Need to Know: Nov. 15, 2019


You might have heard: McClatchy reports severe financial setbacks that may force it to sell (Poynter); It also announced yesterday that it’s cutting Saturday print papers across all of its properties (New York Times)

But did you know: McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee will launch donor-supported reporting team (Sacramento Business Journal)

The Bee has established a nonprofit funding model for a team of reporters who will dedicate themselves to special in-depth reporting projects. Supported by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, the Bee launched the Media Impact Fund, which will raise tax-deductible contributions for the team starting in early 2020. It joins The Fresno Bee, also a McClatchy paper, which created a similar model to fund its education reporting, as well as The Seattle Times, which has three donor-supported reporting initiatives. “They are being very diverse in how and where they are seeking funding,” said Kerry Wood, chief marketing and donor engagement officer with the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, of the Sacramento Bee.

+ Noted: With its merger approved, the new Gannett readies the cost-cutting knife (Nieman Lab); Apple plans mega bundle of music, news, TV as early as 2020 — which could ultimately mean less money for publishers (Bloomberg); Study shows that spoken-word listening is up by 20% since 2014 (Radio Ink)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Facebook loosely defines “politician,” tech platforms rush to prevent misinformation before the U.K. snap election, and how two Stanford researchers are mapping 2020 election misinformation using a model typically used to track infectious diseases. Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


How The New York Times designed a planning tool as part of its CMS to streamline newsroom workflow (Medium, Times Open)

The tool, called Story Dashboard, now lives permanently in the CMS and allows newsroom staff to find, organize and evaluate the status of stories, so editors can make decisions about their reports. The user interface clearly shows the status of each story, such as whether a headline has been written or if all necessary photos have been inserted. Clicking into the asset reveals more details about its status as well as distribution and social promotion information. There’s also a calendar view that lets editors see at a glance how the week ahead looks. “Newsroom planning is extremely complicated: it requires collaboration, transparency and a shared understanding of status,” writes Angela Guo. “Consolidating all of our newsroom’s planning needs into one tool from disparate and unlinked systems enables everyone to have full context when making decisions.”


Google News shutdown in Spain didn’t adversely affect publishers, study says (News Media Alliance)

After Google shut down its Google News service in Spain at the end of 2014, publishers in the country braced themselves for drastic drops in web traffic. But a review of website data from eight Spanish news publishers, as well as anecdotal evidence from other Spanish and European news executives, shows that the Spanish news publishing industry has been minimally affected by the Google News shutdown, and that drops in traffic to publishers’ websites were “if anything, low and temporary.” The study also found that many publishers made up for any loss in referral traffic from Google with organic traffic growth.

+ Earlier: A 2017 study suggested that the withdrawal of Google News may actually benefit publishers because direct traffic is more valuable than referral traffic (Stanford Graduate School of Business)


What Facebook Pay could mean for the future of content payments (What’s New in Publishing)

Facebook Pay launched this week, and could be a boon to publishers looking for a seamless, universal way to enable micropayments for content, writes Esther Kezia Thorpe. Perhaps publishers could use Facebook Pay to enable donations on articles published in the News tab, or it could be used for Instant Articles, suggests Kezia Thorpe. “It’s inevitable, given their recent willingness to listen and work with publishers again, that Facebook will be thinking seriously at some stage about how this could be used to keep the media industry happy. Publishers need to start thinking about their approach to this, because it’s no longer a question of if Facebook will enable payment for content, but when.”


News or ‘trauma porn’? Student journalists face blowback on campus (New York Times)

Recent incidents at Harvard and Northwestern University, as well as at other college campuses across the U.S., reveal a growing tension between traditional journalistic practices and the demands of student activists. It is now not uncommon for college newspaper editors to be confronted by students who are upset at being photographed in a public place without being asked for their permission; who view receiving a text message or phone call from a reporter as an invasion of their privacy; and who expect journalists to help assuage their concerns that graphic images in a newspaper could cause trauma to readers. Student journalists are struggling to balance those demands with the core journalistic values and processes that they are being taught in the classroom.


Wondering how The Salt Lake Tribune got 501(c)(3) status? Here’s their entire application to the IRS — and the IRS’s response (Nieman Lab)

Many, including The Salt Lake Tribune itself, were surprised when the Tribune was able to pull off what no other newspaper has yet managed to do: convince the IRS to allow it to convert to a nonprofit. The IRS’s prompt, no-questions-asked approval of the Tribune’s application comes at a time when the IRS is facing severe funding cuts and a shortage of auditors. (So it may be a good time to attempt a similar request, suggests Christine Schmidt.) Schmidt procured the 59-page application and the IRS’s much shorter response for those looking to parse how the Tribune positioned its ask.


+ A Brookings Institution report looks at the impact of news deserts on American democracy and makes two policy suggestions: Provide public funding for local journalism and address the ways large online platforms undercut the business model for local news (Brookings Institution)

+ When Watergate was appointment TV: Public television’s 1973 coverage is both a preview of coming impeachment attractions and a memento of an irretrievable media past (New York Times)

+ The influencer scientists debunking online misinformation (Wired)