Need to Know: Oct. 9, 2019

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


You might have heard: Impeachment tensions are sparking division within conservative media (Axios)

But did you know: Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg to launch new conservative news site, The Dispatch (Axios)

Several big names in conservative media have announced they are launching a new, “Trump-skeptical” conservative outlet called The Dispatch. The founders of the site, which will start with eight full-time staffers, include Jonah Goldberg, formerly of the National Review, and Steve Hayes, formerly of the Weekly Standard, both of whom are frequent critics of Trump. Details of the deal included a partnership with Substack, a platform for paid newsletters, which will begin hosting at least one of the site’s newsletters this week. 

+ Related: RealClear Media has a secret Facebook page to push far-right memes (The Daily Beast)

+ Noted: Group Nine to acquire PopSugar, continuing wave of digital media tie-ups (Wall Street Journal); Podcast startup Luminary’s co-founder steps down from chief strategy role (The Verge)


Trust Tip: Focus on the audience members who aren’t yelling at you (Trusting News)

For journalists, criticism from the public is part of the gig. This week’s Trust Tip is a reminder that vocal critics don’t reflect your entire audience. Joy Mayer recommends a healthy dose of comment moderation, along with finding ways to recognize and respond to positive feedback. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here. 


Major gifts coaching: Modest investments generate major returns (Institute for Nonprofit News)

About 40 percent of donations to news nonprofits come from individuals, compared to 70 percent in the nonprofit field at large. A pilot program from the Institute for Nonprofit News found that training and access to fundraising tools led eight newsrooms to raise more than $1.7 million in net revenue. The training included coaching from a donor development specialist and building skills in areas like messaging and strategic planning. “The curiosity and persistence that journalists bring to their investigative work are exactly the skills required for major gift work,” said Diane Remin, who led coaching efforts for the program. “What is missing are the tools and training that journalists need in order to have the confidence to go talk with their donors — and ask for a gift.”

+ How to dig into businesses that prop up criminal networks (Global Investigative Journalism Network)


Stavanger Aftenblad’s comment campaign goes viral in effort to reduce churn (International News Media Association)

Every year, Norwegian newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad runs several campaigns to recruit subscribers, but retaining them requires its own approach. In keeping with the concept that regular use of a product means a consumer is more likely to stick around, the publication launched a campaign that targeted its current subscribers and encouraged them to participate in the site’s dynamic comment section. Stavanger  Aftenblad’s team compiled memorable comments from its site, then hired a single comedian to play a wide range of commenters. The humorous viral campaign increased brand awareness and may have contributed to higher retention of long-term subscribers.

+ Facebook video program gives $300,000 to 20 European publishers as the social media giant finalizes a $40 million settlement in connection with the company’s alleged inflation of video metrics


Social media ad budgets continue to grow at ‘expense of print’ (The Drum)

For the first time, international spending on social media advertising will exceed that of print this year, according to analysis from Zenith Media. Those projections expect social media ad spending to increase 20 percent this year, landing at $84 billion, while advertising dollars connected to newspapers and magazines may drop 6 percent for a total of $69 billion. Global online advertising has radically increased its share of total ad spending from 12 percent in 2008 to 44 percent last year, while print’s share has dropped to the single digits.

+ How deepfakes evolved so rapidly in just a few years (Fast Company)


Pueblo Dispatch: Crisis and response in a storied Colorado newspaper city (News-to-Table)

After GateHouse bought the Pueblo Chieftain last year, layoffs and retirement buyouts followed, leaving the paper’s reporting staff reduced to 18 from its former 30. Although the newsroom wanted to cover changes at the paper, GateHouse nixed that idea. “If local newspapers want to foster trust in their communities, then they have to be honest about what’s happening to them,” said Corey Hutchins, Colorado College’s journalist in residence and a contributor for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project. “… Why don’t they let readers see that the newspaper is shrinking, and it’s being delivered in fewer places with fewer journalists?”

+ Facebook flagged Alaska public media outlet KTOO for “repeatedly (sharing) clickbait,” resulting in reduced distribution on the platform. (@RyCunn, Twitter)


Subjectivity, hugs and craft: Podcasting as extreme narrative journalism (Nieman Storyboard)

As podcasts reach new heights in popularity, Siobhan McHugh writes that the medium is building on and reinventing the rich storytelling traditions of narrative journalism. This carryover from the written word is marked by adaptations to the form, like the bond that audiences develop to podcast hosts through the direct, intimate nature of audio. For instance, listeners feel they are a part of Serial host Sarah Koenig’s reporting process, as she shares her line of thinking while following the story without a pre-determined story arc.