, neither had gotten a raise in more than 10 years.

+ “I was a liberal who worked at Fox News. Here’s what that taught me about arguing politics” (Time)


Who’s the boss? (Columbia Journalism Review)

The editors of 135 of the country’s biggest English-language newspapers are a well-educated bunch: Almost a third have an advanced degree, and they attended private high schools at nearly twice the national rate. But the idea that they’re all coastal parachuters is a myth. Many still work in the same area where they grew up or graduated.

+ 5 years ago, Edward Snowden changed journalism (Columbia Journalism Review); After writing about a person running a big anti-Muslim Twitter account, HuffPost’s Luke O’Brien was suspended on Twitter, and he and colleagues were threatened (Huffington Post); Study finds that Apple News’s human editors favor a few major newsrooms (Columbia Journalism Review)