Need to Know: June 7, 2018

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


You might have heard: The New York Times has been experimenting with personalization to find new ways to expose readers to stories since the fall (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: The New York Times’ ‘Your Weekly Edition’ is a brand-new newsletter personalized for each recipient (Nieman Lab)

Your Weekly Edition is a three-week-old experimental newsletter that aims to provide readers with a personalized selection of the week’s most important news, analysis and features, using a mix of editorial curation and algorithms. One goal is to show a reader only things that they haven’t read already. Here’s how the Times explains it: After choosing the most timely and impactful stories and commentary of the past seven days, editors group them into three sets: Best of The Times, news you might have missed, opinion commentary, and features highlights. Once these sets are populated, The Times algorithmically selects the articles for a given reader based on what they have read as well as stories that other Times readers found interesting.

+ Noted: The New Yorker’s editorial staff is unionizing with the NewsGuild of New York (New York Magazine) and Fast Company is unionizing with the Writers Guild of America East (Crain’s New York); Facebook partners with seven news orgs, including ABC News, CNN, and Fox News, to roll out a series of news shows on Facebook Watch this summer (Variety); Fresno State launches Institute for Media and Public Trust (Fresno State); Snap hires Flipboard’s ex-head of publisher partnerships to lead its newly created support team for publishers and YouTube seems to be planning (and hiring for) a new “news initiative” (Digiday); Al Jazeera is shutting down its San Francisco office, which housed AJ+ (San Francisco Chronicle)

API Update

Welcome API’s summer fellow Gonzalo del Peon: Expanding reader revenue beyond subscriptions and helping newsrooms study what audiences need

As newsrooms continue to diversify their revenue, how can they expand the possibilities of audience revenue beyond paywalls? As business models rely more and more on audiences directly, how can newsrooms foster a culture of listening to their users as customers who have needs to be met? API’s 2018 summer fellow, Gonzalo del Peon, will be working on a two-part resource focused on helping news organizations identify reader revenue opportunities.


5 ways your small newsroom can make big projects manageable (Poynter)

If you’re a journalist in a local newsroom, particularly a very small ones, KristenHare says she gets it if you want to roll your eyes at the prospect of doing bigger projects. The combination of layoffs and round-the-clock reporting is exhausting. But it is possible to do the cool things you see bigger newsrooms doing, Hare writes, like interactives, longform narratives, investigations, stunning photojournalism, immersive podcasts, critical breaking news or revelatory documentaries. Hare spoke with Sara Baranowski, editor of the Iowa Falls Times-Citizen, about breaking down big ideas.

+ How The New York Times uses software to identify members of Congress in photos (Times Open)


Spurned by Facebook’s News Feed, Guatemala’s Nómada prepares for a more independent future (Nieman Lab)

When Facebook announced the News Feed changes affecting publishers worldwide, several news groups were not surprised. The wake-up call for publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka had come last fall with the Explore test, an experiment that moved Page posts to a separate “Explore” News Feed altogether. “It was an issue we [had been] avoiding addressing: we were too dependent on Facebook,” said Martín Rodríguez Pellecer, the editor in chief and founder of Guatemalan investigative outlet Nómada. “At the beginning, we were very upset. But at the end, we can thank it because it exploded the bubble we were living in.”

+ Daily Mail’s Paul Dacre to step down in November as editor and will serve as chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers (The Independent)


How companies are coming of age digitally (MIT Sloan Management Review)

Many companies are beginning to make the necessary changes to adapt their organization to a digital environment. Based on a global survey of more than 4,300 managers, executives, and analysts and 17 interviews with executives and thought leaders, MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte’s study shows that the digital business environment is fundamentally different from the traditional one. Digitally maturing companies recognize the differences and are evolving how they learn and lead in order to adapt and succeed in a rapidly changing market.


The end of the ad world as we know it (Nieman Reports)

When Jim VandeHei left as CEO of Politico in 2016 to start Axios, he assailed the “crap trap” of “trashy clickbait” designed to attract more page views and satisfy advertisers. The “trap” was set by a reliance on ads. For Axios to produce quality journalism, he said, “readers will have to pay up and if they need and love the product, they will, and gladly so.” The thoughts are noble, and the analysis of what often ails advertising-supported content is correct. But the economics don’t support the noble idea, says Auletta, ex media reporter for the New Yorker in his latest book “Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else).” Roughly 90 percent of Axios’s revenue comes from corporate sponsorships, or from advertisers who are granted a paragraph and often a picture embedded in article content, Auletta says.

+ Farai Chideya on NYT coverage of Kate Spade: “The class-based assumptions in the writing are staggering” (Twitter, Farai Chideya)


CBS’s David Begnaud on covering Puerto Rico when few others did (Columbia Journalism Review)

Just 48 hours before the start of hurricane season, CBS Correspondent David Begnaud was back in Puerto Rico, reporting about a Harvard study that estimates the number of deaths linked to Hurricane Maria at more than 4,000. Begnaud made a name for himself by relentlessly covering the island when few others did, before, during, and in the months after the devastating hurricane that hit the island and other parts of the Caribbean last summer.

+ Related: After new death toll report last Friday, Sunday TV ignored Puerto Rico (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ What we don’t know about diversity in newsrooms (Women’s Media Center); Calling all news nerds: Come work with us and make Quackbot amazing (Medium, Aron Pilhofer)