Need to Know: Nov. 26, 2019


You might have heard: Statehouse coverage is one of the beats that has suffered most in years of declining local news (ProPublica)

But did you know: The AP and Report for America are creating 14 new statehouse jobs (Poynter)

Yesterday the AP and Report for America announced a partnership to create 14 reporting positions to cover the state governments of Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah. The positions, mostly funded by the AP and RFA, will last for 18 months and begin next June. The AP will make their coverage available for free to other media in those states. The initiative is the latest in a range of creative partnerships to cover state legislatures, including Capitol News Illinois and Spotlight PA.

+ Noted: Amid corporate uncertainty, McClatchy is digging into community-funded reporting labs (Nieman Lab)


Podcast: Iconic southern newspaper undergoes digital-first transformation (It’s All Journalism)

The family-owned News Reporter in Whiteville, N.C., has been serving rural Columbus County since 1896. In 2016, the third-generation owners embarked on a journey to transform the twice-weekly print publication into a digital-first newsroom. This episode is the latest in “Better News,” a podcast series from It’s All Journalism and API that shares success stories from the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative.

+ Students and recent college graduates: Apply for our summer internship in news analytics


Is engaging with readers the key to both trust and revenue? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Vox Media has asked readers to share their personal stories for the newsroom’s investigative projects. Quartz has seen audience engagement come from revamping the site’s comment section. The Dallas Morning News and Block Club Chicago regularly hold office hours in libraries and coffee shops to meet with people who might not be subscribers. Engagement can take many forms (and it may feel uncomfortable for news orgs that haven’t traditionally taken such measures), but the effort pays off in the long run. “We’ve seen that the more your audience sees you are valuing them, the more likely they are to trust you as well as support you, either financially or with their time,” said Summer Fields, engagement strategist for Hearken.


The EU doesn’t have a sense of its disinformation problem — this report suggests the policy changes it can make (Nieman Lab)

A new Reuters Institute report addressed to the European Commission highlighted the lack of any independent analysis of Europe’s disinformation problem — without which, the report’s authors argue, evidence-based policy-making designed to combat the problem is impossible. The report suggests some policies that could help the Commission crack down on disinformation, such as making a clear distinction between illegal content and disinformation that is still protected by the right to free expression, and investing in independent media literacy efforts.

+ Related: Singapore invokes its “fake news” law for the first time over politician’s Facebook post (Thompson Reuters Foundation News)


It’s time for the banner ad to retire (AdAge)

Twenty-five years ago the very first banner ad appeared on, inducing 44% of people who saw it to click on it. Contrast that with today, when banner ads are so unwelcome with internet users that publishers are ditching them as soon as they can figure out how to make up that revenue somewhere else. And, Jerrid Grimm points out, more marketers and publishers are starting to embrace advertising in ways that fit the user experience — a sponsored article, a photo post on Instagram, a top-of-the-rankings text link in Google, etc. “If it feels natural to the content they came for in the first place, they’re going to be happier about their user experience and more likely to engage with your brand.”


Mike Bloomberg just stabbed the journalistic heart of his news organization (Washington Post)

The billionaire’s decision to enter in the Democratic race puts his many talented journalists, especially those in Washington and New York, in a compromised position, writes Margaret Sullivan. In a memo over the weekend, Bloomberg’s top editor explained that the organization will not dig into Bloomberg himself or his Democratic rivals. They will cover developments in the campaign on a more superficial level — “stenographer journalism,” some in the newsroom call it. Bloomberg’s decision could have long-term impacts if he were to win the election, says Sullivan. “We already have a rich-guy president who thinks the tried-and-true rules that underpin our democracy aren’t made for him and who doesn’t exhibit a core understanding of the accountability role of an independent press … Failing to fairly cover the most important story of our time — with built-in provisions for complete independence — may be the Bloomberg way at the moment. But it isn’t the right way.”

+ The white working class is a political fiction that the media needs to stop perpetuating (The Outline)


Why it’s so hard to scale paid podcast subscriptions (What’s New in Publishing)

Podcasts are fragmented across dozens of apps, many of which don’t offer any in-app payment processing functionality. Publishers have tried to get around this barrier by sequestering podcasts within their own paid apps, but that approach introduces friction into the consumer’s experience: Publishers are asking listeners to go to another platform from the one they usually use for podcasts and pay for new content. Other workarounds have met with technical difficulties, writes Simon Owens. “Am I arguing that publishers shouldn’t bother with paid podcast subscriptions? Not necessarily. But I do think that you should fit them within a larger subscription strategy that offers a bevy of other benefits.”

+ Newscaster’s errant email calling in sick gets national attention (New York Times); A reporter’s guide to texting with Rudy Giuliani (New York Magazine)