Need to Know: May 20, 2022


After last week’s mass shooting in Buffalo, where one local journalist was killed, both right-wing news outlets and social media companies have come under scrutiny for spreading the “Great Replacement theory” that inspired the gunman. Fox News — and particularly Tucker Carlson — have pushed this theory, which alleges that non-white immigrants are coming to “replace” white Americans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Fox News executives to stop amplifying the idea, while others have called for social platforms to remove all references to it. (The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times)


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

Good things happened when Honolulu Civil Beat dropped its paywall and went to donations instead. Most of the outlet’s subscribers converted to donors, and on average, they donated twice as much as they had been paying before. (Poynter)

Introducing the Statewide News Collective. The collective, which launches with 24 pilot organizations, will provide resources and support for publications focusing on statewide issues. (The Lenfest Institute)

Digital news subscriptions top 30 million across largest publishers. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have more than 14 million subscriptions between them. (Press Gazette)


API is hosting Ask Me Anything: Product Strategy TODAY

Are you curious about the Product Strategy team at the American Press Institute? We are currently hiring for a Web Applications Engineer and also are interested in expanding our network of people who work at the intersection of journalism and technology. Whether you’re interested in our open position or just want to learn how product strategy is evolving at API to better support the journalism industry, we’d love to connect with you. In the session, you will meet the Product Strategy team at API, learn how our news products have evolved and what we’re working on now and hear from our Senior Applications Engineer about the ways we are using and building technology to support journalism. You’ll also be able to ask us any questions about our open position or what it’s like to work on this team. The session is today at 12 p.m. — join us by RSVPing to this session here.

How The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reaching Black audiences through its Unapologetically ATL newsletter (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution created its Unapologetically ATL newsletter to better reach the city’s Black community, which had been underrepresented among the paper’s readers. The free weekly newsletter, which highlights Black culture, events, news and trends in metro Atlanta, was launched in September 2021. Its interactive content, combined with a simple sign-up and robust social media promotion, generated 1,000 subscribers by the end of launch week, and the newsletter now has about 5,000 subscribers. It has also sparked “healthy conversations about race, culture and identity.” 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 surveys and metrics can help you better understand and serve your community

The Arizona Daily Star’s mission is to inform and reflect its diverse Tucson community with deep, impactful journalism. But its subscriber base isn’t reflective of Tucson’s community, which is more than 40 percent Hispanic. To better understand the interests of the local Hispanic community and its news consumption habits, The Star launched a community survey in both English and Spanish, partnering with local groups to help distribute the survey as widely as possible. Combined with data from API’s analytics tool, Metrics for News, the responses will help inform all news beats, as well as product development. “In sharing the overall findings from the surveys, we are working to instill in the newsroom that the effort to serve our Latino community isn’t limited to our Spanish-language publication, or to a beat reporter assigned to amplify the diverse voices of our community, but something that can be done on all beats,” said Alexis Huicochea, The Star’s business, metro and features team leader.


+ GOP-led legislation would force breakup of Google’s ad business (The Wall Street Journal)

+ Columbia’s Jelani Cobb: ‘Everything is on the table.’ (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ What it takes to sustain independent media globally (International Journalists’ Network)

+ “Our mandate was to take the biggest possible swings”: With the wind out of its sails, a battered BuzzFeed News forges on (Vanity Fair)