Need to Know: May 20, 2020


You might have heard: The New York Times is phasing out all third-party advertising data (Axios)

But did you know:

Gannett is planning a combined ad and news-side extravaganza on ‘Rebuilding America’ (Poynter)

Gannett will launch a combined ad sales and news initiative across 260 regional papers. “Rebuilding America” will run on May 30 and 31 and focus on how people and businesses are preparing for a reopening of the economy. Individual newsrooms will provide local content that will pair with national stories, with the goal of selling ads around this “a single moment of impact,” according to an internal memo. Poynter reports that the NewsGuild will write a protest letter to CEO Mike Reed this week, saying that special feature crosses an ethical line by associating editorial and advertising so closely.

+ Related: “Our priority can’t be to sell advertising” – Washington Post rethinks revenues in lockdown (The Drum)

+ Noted: Eric and Wendy Schmidt give $4.7 million grant to NPR Collaborative Journalism Network (NPR); Media cuts weigh on industry morale (Axios)


Trust tip: Demonstrate visual balance in political coverage (Trusting News)

Covering politics is bound to trigger complaints of partisan coverage. One way to cover an issue with multiple sides is to point out to readers that you are working to give all perspectives equal treatment. For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that meant calling attention to a layout choice that explicitly gave equal coverage to both sides of the Trump impeachment. By saying you are talking to “side a” and “side b” and pointing them in the direction of your previous coverage of the issue, you allow your community to recognize the work you are putting in to give them multiple perspectives. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


Four strategies for identifying and assessing news and information needs during the COVID-19 pandemic (Lenfest Institute)

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, newsrooms have an opportunity to provide ongoing and vital information to their communities. In partnership with the Listening Post Collective, the Lenfest Institute offers four tips on identifying and creating news for target audiences. Suggestions include connecting with community leaders, identifying online and offline places where people congregate, safely visiting essential businesses, and asking a lot of questions.

+ Tips for reporters navigating remote-work challenges during the pandemic (Local News Initiative)

+ They’re not “the other,” they’re our readers: How one site shifted from evergreen content to coronavirus news to help its aging audience through the pandemic (Nieman Lab)


How a local radio station in Luxembourg powered its pandemic programming with the help of multilingual volunteers (Poynter)

Radio ARA is an independent news station based in Luxembourg City. With a shoestring budget, the station created a daily COVID-19 news bulletin program with the help of volunteers. The programs were produced in nine different languages to reach speakers of the country’s official languages as well as Spanish, English, Italian, Arabic and more to reach the country’s many immigrant communities.

+ German intelligence can no longer freely spy on the world’s internet traffic, top court rules (Fortune)

+ Hostwriter and the European Journalism Centre launched the COVID-19 Collaboration Wire, which matches reporters and editors around the world (Hostwriter)


How the big consumer apps get their first 1,000 users (Lenny’s Newsletter)

Even the biggest name apps had to start with their first user, and then their first thousand. For some, like Etsy and Tinder, this meant in-person targeting — Etsy at craft fairs, Tinder on college campuses. For other apps, like Netflix and TikTok, it meant finding the online places their audiences already spent time, like forums and fan sites. This list looks at seven strategies that apps used to find and grow their initial audiences.

+ Instagram debuts guides feature with initial focus on wellness and mental health (AdWeek)

+ Twitter talks about bots and platform manipulation (Twitter)


Ronan Farrow, Ben Smith, and the problem of the superstar journalist (CJR)

After Sunday’s media-quaking Ben Smith column accusing Ronan Farrow of “resistance journalism,” Jon Allsop at CJR says the problem with Farrow isn’t his crusadism, it’s his fame. Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen and the partner of former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett, has industry connections and financial resources that have helped him succeed, but his celebrity also puts him on a wobbly pedestal. “The cult of journalistic celebrity tends to ignore context — in Farrow’s case, the editorial and social capital to which he has access — and the crucial fact that high-level journalism is a team sport,” Allsop writes.

+ Related: Karen K. Ho wonders what David Carr would think of the Smith/Farrow kerfuffle (White Guy Confidence)


Publishers are seeing a mini-boom in coronavirus newsletter signups (Digiday)

Coronavirus-specific newsletters have drawn huge audiences since the pandemic began in March. The USA Today Network has 30 COVID-related newsletters in markets across the country, and the company says the newsletters have a 40% open rate. Newsletter ad revenue has grown as well, although not as much as the rise in subscriptions. Now publishers are wondering how to convert pandemic readers to regular audience members. Some are encouraging subscribers to sign up for a main newsletter, while others are developing newsletters that could appeal to the same audience after the pandemic fades.