Need to Know: May 16, 2019

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


You might have heard: “Clickbait” news headlines can lead to negative assumptions about the article’s informativeness and clarity (Center for Media Engagement)

But did you know: ‘Outrage news’ increases perceptions of fake news and decreases meaningful engagement (Center for Media Engagement)

A new study from the Center for Media Engagement found that “outrage news” — news that covers emotional content, such as insults and name-calling, verbal sparring, exaggeration, extreme partisanship, and obscenity — can lessen a news outlet’s credibility in the eyes of readers and reduce meaningful engagement. In the study, participants reviewed articles from a fictional news source called The News Beat. When participants read outrage articles, which focused on things like politicians trading insults and refusing to make progress on issues, they were more likely to agree with the statement that The News Beat could be “fake news.” Participants who saw outrage headlines were also less likely to say they would click or comment on the article, pay for the article, or even return to the news site. However, the study also found that people were more likely to remember facts from outrage articles.

+ Noted: First round of applications for the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, which will connect local news orgs with industry experts to complete specific projects, are due May 27 (Facebook Journalism Project); White House launches tool to report censorship on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter (The Verge); Facebook to restrict livestream feature for policy violators (NBC)


Trust Tip: Earn trust face to face, one on one (Trusting News)

“Each time we talk to someone face to face — while officially on the job or otherwise — we have an opportunity to be an ambassador for our profession,” writes Joy Mayer, director of Trusting News. “Our newsrooms have staff members who interact with, collectively, a lot of people every day. How can we all use those interactions to help correct misconceptions and share the value of what we do?” This edition of the Trust Tips newsletter suggests ways to respond to common complaints (accusations of liberal bias and “Fake news!”) that journalists commonly receive in face-to-face interactions. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


How attracting members is different from attracting subscribers (Chartbeat)

Members of a news organization are typically looking to take a more active role in the organization’s mission, says Emily Goligoski, researcher director of the Membership Puzzle Project. Goligoski distinguishes the term “subscriber,” which is more transactional in nature, from “member,” a supporter who contributes time, money, ideas, connections and/or skills to the organization to which they belong. Asking members to contribute their expertise to a story, for example, or participate in a crowdsourced investigation, are outreach methods that tend to resonate the most with them — and with readers who are considering membership.


BBC claims success in efforts to improve on-air gender balance (The Guardian)

The BBC’s 50:50 Project, only a year old, has spurred producers across the network to achieve gender balance in the guests they book. When the project launched, just 27 percent of the 70 programs that joined the effort (participation is voluntary) had an equal balance of male and female guests. That number has since gone up to 74 percent. “It’s amazing to see such a remarkable change in just a year; you can see and hear it right across our programming,” said Director General Tony Hall.

+ Earlier: The 50:50 Project is the brainchild of BBC anchor Ros Atkins, who credits part of its success to how his team initially framed the project to colleagues. “We established one clear rule: the best guest always go on air. This would not be journalism by quota, it would be an effort to improve our contacts and to identify subjects where we almost always talked to men and find some brilliant women as alternatives.” (Poynter)


The biggest threat to a company is how managers treat people, says an exec coach (Business Insider)

Managers have huge impacts on turnover and engagement, but some research shows they have an even bigger influence on their employees. A Gallup poll found that the right manager can improve productivity by a colossal 70 percent. Author Erica Keswin outlined ways that managers can tap into that potential, from modeling company values and recognizing employees who do the same to fostering employees’ professional development. Keswin writes that “managers need to keep in mind what they’re bringing people together for, and it’s definitely not milling around together in the same room. It’s genuine connection.”


Can nonprofit ownership be an answer to the crisis facing local newspapers? (WGBH News)

The Salt Lake Tribune shed a third of its newsroom staff in harrowing cutbacks last year, but Utah’s largest daily newspaper has a solution: Go nonprofit. Dan Kennedy, an associate journalism professor at Northeastern University, laid out the main advantage of the nonprofit model – the ability to shift away from a business plan that is hooked on advertising revenue, which has been in freefall for years. Similar arrangements are not unprecedented, such as the Lenfest Institute for Journalism’s ownership of the for-profit Philadelphia Inquirer or strictly nonprofit outfits like the New Haven Independent. “It’s worth finding out if it might work for large regional newspapers as well,” Kennedy wrote.

+ Related: “Local news is not a business anymore” — Observers react to The Salt Lake Tribune going nonprofit (Salt Lake Tribune)

+ We can’t rely on others to tell us what to trust (The News Literacy Project)


Podcasting for the people (Poynter’s The Cohort)

When Kameel Stanley, senior producer of USA TODAY’s “The City” podcast, transitioned from beat reporting to podcasting, she picked up new jargon and found a different approach to writing and interviews. But her biggest takeaways had to do with audience. Newspaper reporters tend to think of their audience as anyone and everyone, Stanley pointed out, but that doesn’t jibe with the demands of a saturated podcast industry or the way that people discover podcasts. Stanley recommends having a clear vision of your audience from the beginning of a project and using design-based thinking to home in on that audience and what they want. Along the way, she found that “podcasting demanded a level of intimacy I wasn’t used to as a journalist. But podcast fans reciprocated with more engagement and loyalty.”

+ New York Times unveils first TV series called “The Weekly” (The Hill)