Need to Know: May 22, 2020


You might have heard: Local news is dying, and Americans have no idea (The Atlantic)

But did you know:

Coronavirus patterns make local news even more important (CJR)

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the U.S., it’s becoming clear that the virus affects different communities in different ways. For journalists, that means coverage of the disease, lockdowns and other pandemic-related issues will — and should — vary widely from place to place. No national news outlet can accurately cover the experience of the pandemic everywhere, nor can it provide the most critical and useful information for most people, making local coverage by local journalists more important than ever.

+ Noted: The Atlantic lays off almost 20% of staff (Axios); Poynter launches ‘Locally,’ an online journalism news site and resource center (Poynter); The New York Times releases its 2019 diversity and inclusion report (The New York TImes Company); The Washington Post’s Zeus Performance revenue technology partners with Local Media Consortium (The Washington Post); The Online News Association will hold its annual conference online in October (ONA)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

How we perceive the curve of COVID-19 infections, how QAnon’s conspiracy theories have spread, and science journalists are fighting back against false claims about the coronavirus. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


Newsletter publisher 6AM City had its highest-grossing revenue month ever in April (Not a Newsletter)

6AM City, which publishes seven local newsletters in the Southeast, has taken advantage of native ad network Media Mobilize to monetize their newsletters from day one. With native ads for national brands bringing in money early, the chain can then spend money expanding their reach, which in turn leads to local sponsorships. 6AM has been focusing on building relationships with essential businesses like contractors and grocers who are still operating and providing services during the pandemic.


BBC faces £125 million in lost income over COVID-19 as it reveals surging audience for news coverage (Press Gazette)

Like many news organizations around the world, the BBC is suffering from a drop in income despite a gain in audience for news coverage. While viewership of TV programming and readership of digital news have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, the government-backed organization says it will need to find £125 million ($153 million) in lost income this year. Original plans to cut 450 jobs have been put on the hold as the organization restructures its news departments to cover the pandemic.


Spotify’s Joe Rogan deal could change the podcast business forever (Fortune)

Earlier this week, Spotify announced an exclusive deal with podcast superstar Joe Rogan reportedly worth $100 million. The deal could indicate that the future of podcasts is subscriptions, rather than the open-platform model that most use now, which generates revenue from a combination of ads, crowdfunding and merchandise. It also means that successful podcasters may be looking for licensing deals as other platforms, like Google and Apple, attempt to compete with the growing podcast juggernaut that is Spotify.

+ ViacomCBS’s upfront pitch to advertisers: We won’t bludgeon people with the same ad (Digiday)

+ Coronavirus shutdowns weigh on book sales (The New York Times)


To cover the pandemic’s slow pace, news outlets may have to get more comfortable with repetition (Nieman Lab)

With the massive uncertainty surrounding almost everything during the coronavirus pandemic, Michael J. Socolow argues that journalists are so eager to latch onto any tangible piece of information that they end up amplifying trivial data points or being manipulated by bad actors. Reporters are used to advancing a story, but progress surrounding COVID-19 doesn’t move at the pace of the 24-hour news cycle. That leaves news organizations struggling to find novel stories to write, even when the truth is that everything is the same as yesterday.


Community news media, a ‘lifeline’ for Latino families, now under threat by coronavirus (NBC News)

Brenda Murphy, a bilingual journalist covering New Orleans for her bimonthly paper Jambalaya News, says she’s been flooded with questions since the pandemic started. Murphy, who is originally from Honduras, started the paper to help the area’s growing Latin American population keep up with local news in their native Spanish. Like other community news outlets around the country, Jambalaya News is trying to squeak by on a shoestring budget while providing essential information to its readers.


+ Community ties: Understanding what attaches people to the place where they live (Knight Foundation)

+ One year ago, the staff of the Times-Picayune got laid off. Here’s where they are now. (Poynter)

+ Tuned out: Andy Lack and MSNBC’s identity crises (CJR)

+ How “60 Minutes” survived CBS upheaval to become “the Tony Fauci of newsmagazines” (The Washington Post)