Need to Know: May 24, 2022


You might have heard: Medill survey respondents say their news organizations are making diversity efforts (Medill Local News Initiative) 

But did you know: How the current wave of more inclusive leadership is changing newsrooms (The Hollywood Reporter)

In the last two years, newsrooms have made concerted efforts to diversify leadership at all ranks, which have led to changes in coverage as well. Javier Morgado, the executive producer of CNN’s At This Hour, said he made a point of always including a Black woman on the panel during coverage of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. “We were looking at a mostly white Senate question this woman, it was so important to hear a Black woman process the same thing you and I were hearing,” Morgado told Rebecca Sun.


+ Noted: Stamp for Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham to join Distinguished Americans series June 14 (Linn’s Stamp News); Weather Channel live-stream makes cable network ready for cord-cutters (Variety) 


Three Metrics for News case studies to learn from 

Here are three data-driven strategies publishers can learn from. The Arizona Star used reader and community surveys to better understand and serve its Spanish-reading audience — information that will inform beat reporting and product development alike. The Chattanooga Times conducted two mini-experiments to shake up its event and entertainment coverage and learn new ways to connect with its community and engage younger readers. Automotive News used LinkedIn’s live feature to engage and attract a new professional audience beyond its core auto industry readers. These case studies are derived from a recent cohort hosted by Metrics for News that brought together publishers from around the world to look at ways to reach new audiences. 


The Texas Tribune launches a new text line 2022 election news and resources (The Texas Tribune) 

The Texas Tribune is bringing back its texting news service — previously used during the pandemic and the 2021 winter storm — to help Texans navigate the 2022 primaries and general elections. María Méndez writes that the service offers “all the must-know news about state and federal elections in Texas through weekly texts, and a venue to send your questions.” In the announcement, Méndez explains that the outlet uses the company Subtext to manage the text line, and that user data is not sold to third parties. “Our goals now are to create a two-way street to share essential election information,” she writes. 

+ Reader comments on news sites: Nieman Lab wants to hear what your publication does (NiemanLab) 


Why won’t some people pay for news? (Nieman Lab) 

A Dutch study exploring why people don’t pay for news found that the four biggest reasons are price, availability of free news elsewhere, concerns about commitment and distribution issues. The study, by  Tim Groot Kormelink of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, also found that while people hoped that subscribing to a news outlet would help them read the news more, it often didn’t work. Participants said they were more likely to pay for news if it offered “a one-stop source for reliable coverage” and added value to their lives through high-quality news, write Mark Coddington and Seth Lewis. 


‘There has to be a line’: Substack’s founders dive headfirst into the culture wars (Vanity Fair)

Substack has grown beyond its initial base of journalists seeking to monetize their personal brand, and is on its way to being a powerhouse internet publisher to compete with Facebook and Twitter. “What we are trying to do is build a true alternative to the attention economy,” co-creator Hamish McKenzie told Joe Pompeo. But the platform’s stance as a “free speech” haven has drawn criticism for allowing the spreadof misinformation and bigoted viewpoints in some of its newsletters. McKenzie argued that Substack, unlike social media networks, is not an algorithm-based system designed to amplify posts, so disinformation is less of a concern. 

+ Meta to give researchers more information on political ad targeting (The New York Times) 


Mea culpa: The print edition of USA Today is still very much alive (Poynter)

In 2019, Rick Edmonds predicted that USA Today would close its print edition within two years, which didn’t ultimately happen. Maribel Perez Wadsworth, USA Today publisher and president of news for Gannett, told Edmonds that the print edition was still profitable for the company — and that having a print front page and traditional paper are an important part of the USA Today brand. The print edition is still a mainstay of hotel lobbies, which Wadsworth calls “a nice billboard” for the paper. “The cost of paper, printing and distribution keeps going up,” writes Edmonds. “At some point, the revenue and expense lines will almost certainly converge in a bad way. But probably, I’ll concede, not anytime soon.” 


The bot that saw the Times (Columbia Journalism Review)

In 2019, an anonymous math professor started tweeting as New York Times Pitchbot, an account that “imagines the Times formula for stories as a kind of wheezing algorithm, a bot churning out contrarian headlines and half-baked hot takes,” writes Caleb Pershan. Pitchbot’s writer says that while he still admires the paper’s journalism, his criticism is rooted in its national politics and an opinion section “focused on ‘concern-trolling liberals.’” The account leans heavily into phrases like “Dems in Disarray” and “Bad News for Biden.” One journalism professor called the account the best media criticism of the Times that they had seen.