Need to Know: Oct. 24, 2019

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


You might have heard: CNN plans to launch digital news service to compete with Facebook and Apple (The Information)

But did you know: Facebook will launch ‘News’ tab on Friday (Washington Post)

Facebook will pay a select group of publishers, including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and News Corp, to feature their content in the tab. One source familiar with the company’s plans says that Facebook also plans to offer local news sources from the nation’s 10 largest markets and, eventually, a digest of local reports within the news tab — but those details haven’t been made public. Projected revenue for participating publishers varies wildly, from the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, although some publishers will only be paid in advertising dollars generated from their featured stories. “There’s a really healthy trend where virtually every major platform — with the notable exception of Google — is working seriously on how to compensate news publishers for the value we’re adding to their service,” said Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, which is said to be participating in the news tab.

+ Noted: First Draft launches nationwide project to help prepare U.S. newsrooms for online threats ahead of 2020 election (First Draft News); To help confused users, NPR will consolidate its two apps into one (Current); Reynolds Journalism Institute and University of Missouri Libraries receive grant to help preserve important news stories, recordings and videos (Reynolds Journalism Institute); Media companies skip Saudi Arabia’s “Davos in the Desert” (again) (Hollywood Reporter) 


What makes people pay for news

As part of the Media Insight Project, a joint effort between API and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, we conducted what may be the largest study ever undertaken of people who have recently subscribed to newspapers. See what “triggers” makes people subscribe, and why they continue to stay subscribed. 


Email newsletters don’t have to be about driving readers to your website (Medill Local News Initiative)

News organizations are increasingly realizing that audience engagement can happen just as well in readers’ inboxes, and some are developing subscriber-only newsletters as an inducement for subscribers to stick around. In five markets, Gannett news outlets offer a subscriber-only weekly newsletter called Your Week that is written by a top editor or reporter. Your Week “essentially is thanking the subscribers for their loyalty and support of local journalism — ‘Thanks to you we were able to investigate this or do this, and here’s some other articles that were important that you may have missed this week,’” said Amalie Nash, vice president for local news at Gannett’s USA Today Network. “They’re really designed for retention purposes and to make people feel more valued as subscribers and that they’re appreciated for it.”


What if scale breaks community? Rebooting audience engagement when journalism is under fire (Reuters Institute)

Don’t even try to engage audiences at scale, concludes a new report from the Reuters Institute. The report looked at how three news organizations in the Global South — Rappler (the Philippines), Daily Maverick (South Africa), and The Quint (India) — are retreating from the attempt, driven back by persistent harassment of their journalists on social media. Instead, the organizations are focusing more on offline events designed to spark civic engagement, using closed messaging apps to communicate with readers, and building robust membership programs. It’s worth noting that the Daily Maverick, which never fully embraced social media and prioritizes one-to-one interactions via its newsletter and events, has had more success with its membership program than Rappler and the Quint, which were both born as Facebook pages. “Maybe sometimes your end shouldn’t be to build up these huge audiences,” said Ferial Haffajee, associate editor for the Daily Maverick. “Maybe what you want is a smaller quality audience who’ll stick with you. And give you money.”

+ Earlier: Audience scales. Community does not: finding journalism’s “Dunbar number” (Local News Lab)


LinkedIn’s editorial team is all about getting the right content to the right people (CNN)

The team includes 65 journalists who “create, curate or cultivate” content on the platform. Their editorial strategy is guided heavily by the conversations happening on LinkedIn. If users are engaging with a particular news story, LinkedIn’s journalists might decide to do an original story on it; or they might reach out to influencers and users with specific expertise to spur conversation about a topic. Editor-in-Chief Dan Roth said that LinkedIn succeeds in the news business by curating content for one community rather than being everything to everyone. “LinkedIn only thrives if we keep these professional guardrails on what we do,” he said. “We have to get the right business and professional related news and information to the right people. If we try to do everything, we don’t serve the mission.”


Trump’s ‘lynching’ tweet highlights the dark world of false comparisons (Poynter)

President Trump’s communication style seems prone to “dysphemism” — the substitution of a harsher or softer term for a neutral term, writes Roy Peter Clark. The most recent example of this was the President’s comparison of the impeachment inquiry against him to a “lynching.” All politicians of all parties do this from time to time, Clark points out — but in this situation it constitutes a dangerous misuse of language, as people use comparisons as a tool for gaining clarity and understanding. “Let’s all use this brief moment, when we will argue about the word ‘lynching,’ and recommit ourselves as public writers to the responsible and creative use of language, calling out language malpractice when it really matters,” writes Clark.

+ Harvard’s student newspaper explains to angry readers why, when covering a student protest calling for the abolition of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, they reached out to the agency for comment (The Harvard Crimson)

+ The AP Stylebook is asking for input on whether it should change the possessive apostrophe rule for names that end in “s” — and boy, do people have opinions (Twitter, @APStylebook, @kguilbalt)


People who disapprove strongly of Trump are the loudest on Twitter (Pew Research Center) 

A new Pew Research Center study found that 97% of tweets from U.S. adults that mentioned national politics came from just 10% of users. Tweets from users who strongly disapprove of Trump are especially prominent: This group generates 80% of all tweets from U.S. adults and 72% of tweets mentioning national politics. Those who strongly approve of Trump (who produce just 11% of all tweets from U.S. adults) create 25% of tweets mentioning national politics. Taken together, strong disapprovers and strong approvers of Trump generate 97% of all tweets mentioning national politics from U.S. adults on Twitter.

+ Earlier: How Twitter affects journalists’ news judgment (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ How Ashley Feinberg found Mitt Romney’s secret Twitter account (Washingtonian)