Need to Know: Oct. 31, 2018

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


You might have heard: In 2015, there were 205.4 million subscribers to traditional TV, and that will drop to 169.7 million by 2022 (eMarketer)

But did you know: A majority of Americans think cable has become ‘unaffordable’ (The Hollywood Reporter)

Comcast lost 106,000 cable television subscribers in the most recent quarter, while DirecTV shed 346,000 and Charter Communications lost 66,000. According to a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll, a whopping 90 percent of Americans say that the most important factor when deciding to subscribe to a TV or streaming service is cost. Meanwhile, 56 percent say cable is “unaffordable” and 47 percent say the same about satellite, while just 17 percent deem streaming unaffordable. “People are just homing in on affordability, especially younger consumers,” says Morning Consult VP Tyler Sinclair.

+ Noted: Journalists working the local news beat say they’re regularly being verbally abused or physically assaulted, driven by attacks from Trump (Associated Press); Digital First Media laying off 107 at Colorado Springs service center (The Gazette); The Athletic raises $40 million in new funding round (Axios); Exit talks between NBC News and Megyn Kelly have hit a snag over non-disclosure and non-compete stipulations (Variety)

API Update

Beyond email: Other tactics to drive users to subscription offers

The latest addition to API’s Reader Revenue Toolkit looks at multiple ways news organizations should be connecting with prospective subscribers, both on and offline. Email is one of the very best ways to nurture and convert new subscribers, but there are many other approaches to pay attention to. These include online calls to action, refer-a-friend programs, dynamic meters, free and low-cost trials, and partnerships. API’s Director of Reader Revenue Gwen Vargo explores many examples and best practices for how to do these things well.

+ Earlier: Other recent additions to the toolkit are How to get the email addresses you need to drive subscriptions and What it takes to shift a news organization to reader revenue


A massive Facebook group — made up almost entirely of women — is helping to solve a case gripping Australia (Nieman Lab)

Most Americans have never heard of Keli Lane or of her baby, Tegan, who disappeared in 1996 when she was only two days old. But the case of Lane — and her murder conviction in 2011, though no body or hard evidence was ever found — has gripped Australia for years. It’s now the subject of a three-part Australian Broadcasting Corp. documentary — and a Facebook group that, in around two weeks, has grown to 29,000 members focused on one goal: finding out what actually happened to Tegan.

+ Five reporters from local Texas outlets are sharing a Reddit AMA about the Senate race (reddit)


Western Europeans under 30 view news media less positively and rely more on digital platforms than older adults (Pew Research Center)

People of all ages in Western Europe value the importance of the news media in society. Yet, younger adults — those under 30 — are less trusting of the news media and less likely to think the news media are doing a good job in their key responsibilities. And while younger adults rarely read the news in print, they often name established newspaper brands as their main source of news. This new analysis builds off Pew Research Center’s earlier findings about news media and political identities to understand age dynamics in eight Western European countries — Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

+ These were some of the top hoaxes on WhatsApp before the Brazilian election (Poynter)


10 productivity myths you shouldn’t believe (Fast Company)

“The most productive people are early risers. You should learn to eliminate procrastination. Stress is terrible for productivity.” You’ve probably come across many of these statements in productivity articles, writes Anisa Purbasari Horton. But as psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and time management expert Laura Vanderkam told the audience at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, some of the most commonly cited productivity principles are not always correct. Or they are partly true, but there’s more to the statement. For example, Vanderkam says that while research might show morning people do better in tests as kids and get better jobs as adults, it’s not because they are naturally more productive, it’s because the world is set up to reward them.

+ How Instagram has become a refuge for far-right figures who have somehow managed to avoid being banned from the site, including Alex Jones (The Daily Beast); Twitter just launched a midterms page and it’s already surfacing fake news (BuzzFeed News)


‘The Axios coverage of Trump’s plan to get rid of US birthright citizenship was a perverse, obsequious mix of bleak news and promotion of an Axios series on HBO’ (The Intercept)

“You wouldn’t trust a music critic who’s buddies with the band, nor should you trust a tech reporter who hoots and hollers whenever Tim Cook takes the stage,” writes Sam Biddle. “And you definitely, absolutely should be suspicious of a political reporter who sits down with President Donald Trump and looks as if he’s meeting his favorite baseball player.” Axios and HBO gave viewers the first look at a new television show by teaming up with the White House to unveil a new entry in its xenophobic domestic policy lineup, continues Biddle. “Axios has become a political media sensation in a very short amount of time, excelling at both cranking out access-based White House scoops and servility, like some sort of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue-based Roomba.”

+ Voter suppression is a crucial story in America, but broadcast news mostly shrugs (The Washington Post)


Reporters tried to buy fake Facebook ads on behalf of all 100 US senators and Facebook approved all of them (VICE News)

One of Facebook’s major efforts to add transparency to political advertisements is a required “Paid for by” disclosure at the top of each ad supposedly telling users who is paying for political ads that show up in their news feeds, writes William Turton. But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the “Paid for by” feature is easily manipulated and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad. To test it, VICE News applied to buy fake ads on behalf of all 100 sitting U.S. senators, including ads “Paid for by” by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.