Need to Know: Nov. 5, 2018

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


You might have heard: Half of ads that aired in September in U.S. Senate races were pure negative ads (Wesleyan Media Project)

But did you know: Negative ads for federal elections on broadcast TV and national cable channels have increased by 61% since the last midterms (Wesleyan Media Project)

As we reach the final week of the 2018 midterm election, an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project finds that television advertising in federal races is setting new records in volume of negative ads. While the proportion of negative advertising in the post-Labor Day general election period (Sept. 4 – Oct. 25) is not actually record-breaking, this election season feels exceptionally negative to many viewers because the sheer number of negative ads on the air is up by 61 percent over the 2014 midterms.

+ Noted: Apple News will launch a real-time election results hub on Nov. 6 (TechCrunch); Tribune Publishing gets bids from McClatchy, Donerail, and AIM Media (Bloomberg); Tampa Bay Times announces staff reductions (Poynter); About 30 jobs cut due to layoffs and buyouts at Hearst Connecticut (Poynter)


How newsrooms are rethinking midterms coverage (Nieman Reports)

Given the number of races in play, the midterms are difficult to cover even during the best of times. Multiple races are difficult to cover for many local newspapers, already spread very thin after years of layoffs. Some newsrooms are addressing the challenges of the midterm elections by taking a more collaborative approach. Polling experts are exploring how to communicate uncertainty in a more meaningful way. New independent outlets are filling some spaces left by the decline of local newspapers. Dozens of news organizations are joining ProPublica to cover the complexities of the voting process. Reporters are increasingly aware of their role in the fight against misinformation. Here’s how some journalists and news organizations are trying to shape their election coverage in 2018.

+ Say “yes” more often: A media leader’s advice on career moves, management wins and how to pick yourself up after a layoff (Poynter)


Readers drive 40 percent of Nordic publishing giant Schibsted Media’s revenue (Digiday)

Fifteen years since launching its first paywall, Nordic publishing giant Schibsted Media has over a million print and digital subscribers, with reader revenue accounting for 40 percent of revenue for its Media division, according to the company. Schibsted has a goal of getting to €100 million ($114 million) in reader revenue by 2020. But with a monthly churn rate of 9 percent in digital, Schibsted has a retention problem. “You don’t get money from conversion, it’s from retention,” said Kjersti Thorneus, director of product management at Schibsted Media Group, speaking at the Association of Online Publishers event in London this week. “You’re starting off each month at minus 9 percent. That’s still a lot of leakage. We have to make sure the paid experience is perceived as much better than the free one.”


Designing people’s Instagram Stories is now a million-dollar business (Fast Company)

Since its launch in 2016, Instagram Stories has become a popular way for people to share more about their lives, but with that immediacy has come a pressure to seem cool and spontaneous all the time. It’s also a challenge for brands that use Stories to advertise; companies need to produce fun, current content on a daily basis, and manage those Stories the same way they manage their permanent content elsewhere online — even if it quickly disappears. Alfonso Cobo saw the potential in Stories early on. Today, his template app has 11 million users, and he’s launching a design agency focused on Stories alone.


‘National Geographic’s November cover falls back on a racist cliché’ (Vox)

This month’s cover of National Geographic depicts a lone white cowboy looking out over the American West, with the question: Whose land is it anyway? The Instagram promotion of the cover juxtaposes the American cowboy and the words “Battle for the American West” with a Native American, dressed in full regalia in front of a Utah state building. This visual framing — the heroic white savior versus the savage native — is not new to the American imagination or to the magazine. For decades, National Geographic has been criticized for its colonialist approach to nonwhite cultures, specifically indigenous communities. Eight months after National Geographic’s “racial reckoning,” the magazine takes two steps backward.

+ President Trump has fact-checkers gasping for air (The Washington Post)


Why a journalist of color chose to resign from The Globe and Mail in Vancouver, troubled by the lack of diversity in Canadian journalism (Medium, Sunny Dhillon)

“To be a journalist of colour can be to walk a tightrope. On which issues do you weigh in? On which issues do you not? What do you pretend you didn’t see or hear? When that isn’t possible to what do you cowardly chuckle along? The world has gotten uglier in recent years  …  and for me it has become more difficult to let things slide. When a story or column does not adequately, if at all, understand or consider the perspectives of the nonwhite people it involves, what do you say? When a story involving people of colour is assigned with a colour-blind lens and a false sense of objectivity, what do you do? … How many battles do you have in you?”

+ Newsroom employees are less diverse than U.S. workers overall (Pew Research Center); Forbes cuts ties with sports business columnist, deletes piece about WNBA player salaries (The Washington Post); Insider Inc., has asked all of its employees to sign a new contract saying they can never speak ill of the news outlet (The Daily Beast)