Need to Know: June 7, 2021

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


You might have heard: During the pandemic, PBS cut its staff by 6% (Current)

But did you know: Analysis finds overall declines in station revenue (Current)

An analysis from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) found that revenue for public television and radio stations fell $147 million, a 5% drop, during the 2020 fiscal year, with the biggest losses in underwriting and foundation funding. In response to those losses, CPB’s grantees cut more than 1,000 jobs by January. Individual giving grew by $64 million from the previous year, growth that some station leaders worry was in response to the pandemic and won’t return in the future.

+ Noted: Facebook will suspend Trump for the next two years (Bloomberg)


How a small-town paper is applying conflict mediation skills to its opinion content

Concerned over the increasing animosity and polarization in its opinion pages, The Laconia Daily Sun partnered with the Solutions Journalism Network to train its letter writers in mediation techniques that promote civil dialogue.


How to use data to build a hypothesis (

Many data journalists start with a hypothesis, then use data to prove it and investigate further. This approach, described in this guide from, requires reporters to measure a specific problem, its impact and potential solutions using data that’s available on the topic. Finding that data can be tricky, and many ideas can’t be pursued because data that would prove or disprove them doesn’t exist. But when the data is out there, hypothesis-driven journalism can advance beat reporting and provide readers with greater insight on an issue.

+ How This American Life transformed a print story to audio (Nieman Storyboard)


German antitrust regulator to examine Google News Showcase (Bloomberg)

In recent weeks, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office announced investigations into Google and Amazon, and on Friday, the watchdog agency said it would probe Google News Showcase, a digest of free and paywalled stories. The investigation, which will examine if Google’s terms with publishers are reasonable, follows changes to the regulator that give it greater oversight over digital platforms. Google’s Showcase initially gave German media companies licensing fees in exchange for stories that appear in Google News and search.

+ Related: The European Union launched antitrust investigations into Facebook’s classified-ads service, Marketplace (The Wall Street Journal)


Why apps are a useful tool for retention, but not conversion (Twitter, @pilhofer)

That’s what Aron Pilhofer, a Temple University associate professor, argues in this Twitter thread responding to a piece on the role apps play in building reader loyalty. Pilhofer said that while working at The Guardian, his team struggled to turn readers into app readers, leading him to conclude that app readers are already your most loyal audience members. “Apps don’t cause loyal readers, in other words,” he wrote. He added that although apps have value when it comes to retaining readers, especially for large publications, they’re extremely expensive to build and maintain.


Naomi Osaka ignites a fight over the future of postgame news conferences (The Washington Post)

Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open last week after announcing she wouldn’t participate in post-match news conferences that she said affected her mental health. Ben Strauss writes that power dynamics between reporters and athletes are shifting, as the pandemic has blocked locker room access and athletes increasingly avoid journalists in favor of social media and other self-published platforms. Sports reporter Jane McManus wondered how Osaka’s decision could impact women’s sports, asking: “If she’s not talking to reporters, will there be as much coverage for the next Naomi Osaka?”


FBI withdraws subpoena seeking readers of USA Today story (Politico)

In February, two FBI agents were killed and three were wounded in a shooting near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., leading to a news story from Gannett-owned USA Today. In April, the FBI served Gannett with a subpoena seeking the internet addresses and mobile phone information of those who read the online story during a 35-minute window on the day the shooting took place. Gannett opposed the subpoena in court, arguing it violated the First Amendment and Justice Department policies regarding news media records, and the FBI withdrew its subpoena during the weekend.

+ Related: FBI withdrew its subpoena on the same day the Justice Department announced it would no longer secretly obtain reporters’ records during leak investigations (The Associated Press)