Need to Know: November 24, 2020


You might have heard: The wait for final election results gave misinformers an opening (Factually)

But did you know: Most Americans were satisfied by how their chosen news sources explained the election results (Pew Research)

After polls closed on Election Day, 70% of Americans say they followed the results of the election “fairly often” or “almost constantly.” And according to the latest poll from the Pew Research Center’s American News Pathways project, they were mostly happy with the journalism they found, with 77% saying the news source that they followed did a good job of explaining the results as they came in. People who got their election information from cable news were most likely to say they were “almost constantly” following the results, while those using news websites or apps were more likely to say they “checked in fairly often.” Those who mostly got their election news from social media were most likely to say they checked in only occasionally.


Find out what makes your readers want to pay for your journalism 

What kinds of stories drive the most subscriptions or donations? Learn more about your audience’s behaviors using API’s Metrics for News analytics software. Find out more here. 


‘People just love to read about bridges and tunnels’: How real-world traffic boosted the Seattle Times’ subscriptions rate (Press Gazette)

For the Seattle Times, one of its most consistently popular projects is Traffic Lab, a reporting series focused on the city’s transportation infrastructure. The paper’s publisher, Frank Blethen, says traffic problems are one of the great uniters for their readers, and that stories about the city’s transportation appeal to a large swath of the community. Traffic Lab also draws funding from local corporate partners, bringing in another source of revenue.


Lessons from the launch of the South China Morning Post’s new digital subscription service (WAN-IFRA)

The Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post recently launched a new digital subscription service. Adrian Lee, senior vice president of marketing and events, reflected on 10 questions a publisher should answer before launching a new service, such as “What’s your positioning?” For SCMP, the goal was to target both English speakers in Hong Kong as well as a global audience that is interested in Chinese news. When it came to choosing a subscription model, Lee said they had settled on a metered paywall but that it was “an evolving decision,” as they continue to test for an ideal blend of audience needs and premium offerings. To advertise the new plan, SCMP launched several marketing campaigns, including a mission-driven “support journalism” message in Hong Kong.


Ad Council’s challenge: Persuade skeptics to believe in Covid vaccines (The New York Times)

With recent good news about the progress of several COVID-19 vaccines, the Ad Council, a nonprofit advertising group, will focus on encouraging people to receive a vaccine. The Council is beginning to test out messaging now, with plans to roll out a campaign across television, printed publications and social media in the beginning of 2021. Surveys show that fewer than two-thirds of Americans plan to be vaccinated, likely due to the growing anti-vaccination trend over the past few years. One of the main goals will be convincing people who have low trust in the medical community or the government that the vaccine is safe and effective.

+ Information overload helps fake news spread (Scientific American)


Yes, product thinking can save journalism (Knight Lab)

In the conclusion to the Knight Lab’s series on product thinking in media, Rich Gordon writes that product thinking is “the most important mindset for media companies to embrace today.” He writes that journalists are increasingly willing to see their publication or website as a product, one that competes in a marketplace and must focus on user needs to succeed. A few decades ago, a newspaper reporter didn’t need to concern herself with the business needs of the publication, but in the digital age, journalists like social media managers and audience engagement editors are concerned with growing a publication’s audience. But, he says, news organizations have a long way to go before product thinking is fully integrated into their newsrooms.

+ Earlier: The News Product Alliance offers a place for product people in newsrooms — and the newsrooms that need them (Poynter)


Facebook invested heavily in the one feature it knew people couldn’t leave behind: Their groups (The Washington Post)

Of the 2.74 billion Facebook users who log in monthly, two-thirds of them use Groups, and the popularity of the feature has grown during the pandemic. Groups are a popular way of consuming local news and connecting to people with shared interests, and it’s one of Facebook’s few offerings that cannot be recreated or duplicated off-platform. Creators and moderators of groups put in an enormous amount of effort for free, often not because they are fans of the platform, but because they have felt connected to the group’s members.