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Need to Know: May 8, 2018

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism


You might have heard: Three top figures at The Denver Post, including its former owner, resigned Friday amid budget and staff cuts made by the newspaper’s New York-based hedge fund owners (Associated Press)

But did you know: 55 of The Denver Post’s remaining newsroom staffers signed an open letter calling on Alden Global Capital and Digital First Media to ‘either invest in the newspaper or sell it to someone who cares about Colorado’ (Denver Newspaper Guild)

“Newspapers tell the truth. They must. Always. That is why we, the newsroom of The Denver Post, are outraged at the unconscionable censorship imposed on our now-former editorial page editor, Chuck Plunkett. Chuck told the truth, eloquently and pointedly. And in that our newspaper’s corporate ownership — Digital First Media and the hedge fund Alden Global Capital — saw something to fear, not to champion.”

+ Related: Op-Ed: I stood up for ‘The Denver Post’ and was forced to resign (Rolling Stone); “Everything I believe about the news business is being violated” at The Denver Post (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: Business and finance-focused streaming network Cheddar launches a Snapchat Discover channel (Axios); Former MTV and Vice executive Lauren Dolgen named Head of BuzzFeed Studios, will oversee BuzzFeed’s original content for TV (Variety); PolitiFact launched a new Sunday morning fact-checking show (Poynter); Despite digital gains, Gannett sees a first quarter revenue decline of 7.2 percent (Poynter)


The case for reimagining news as a finite product (Poynter)

New research from Twipe, a digital publishing company that focuses on newspapers, shows “great opportunity” for publishers to adopt what it calls “digital-only editions.” The research looked at eight organizations in Europe that publish finite bundles of digital content on fixed schedules — similar to e-editions of existing publications but more curated, more digital-focused and easier to read. Publications like the Espresso from the Economist deliver daily news briefings right to users’ devices, notify them when they’re there and allow for more depth than something like an email newsletter. “Digital editions are a return to news as a finite lifestyle product and not a constant gnawing at the back of my push alert-addled mind. And I welcome more of them,” writes Ren LaForme.


Phnom Penh Post, seen as Cambodia’s last independent daily, was sold to a Malaysian businessman (BBC News)

Several senior journalists have left Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post, saying its new owners fired the editor in chief and demanded a story be removed. The paper, seen as Cambodia’s last independent daily, was sold to a Malaysian businessman at the weekend, raising concerns about its future. The sale comes amid an increasing crackdown on independent media outlets. The Post’s former owner identified the buyer as “well respected newspaper man” Sivakumar Ganapthy, and said an outstanding tax bill had been cleared as part of the deal. Ganapthy is also director of a PR firm which has done work for the Cambodian government.

+ Related: Cambodian newspaper’s sale prompts fears of eroding press freedoms (The New York Times)


Scholars have data on millions of Facebook users. Who’s guarding it? (The New York Times)

In July 2014, a team of four Swedish and Polish researchers began using an automated program to better understand what people posted on Facebook. By May 2016, they had amassed enough information to track how 368 million Facebook members behaved on the social network. “We’re concerned about how easy it was to collect this,” said Fredrik Erlandsson, one of the researchers and a lecturer at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden. For more than a decade, researchers from academic institutions around the world have harvested information from Facebook using similar techniques. They have compiled hundreds of Facebook data sets that captured the behavior of a few thousand to hundreds of millions of individuals, according to interviews with more than a dozen scholars.

+ Meet the Disruptors: 39 women who are spearheading a revolution in advertising, media and tech (AdWeek)


Our addiction to Trump: ‘As long as our focus is on Trump, audiences follow’ (Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times)

We in the commentariat complain about President Trump, but we’re locked in a symbiotic relationship with him, writes Nicholas Kristof. “News organizations, especially cable television channels, feed off Trump — like oxpeckers on a rhino’s back — for he is part of our business model in 2018 … Yet I worry that our national nonstop focus on Trump is helping to usher America into a hole: a Trump obsession. The danger is that Trump sucks up all the oxygen, so that other issues don’t get adequate attention,” like the opioid crisis.

+ Another week, another paywall: How not to do paywalls (TechCrunch)


College editor stands behind sex column despite backlash (College Media Matters)

Mark Young is supposed to be studying for finals, but instead he’s fielding calls from the professional media. Young, who is editor-in-chief of Del Mar College’s student newspaper, is getting a little flack after his latest column, and its illustrations, drew some ire from folks on campus. The piece gave students advice on how to mix studying and sex, and Mark said it was meant to make folks laugh. “It [is] a satirical piece,” Young said. “This was entirely just a parody, it was a joke, because this time of your can be very stressful. Make people have a laugh. I don’t think anybody can laugh too much.”

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