Need to Know: March 12, 2020


You might have heard: Across the country, McClatchy is consolidating its print operations (Miami Herald)

But did you know: McClatchy has been gradually stopping all its Saturday print editions (Editor & Publisher)

In the effort to gradually move subscribers online, McClatchy newspapers have been targeting their Saturday print editions first. “People have a routine Monday through Friday so messing with that can be very disruptive and Sunday is of course Sunday — you want that Sunday paper — but … when we looked at our business, we found that (Saturday) is the day of the lowest print subscribership,” said Sara Glines, president and publisher for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. and East Region lead for McClatchy. Every McClatchy paper has been following roughly the same 13-week process to shift all Saturday print advertising to other days, and spread out content like comics, puzzles and TV listings to Friday and Sunday.

+ Earlier: Here’s our guide to planning to eliminate print publishing days

+ Noted: One NICAR attendee’s positive test has sent a disruptive ripple through news orgs’ response to coronavirus (Nieman Lab); Poynter is keeping a list of all the journalism and media conferences that are canceled due to coronavirus (Poynter)


How the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel drove subscriptions by asking journalists to promote the value of their work (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Ask the journalists in your newsroom to tell readers about the value of their work and be ambassadors for digital subscriptions on social media. This story is part of a series on Better News that showcases innovative and experimental ideas that emerge from Table Stakes, the newsroom training program; and shares replicable tactics that benefit the news industry as a whole.


How The Washington Post’s homepage redesign is designed to fight subscriber churn (Digiday)

The new design (still only visible to about 20% of visitors) shows off more of the Post’s content. Instead of lists of articles published in each section of the site, each section now gets its own bucket of stories selected by editors. It also features the Post’s opinion writers more prominently, a change prompted by reader feedback. “The No. 1 biggest thing we’re learning in our user research is that people are just really overwhelmed by the amount of information that’s out there,” said Kat Downs Mulder, the Post’s vice president of product. “It’s about making sure the journalism we produce is easy to consume.”

+ 5 practical tips for managing newly remote teams during coronavirus (Medium, WhereByUs); More useful tips for working from home, from members of the LION Publishers community (Medium, LION)


How the Narwhal reports on climate change without alienating conservative readers (Medium, Solutions Journalism Network)

One of Canada’s most contentious issues, particularly in the lead-up to a polarizing election, has been climate change. In Alberta, a conservative province where many communities have been long reliant on oil and gas, voters are particularly resistant to policies designed to transition away from fossil fuels. The Narwhal, an environmental news outlet based in British Columbia, wanted to explore the potential impact of those policies — but it was wary of defaulting to the story line its environmentally-friendly audience might expect, and presenting Alberta as a province of climate-deniers. Instead, reporters dug into Albertans’ complex views on the issue. “One thing I’ve come across a lot in my reporting, this is very common in Alberta, people will say, ‘I support oil and gas, but …’ and the ‘but’ to me is what’s interesting, and it’s a gateway to a much more nuanced conversation,” said reporter Sharon J. Riley.


How to connect with donors of color (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

According to a Blackbaud study conducted a few years ago, white people accounted for nearly three-quarters of donors to charitable organizations. Yet just 60% of the American population is white, and the pool of wealthy donors of color is likely to grow, as U.S. demographics continue to change. Ashindi Maxton, co-founder of the Donors of Color Network, says nonprofits often have trouble connecting to nonwhite donors. It’s not because people of color aren’t interested in their cause, Maxton says, but that they feel disconnected from it. The first step to fixing that, she says, is to recruit more people of color to plan fundraising efforts and otherwise get involved. “If you want to throw the party that they want to come to, you need people planning this party who have the same lived experience as the donors. I just don’t think there’s a shortcut to that.”


The true danger of the Trump campaign’s defamation lawsuits (The Atlantic)

In the past two weeks, the Trump campaign has launched defamation lawsuits against The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. Legally speaking, the suits are frivolous. But they are not designed to win — especially since all three lawsuits target opinion pieces, which are protected by even higher standards for what constitutes defamation than news reports asserting factual claims. “The intention, it seems, is to scare away media outlets from publishing opinion pieces that use particularly critical words to describe his relationship with Russia,” write Joshua Geltzer and Neal Katyal. While unlikely to work on large outlets like the Times or CNN, it could effectively silence smaller news outlets with fewer resources to defend themselves in court, even against frivolous suits that they will most likely win.


How local newsrooms in the U.S. are preparing for sustained coverage of the coronavirus (Poynter)

In cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, local newsrooms are approaching coverage in ways similar to other major breaking events: live news blogs with the latest updates, Q&As that deal in the general and specifics of each place, human stories, and a mission to inform and not alarm. But there’s one way in which the coronavirus is different from other major news stories, says Ray Rivera, managing editor of The Seattle Times: “In a lot of those events, you could foresee that light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Here, we’re just at the beginning.” The newsrooms have been making preparations for long-term remote work, and in some cases, making decisions to bring coronavirus coverage out from behind their paywalls.

+ Related: 5 ways to keep listening when you can’t do it in person (Twitter, @Amplified2020)