Need to Know: March 22, 2021

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


You might have heard: In the past, Facebook has received criticism for allowing extremist groups on the platform (BuzzFeed News)

But did you know: Facebook’s moderation system has targeted political cartoons (The New York Times)

Facebook is taking a more hands-on approach to policing political posts that advocate for violence, but sometimes political cartoons and other satire have gotten caught in the company’s moderation crosshairs. Facebook and its image-sharing app, Instagram, removed cartoons lambasting far-right extremists and gun violence, ironically claiming the material promoted violence. AI systems and even human moderators have had trouble identifying satire, and Facebook said in a statement that it only allows posts about hate groups and extremist content if they clearly condemn or neutrally discuss them.

+ Noted: AAJA released a pronunciation guide for Asian victims of the Atlanta shootings (AAJA); The Times-Picayune and Advocate launched the Louisiana Fund for Investigative Journalism (Editor and Publisher)


What news publishers do to retain subscribers

API surveyed news publishers across the United States to find out what they are — and aren’t — doing to retain subscribers and decrease churn. Nine key retention strategies emerged, as well as several areas where many publishers say they need help. 

+ Contact Gwen Vargo, API’s director of reader revenue, to get help with your own news organization’s subscriber retention efforts


How to grow readership by better serving younger audiences (International News Media Association)

Amedia is one of Norway’s largest media companies, but a small portion of its audience is younger than 40. So when a new, younger group of readers kept flocking to its local news sites during the pandemic, the company aimed to capitalize on the opportunity. To increase its share of readers in their 30s, Amedia’s journalists began using younger sources and writing stories meant to draw a younger audience. Those stories and culture coverage, in particular, led to more engagement from younger readers.


UK publisher tells most journalists to permanently work from home (The Guardian)

Reach, the owner of the Daily Mirror and hundreds of regional newspapers in the United Kingdom and Ireland, plans to close the offices for dozens of its papers in mid-sized towns to save money. The company will no longer require three-fourths of its staff to work in person, and staff affected by office closures must travel to a hub office in the nearest large city if they want to work in a newsroom. According to a survey from Reach, 70% of the company’s employees missed seeing their colleagues in person, but most said they didn’t need to be in an office to do their jobs.


Does your office have a jargon problem? (Harvard Business Review)

Jargon can make workplace communication more efficient and precise, while reinforcing a shared identity. Research suggests that jargon also can be used to signal status and that people outside of an industry may find it alienating, superficial or difficult to follow. In some cases, using jargon can suggest the speaker has expertise and credibility, but when communicating with a broad audience, it can lead to misunderstandings. Three researchers recommend high-level workers set the tone by using clearer language that could be adopted across their company.

+ Earlier: How journalists can use direct language when explaining journalistic terms and processes to audiences (Trusting News)

+ Google, Facebook and Amazon now collect more than half of all ad dollars spent in the United States (The Wall Street Journal)


Why some writers are frustrated with Substack (Vox)

Most Substack writers don’t get bonus payments from the platform, which usually receives 10% of the subscription revenue for each newsletter. To lure some high-profile writers onto the platform, Substack has given them six-figure, one-time payments, and some are calling on the company to identify who has received these advances. For some writers with large subscriber bases, these arrangements have actually been less lucrative than what they would have received without the advance. Former Vox writer Matt Yglesias received a $250,000 advance and just 15% of his newsletter’s revenue for the first year. That meant he could have earned $775,000 for the year with no advance and a 90% revenue cut, compared to the $380,000 combined payment and revenue he expects to receive this year.


Uproot Project launches to support environmental journalists of color (Nieman Lab)

The Uproot Project is a collective network dedicated to advancing the careers of journalists from underrepresented communities. When the project launches later in March, some of its main goals will be to provide tools, training and workshops to journalists of color. Yessenia Funes, a steering committee member for the group and Atmos Magazine’s climate editor, said that climate coverage tends to lack the perspective of vulnerable communities or may diminish them to a narrative that excludes their work to address climate change. “That comes from a lack of understanding from any of these reporters or editors who may not have their own connections to these communities,” Funes said.