Need to Know: Oct. 25, 2019

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


You might have heard: Luminary, the “Netflix for podcasts,” offends Twitter with its insistence that “Podcasts don’t need ads” (Podcast Business Journal)

But did you know: Despite a healthy podcast ad market, subscriber-only podcasts are on the rise (Digiday) 

Publishers like Slate and The Athletic are putting more of their podcasts behind paywalls or exploring freemium models, writes Kayleigh Barber. In 2018, Slate launched Supporting Cast, a proprietary platform that enables publishers to put podcasts behind a paywall, and whose client list now numbers in the dozens. Other platforms like Stitcher and Luminary are also allowing publishers to experiment with subscriber-only podcasts; however, the majority of traditional publishers are still figuring out their overall podcast strategies and haven’t advanced to consumer-revenue models yet. A buoyant podcast ad market removes some of the sense of urgency that is pushing publishers to explore consumer revenue for other forms of digital content, writes Barber.

+ Noted: One-in-five U.S. newsroom employees live in New York, Los Angeles or D.C. (Pew Research Center); Apply for free legal services for your newsroom by Oct. 31 (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press); ONA is looking for a student representative for its Board of Directors — apply by Nov. 14 (Twitter, @ONA); Publishers participating in Facebook’s News Tab have no way to detect whether referral traffic is coming from News Tab versus other parts of Facebook, like News Feed or groups (Digiday)


In this week’s edition of ‘Factually’

Facebook and Instagram will display fact-checks more prominently; artificial intelligence is getting “shockingly better very quickly” at finding misinformation; and can journalists trick President Trump into telling the truth? Factually is a weekly newsletter produced by API and the Poynter Institute that covers fact-checking and misinformation.


Ohio teen lowers barriers for immigrants trying to access news and information (The Columbus Dispatch)

A child of immigrants herself, 17-year-old Saideepika Rayala noticed that many immigrants in her community weren’t engaged in civic issues and often only read news sources from their native countries. She wanted to deliver them local news in their native languages, in hopes that it would make them feel more connected to the community. So she started a monthly email newsletter, where she rounds up news stories she feels are relevant to immigrant communities, and works with a team of translators and editors to tell the stories in three languages: Telugu, Tamil and French. She’ll often add context to news stories that helps newcomers to the U.S. navigate things like local elections and other government functions.

+ Earlier: Our case study looks at strategies for building relationships with refugee communities


Decrease in younger audiences is ‘significant risk to the future sustainability of the BBC’ (Press Gazette)

Ofcom’s message to the BBC: Be bolder, do something different, or you will lose the future generation of news consumers. In its second annual report on the BBC, the broadcast regulator added that unless more is done to reach young audiences, public support for the licence fee could be eroded in future. “The BBC is still a vital, valued part of British culture, but we’re concerned that a new generation is tuning out of its services,” said Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White. “So the BBC must set out bolder plans to connect with younger viewers and listeners.”


Digital natives expect better product experiences (Twipe)

Those who’ve grown up in the digital world expect frictionless online experiences. News outlets that can successfully draw them in offer the same ease of use and compelling design that they’re used to getting on platforms like Netflix, Spotify and social media. “There’s literally no patience,” said Nic Newman, senior researcher at the Reuters Institute. “If you think about how traditional organizations have set up their sites to be interruptive and not load instantly, it’s not hard to see why those experiences have not resonated in the way Facebook and Instagram, for example, has.”

+ Earlier: “Gen Z is used to Netflix. When was the last time that logged you out? Compare that to a news site.” (Twitter, @elanazak)


The media industry might be healthier than you realize (What’s New in Publishing)

There’s no shortage of news about the shortage of news. But much of that coverage focuses on traditional media companies, and ignores the advances in sales, advertising and subscription technology that are giving nontraditional media organizations a considerable boost. “We’ve entered an era when content creators have access to many of the monetization mechanisms that were previously only available within larger publishing operations,” writes Simon Owens — tools like crowdfunding, Patreon, Substack, revenue-sharing agreements like YouTube’s Partner Program, online stores, and more. Although there’s no doubt that the media industry is hurting, Owen says, we should recognize the successes enabled by these new players, and acknowledge that they’re creating jobs as well. 

+ When journalists delete tweets, they may be erasing the first draft of history (Columbia Journalism Review)


‘No one working at Newsweek can tell me why it still exists’ (Columbia Journalism Review)

Newsweek reporters are required to file four stories per day — and the first one by 9 a.m. Editors judge the story by its headline, often tweaking it for better virality. Headlines dictate the news, and reporters’ performance is still judged by clicks and page views, writes Daniel Tovrov. Even the publisher’s insistence on original reporting is in part about writing for Google News, which ranks original reporting higher than aggregated pieces in search results. Because of that, each story is required to be at least 400 words. “You’re being asked to write a story in two hours, and your editors are being asked to edit it in twenty minutes, and we’re all supposed to be experts on whatever it is the story’s about, even if we’re covering the entire world,” says one reporter. “It’s just not possible.”


+ This fellowship wants to find the next generation of local newspaper owners: “What’s different and worthwhile about NewStart … is it focuses on nourishing a group of people with the skills they need to be successful.” (Poynter) 

+ The Colorado Sun, one year after the “Denver rebellion” (Columbia Journalism Review)

+ Maybe it’s not YouTube’s algorithm that radicalizes people — a new report suggests that rather it’s the demand from communities that form around far-right content (Wired)