Need to Know: Oct. 7, 2021

OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: Black media needs a new business model (New York Times) 

But did you know: Why Black media matters (Center for Community Media, CUNY)

A study examining Black media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice protests found that Black media publishes up to six times more coverage than mainstream media on issues of importance to Black communities, including racism, health disparities, and voting access. Within coronavirus coverage, Black media wrote five times more than mainstream media on the disproportionate racial impact of the pandemic, and nearly twice as much as mainstream media on frontline and essential workers. The issue of voting access was included in 12% of all politics stories in Black media, more than twice the percentage for mainstream media (5%). And Black media leads the way on stories related to racism, putting focus on these stories at higher levels and earlier in the news cycle than mainstream media. Nearly 1 in every 4 (23%) articles in Black media mentioned racism or related issues, as compared with less 1 one in 10 articles (8%) in mainstream media.

+ Related: How The Tennessean tells stories for and with Black residents (Better News)

+ Noted: The founder of Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool is leaving (The Verge)

API RESOURCES

Journalism in the fog of ‘high conflict’: Q&A with Amanda Ripley

Journalist Amanda Ripley’s 2018 essay, “Complicating the Narratives,” helped change how many journalists cover polarizing debates. In this Q+A, API’s Kevin Loker talked to Ripley about how journalists can, through their reporting, help people exit “high conflict” — a type of conflict that is “self-perpetuating and all-consuming, in which almost everyone ends up worse off.”

TRY THIS AT HOME

NOLA.com acquired more than 19k subscriptions by texting locals during Hurricane Ida (What’s New in Publishing)

Before Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast in September, Georges Media Group, which owns NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune, had been planning to launch a text-message service for subscribers. But with the hurricane bearing down, the publisher switched to providing text messages containing emergency information to anyone who signed up. “Readers were sending us questions and we tried to deploy updates based on the kinds of questions we received,” says Kyle Whitfield. “I can say that each text message results consistently in a handful of readers purchasing a subscription.”

+ Earlier: How the Tampa Bay Times turned to texting to engage readers with election news (Better News)

OFFSHORE

About 70% of the local media in Argentina work mostly with freelancers (LatAm Journalism Review)

A report by the Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA, by its Spanish acronym) found that about 70% of the country’s local media outlets depend largely on freelancers or commissioned collaborators, stark evidence that permanent, full-time journalism jobs are vanishing. A previous report by FOPEA found that 50% of Argentina constituted a news desert. The situation is a “disaster,” said Fernando Ruiz, president of FOPEA. “Today journalism, except for a few media, cannot offer a journalist decent work. After our study on news deserts, that became clear, and when we focused on the type of employment contract journalists have, what we saw is even worse. Doing quality journalism is practically a miracle under these conditions.”

OFFBEAT

How science partnerships enhance local climate reporting (Local Media Association)

The Local Media Association’s Covering Climate Collaborative partnered 23 local news outlets with scientific organizations and data visualization experts to help the news outlets tell local climate stories. For example, when major flooding struck San Antonio, Texas, the TV news station KSAT used Climate Central’s hyperlocal data visualizations to help put the flooding into context for viewers. And after the U.N. released its major climate report in August, SciLine, another LMA partner, gathered video comments from the report’s authors and made them available to the newsrooms. “Personally, I feel more empowered to talk about climate change,” said KSAT meteorologist Sarah Spivey. “The resources provided by Climate Central and the interviews of IPCC scientists through SciLine were incredibly helpful.”

UP FOR DEBATE

Light readers: Publishers’ new obsession (Twipe)

A new report from INMA found that “light readers” — people who are “casual, infrequent and picky consumers of news” — make up a significant portion of news audiences. But they’re the most difficult to attract, and the most difficult to retain. More news publishers have been dedicating resources to understanding and attracting light readers — “Light readers are my new obsession,” said Miki King, former chief marketing officer at The Washington Post. They require longer trials before hitting a paywall, so registration walls are key to be able to track those readers and push them toward a subscription at the right moment.

SHAREABLE

How creative ownership structures can help local news publishers stay local (Medium, Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy)

Local publishers have tried several creative ownership structures to ensure their businesses stay out of the hands of “vulture capitalists” and hedge funds. Mark Glaser walks through examples like the Long Beach Post, which is owned by local “impact investors”; Lookout Santa Cruz, a public benefit corporation; Racket, which is journalist-owned; and The Devil Strip, a reader-owned co-op. “For those places with high-minded impact investors, a locally-owned LLC might work,” Glaser explains. “For towns with strong small business communities, a public benefit corporation could be a good fit. For news outlets started by refugees of shuttered or ‘ghost newspapers,’ a journalist-owned LLC could be worth a look. And for those folks who want a very decentralized and democratic process, the cooperative would fit.”

+ Earlier: More news outlets are going back to local ownership (Medill Local News Initiative)