Need to Know: May 5, 2021


You might have heard: Condé Nast unveils 500 virtual and in-person events for 2021 (AdWeek) 

But did you know: The pandemic didn’t wreck news outlets’ hopes for events (Medill Local News Initiative) 

When the pandemic put a stop to in-person events, it seemed that news outlets that relied heavily on public gatherings may be in particular trouble. And while some did suffer, many have thrived in the virtual event space. For instance, The Texas Tribune, famous for its success with live programming, rethought its entire approach to events. Panels became smaller and more focused, but managed to reach more live streaming viewers than ever before. The outlet also maintained its sponsorship rates, making the virtual events more profitable than in-person gatherings. 

+ Noted: News Media Alliance announces recipients of 2020 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development (News Media Alliance); The New York Times tops 7.8 million subscribers as growth slows (The New York Times) 


Trust tip: Build trust with sources through clear expectations (Trusting News) 

Journalists looking to build trust in their communities should be sure to prep sources before an interview. Most people have never spoken to a local journalist, and they may not understand the conventions of a journalistic interview. Reporters should cover the basics of the process — what is the story, what is the source’s role in the story, how much of the interview will likely be included — as well as what kind of public reactions you expect from the piece. And it’s important to keep the source in the loop if and when things change. 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 Quartz Essentials is extracting knowledge from the news (Quartz) 

Quartz has announced the launch of Quartz Essentials, a feature that “extracts the most essential knowledge” from the site’s news coverage. At the end of articles, Quartz Essentials will feature basic facts that help put that news story within a greater context. These will lead to further “zoomed out” collections of facts and figures. Essentials are free, giving a taste of stories that are behind Quartz’s membership paywall. Quartz says it began testing Essentials at the beginning of the year, and is welcoming feedback from readers on the new feature. 


Canadian newsletter startup unveils plan to revive local news (The Guardian) 

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Wilkinson started a daily newsletter in Victoria in 2019, and it has become a thriving news outlet publishing long-form investigative stories. Now, the parent company Overstory Media Group, which has grown to include several other newsletters in British Columbia, has announced it will hire 250 new journalists and launch 50 new outlets by 2023. The Group will offer resources to the outlets, but each one will be run independently. The existing newsletters are funded by Wilkinson as well as through advertising revenue, and they have proven to be sustainable and profitable. 


How TikTok personalities are making a name for themselves by delivering news to Gen Z (The Washington Post) 

Personalities on TikTok are racking up millions of views by aggregating national news to the platform’s video format. Users between 10 and 19 make up the largest portion of TikTok’s audience in the U.S., and 51 percent of Gen Z said that they get their news from TikTok. For creators, success has come in brief, succinct videos that are easy to follow and comprehend. The ability to script, record and edit a video all within the platform makes it easy for one-man-bands to produce content. And for many producers, the lack of existing structure allows them to target their programming towards a smaller, often underrepresented group of viewers. 


+ Eying a future subscription service, Twitter acquires the ad-free news startup Scroll (NiemanLab) 


Washington Post employees can’t take a public stance on statehood (Washingtonian) 


In a memo to staff, The Washington Post has clarified what public events are appropriate for newsrooms employees to attend. The memo asserts that employees should “refrain from such expressions of public advocacy” as protests or demonstrations that relate to issues covered by the paper, including Black Lives Matter and statehood for Washington D.C. Celebratory events such as Pride or Juneteenth celebrations are allowed, but “partisan activities” are out. “As a rule, we are witnesses and observers in the public square, not participants or activists,” said the memo. 


Please buy this newspaper: A Daily News reporter begs a local owner to rescue the tabloid from Alden Global Capital (The New York Daily News) 

Daily News reporter Larry McShane is begging a fellow New Yorker to rescue the tabloid paper from the ownership of Alden Global Capital. McShane writes that the 102-year-old paper, currently owned by Tribune Publishing, is “in many ways still reeling” from Tribune’s newsroom cuts in 2018, and now he worries that Alden will decimate the paper and “pick the bones for profit.” In an appeal to readers and potential buyers “who appreciate what local journalism offers,” McShane begs for a future owner who is committed to investing in the Daily News, rather than a “vulture.” He also expresses cautious optimism about Stewart Bainum’s bid for Tribune, who has vowed to turn over the paper to local owners if his bid is successful.