Need to Know: Oct. 8, 2015

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


You might have heard: Google was expected to announce its own version of Instant Articles, with a group of publishers as partners

But did you know: Google is aiming to speed up the mobile web with Accelerated Mobile Pages (Google Official Blog)
Google announced Wednesday Accelerated Mobile Pages, its answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles. Accelerated Mobile Pages speed up mobile page load times through a new open framework called AMP HTML, which Google says “allows websites to build light-weight web pages.” Google says it has nearly 30 publishers signed on to participate in the project, including The New York Times, Vox and Gannett.

+ What publishers need to know about AMP: Page load times will speed up, but most publishers will need to build two parallel versions of their stories and may need to set aside ad tech and analytics for the AMP version (Nieman Lab) and AMP comes at a time when many publishers have been working on their own to cut down page load times, especially on mobile (Digiday)

+ Jeff Jarvis: “It’s not just about speeding up the web. It’s about unbundling the web and web sites” (BuzzMachine)

+ The Verge’s report on AMP is published in AMP format, providing a preview of what we can expect from AMP article pages (The Verge)

+ Noted: Gannett will buy Journal Media Group, which owns Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Memphis’ Commercial Appeal and 15 other daily newspapers, for $280 million (USA Today); Huffington Post employees are seeking a union, citing concerns about diversity among the staff among the reasons why they’re organizing (Poynter); Medium is starting a series that will investigate what happened to a boat of refugees that disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea (Nieman Lab) and Medium also adds mentions, updated apps, a publishing API and improved editing options to the platform (Medium)


To grow audience revenue, differentiate your pricing strategy to attract more subscribers (NetNewsCheck)
To increase their digital revenue, Matt Lindsay writes that publishers need to add subscription levels at different prices to appeal to subgroups of customers. To identify those niche groups, Lindsay writes that publishers can use the audience data they’re collecting. While a one-size-fits-all subscription strategy can eventually plateau in growth, Lindsay says different pricing levels will help publishers continue to grow their digital revenue.

+ How to avoid common mistakes when introducing new changes in the newsroom: Keep everyone up-to-date on what’s happening, manage time pressures caused by new tasks, and understand why projects fail ( and earlier: How newsroom changes fare has much to do with how the innovation is introduced and communicated


The Guardian launches an international homepage for readers outside the US, UK and Australia (Guardian)
Readers outside the U.S., U.K. and Australia will now see a new international homepage from The Guardian. Since The Guardian’s website was relaunched earlier this year, Caspar Llewellyn Smith writes that two-thirds of its audience comes from outside the U.K. “While we already serve readers in the U.S. and Australia with their own editions, we hope the international homepage will help become a destination for readers living elsewhere, giving them the option to see a more global selection of stories when they visit the site.”


For more productive morning meetings, ask how people feel instead of what they’re working on (Medium)
Morning meetings can quickly become a list of what somebody’s working on. To turn that around, David Cohn recommends asking how people are feeling about their work instead of what they’re working on. Cohn writes: “It’s a great way to build communication and trust in a broader sense. Not about who is covering what, but about who needs help. Where pain happens. If you want to build trust, you have to expose vulnerability.”


With Moments, ‘Twitter just reinvented the newspaper’ (Stratechery)
Twitter just did something important with the launch of its news curation feature Moments, Ben Thompson writes: “Twitter just reinvented the newspaper. It’s not just any newspaper though — it has the potential to be the best newspaper in the world.” In the same way that newspapers curate the most important stories for its readers on the front page, Twitter is breaking down stories into Moments and telling users what’s important. Twitter’s big advantage over individual publishers’ websites, Thompson writes, is that it can include the best components from news organizations and normal Twitter users to create its Moments.


The New York Times’ strategy to double digital revenue by 2020: Step back from platforms and focus on its own products (New York Times)
This week, The New York Times hit the milestone of 1 million digital subscribers, but it’s already set its sights on a new goal: Doubling its digital revenue to $800 million by 2020, from $400 million in 2014. To do that, NYT says it will step back from platforms and instead focus on its own products and services. NYT says it will still make its content available on other platforms like Facebook’s Instant Articles, but it will focus on recreating its “same daily must-read essentiality” on mobile.

+ NYT may also transform its subscription strategy, making subscriptions less expensive and possibly doing away with its current smartphone/tablet/web bundling setup (CNN Money) and more takeaways from the memo: NYT will expand its international reach and improve its advertising and sponsorships (Nieman Lab)