Need to Know: November 29, 2021

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


You might have heard: U.S. newsroom employment has fallen 26% since 2008 (Pew Research Center)

But did you know: Local news outlets could reap $1.7 billion in Build Back Better aid (The New York Times)

The Build Back Better bill, approved by the House of Representatives on Nov. 19, would earmark about $1.7 billion for local news organizations to help cover their payroll. The tax credit would allow eligible news outlets to receive up to $25,000 for each local journalist they employ during the program’s first year, and $15,000 per journalist during the next four years. To be eligible, journalism organizations must be focused on local news or be a chain that owns local outlets, such as Gannett.

+ Noted: Wirecutter staff went on strike during Black Friday weekend (Poynter)


API is hiring an editorial associate

We’re looking for an editorial associate to oversee and contribute to API’s editorial content, including this newsletter. The ideal candidate already closely follows the news industry or digital media — trends, innovations, experiments, emerging business models and more. Candidates will benefit from a working knowledge of those things and a bottomless hunger for learning and spreading new ideas. Applications should be submitted no later than Dec. 6.


How to track reader regularity rates to optimize subscription success (Digital Content Next)

Subscribers who use a news product frequently are more likely to renew their support, and research shows that regularly visiting a website has a bigger impact on retention than the number of stories a user reads. News outlets should study how often their subscribers visit their site to identify subscribers at risk of canceling, then connect with them using tools like newsletters or news alerts. Publishers also can study their users’ engagement with their brand in other places, such as their app or newsletter, with the goal “to make its product a constant touchpoint and — as such — valuable to the subscriber.”

+ Earlier: The Arizona Republic considers killing “zombies” a staple of its digital subscription strategy (Better News)


In coverage of terrorism, victims must never be props (London School of Economics)

Thirteen years after a terrorist attack left 166 people dead in Mumbai, Ruhi Khan writes that journalists should center victims and empathy in their coverage. She suggests newsrooms create terrorism reporting handbooks to provide guidance on their coverage, including reporting on terror incidents and connected investigations, so that their work doesn’t pose security risks to victims or the public. Khan recommends journalists also receive training on how to cover terrorist attacks to prevent spreading misinformation, stereotypes and information that supports terrorist agendas. Newsrooms could also undergo periodic reviews of past coverage to uncover problems and potential solutions.


Sorted! How England’s Norwich Evening News is speaking truth to power (Behind Local News)

In October, The Norwich Evening News started a campaign called “We’ll Sort It,” and with it, a plan “to put pressure on the council to fix those annoying issues that impact people’s daily lives,” editor Richard Porritt writes. The paper’s efforts have led the Norwich City Council to repair a dangerous sidewalk, fix the city hall clock, and make other improvements that residents had sought for years. Porritt hopes that the Evening News will gain a reputation for “looking out for ordinary folk and doing our best for them.”


What j-schools should teach about freelancing (International Journalists’ Network)

While preparing future reporters for the workforce, Andy Hirschfeld argues that journalism schools should include freelancing skills in their curriculum so that students are ready to follow that career path. Andy Hirschfeld writes that journalism schools do not cover basics like pitching stories to editors or managing a freelancing business. Freelance reporter Meira Gebel suggests journalism schools should cover what freelancer contracts should include and how to set rates. “A lot of students are confused about what their work is worth, and they don’t know how to put a dollar value on what they are able to do,” she says.


Reality Winner responds after four years in jail (Rolling Stone)

After Reality Winner printed a classified document from an NSA facility and sent it to The Intercept, she received a 63-month prison sentence, the longest ever imposed for a leak of government information to journalists. After she was arrested, the nonprofit that owns The Intercept, First Look Media, said it would support Winner’s legal defense, but she says it fell behind on payments to the firm that represented her and at one time owed 30% of the amount the nonprofit agreed to pay. A legal director for First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund disputes her account, saying the organization paid the firm what was outlined in a fee agreement and spent more than $2 million on Winner’s case.