Need to Know: October 2, 2018

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


You might have heard: Earlier this year, the Lenfest Institute, News Integrity Initiative, Democracy Fund, and Knight Foundation created the Community Listening and Engagement Fund to help newsrooms adopt new audience engagement tools (Lenfest Institute)

But did you know: The Community Listening & Engagement Fund announces a new round of grants for newsrooms (Lenfest Institute)

The Community Listening and Engagement Fund (CLEF) is opening a third round of applications for newsrooms, and is offering subsidies for an expanded suite of tools. CLEF will subsidize the costs for newsrooms to adopt the Coral Project’s Talk, DocumentCloud & MuckRock, and the Listening Post Collective’s training, information ecosystem assessments and consulting. All three organizations will offer consulting for newsrooms on how to deepen their reporting and relationships with their communities. “We recognize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for building trust and relationships with communities,” said Molly de Aguiar, managing director of the News Integrity Initiative, one of the organizations supporting CLEF. “That is why we are very excited to be expanding the offering of tools and services for newsrooms in this round of CLEF. These tools will enable newsrooms to experiment even more with how to be more relevant and trusted by their communities.”

+ Noted: Lenfest Institute opens applications for $150k in Philadelphia News Ecosystem Collaboration grants (Lenfest Institute); Public television pioneer Rick Breitenfeld dies at 87 (Current); The New York Times replaces summer internships with yearlong fellowships (Poynter); Hearst Connecticut Media Group and The Connecticut Mirror announce cross-platform content partnership (Hearst); White House press briefings are declining, with only one taking place in the entire month of September (CNN)


What it takes to shift a news organization to reader revenue

A new report from API and Damon Kiesow offers a step-by-step look at how to transition an entire news organization from an advertising-based strategy to a reader-revenue strategy. The report explains how to collect and use the right data about news audiences; how to break down internal data silos and align departments to focus on growing reader revenue; and how to establish a “reader-first” culture. Kiesow, now the Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Producing at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, defines important terms and provides checklists to help you kickstart your efforts.

+ Welcome to the Reader Revenue Toolkit: Our ongoing collection of practical guides and resources to help publishers get started or go to the next level with their reader revenue strategies


How The Texas Tribune made statehouse coverage sustainable (Medium, Global Editors Network)

The Texas Tribune came into business to solve a problem: the insufficient coverage of public policy and politics in Texas. Founder and CEO Evan Smith and chief product officer Rodney Gibbs explain how its “promiscuous” approach to revenue has helped it remain profitable since its third year. “We haven’t had a single revenue source that we’ve really depended on,” said Gibbs. “Some of our peers in the nonprofit world really depend on foundations or philanthropists who write big checks.” The Tribune does rely on donations from individual members as well as big donors, but other revenue buckets include corporate underwriting, rentals, paid speaking engagements, agreements to have Tribune content republished (the education publisher Pearson is one client), and newsroom partnerships. “It’s been really nice having these multiple buckets,” said Gibbs. “If any one bucket goes lower or goes away, it may sting, but it’s not fatal.”

+ BuzzFeed News’ Ben Smith: “Every company needs diverse business models” (Digiday)


German publishers unite on unified log-in to combat the Facebook/Google duopoly (Digiday)

In two weeks, an alliance of 20 media, e-commerce, agency ISP businesses in Germany will officially launch a unified consumer login product, created to give consumers total control of their data privacy and consent settings, which are now stricter under the General Data Protection Regulation. The concept is that any user who creates a login will be assigned a centralized privacy-settings center that they can manage, and that will work across all the sites and digital properties of the partners. “This is the European market’s last chance to change this [imbalance],” said Sven Bornemann, CEO of Germany’s online marketers association AGOF. “With the dominance of Google and Facebook, user data is drifting away to the walled gardens and leaving the German market, meaning publishers and agencies are’t able to use that data anymore.”

+ Journalist who spread conspiracy theories will oversee Italy’s state TV (The New York Times)


How brands can develop a closer relationship with consumers through messaging (AdWeek)

Messaging can be a valuable way for businesses to connect with customers, writes Jackie Pimentel; especially as surveys show it’s increasingly becoming customers’ preferred method of communication. Done right, messaging maximizes personal connections while addressing specific needs, without being too intrusive. “When thinking about your messaging strategy, it really comes down to digging into why people are messaging your business in the first place,” writes Pimentel. Developing a system to rapidly (or better yet, instantaneously) respond to inquiries is a good first step. “Don’t be afraid to start small. You may begin using messaging just to complete simple tasks or respond to questions, and then based on the signal you get from your customers, you can start expanding your messaging offering.” News organizations can think about integrating messaging at various touch points with customers, such as while purchasing a subscription, completing a survey, or even sourcing story ideas.  

+ Related: How GroundSource enables journalists to connect with communities via text messaging and messaging apps (Better News)


How the media encourages — and sustains — political warfare (Nieman Lab)

News organizations might frame themselves as the besieged party in President Trump’s “war” on the media. But what if they’re as much to blame as the president in this back-and-forth? And what if readers are to blame as well? In an unpublished manuscript titled The War of Words, the late rhetorical theorist and cultural critic Kenneth Burke cast the media as agents of political warfare. Burke urged readers to recognize the role they also play in sustaining polarization. He also pointed to how seemingly innocuous features in a news story can actually compromise values readers might hold, whether it’s debating the issues further, finding points of consensus, or, ideally, avoiding war.


The great White House reporter glow-up (GQ)

Journalists from old-guard print publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post who once toiled in relative obscurity — working the phones and appearing in public mostly through their bylines or Twitter profile pictures — have vaulted to nationwide prominence as on-call talking heads for networks like CNN and MSNBC, writes Joel Pavelski. High-profile reporters like the Post’s Robert Costa and David Fahrenthold have landed contributor contracts designed by cable-news networks to give their shows a competitive edge with immediate access to context and analysis by the same person who first reports a major scoop. “For better or worse, we’re all swept up in this thing,” said Eli Stokols, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and an MSNBC correspondent. “We’re all getting asked to be on TV all the time, people who cover this White House. Most of us who cover it, even people who had no designs to ever be on television, have gotten used to it.”

+ Related: What do newspapers gain by having their journalists appear on TV and radio? (Editor & Publisher)