Need to Know: October 5, 2021


You might have heard: Facebook is back online after a massive outage yesterday that also took down Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus (The Verge)

But did you know: Are Facebook’s best days behind it? (The New York Times)

The recent Wall Street Journal investigation of Facebook, based on leaked internal research, offers evidence of the company’s increasing vulnerability — not to the threat of government regulation, but to an increasingly disinterested user base. By Facebook’s own predictions, daily Facebook use will decline 45% by 2023, and the platform’s youngest users are the ones decamping the fastest. “Facebook is for old people,” one 11-year-old reportedly told the company’s researchers. The Journal investigation documents Facebook’s increasingly desperate attempts to stave off irrelevance, writes Kevin Roose.

+ Noted: Ozy Media is not shutting down after all, co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson says (Nieman Lab)


How the Long Beach Post’s community editorial board provides more than opinion

In the summer of 2020, the Long Beach Post launched a community editorial board, made up of seven local residents with vastly different backgrounds, who would write opinion pieces and editorials, identify possible stories for Post reporters to pursue, and even serve as sources. Community engagement editor Stephanie Rivera explains the Post’s approach to forming and running the inaugural board, what they learned, and what they’ll do differently the next time around.

+ Earlier: Want to form a community editorial or advisory board for your newsroom? Here’s what you should know; Plus, how a small-town paper is applying conflict mediation skills to its opinion content

+ Podcast: How The Tennessean has engaged Black audiences with its “Black Voices” project (It’s All Journalism)


Reporting guides and other resources for freelance journalists (European Journalism Center)

The Freelance Journalism Assembly is a collection of guides for freelancers on covering issues like climate change, gender and identity, refugees and migrations, and more. The site can be filtered by topic or resource type, and also offers advice for freelancers on navigating personal finances, copyright issues, safety and personal branding. While the networking opportunities are open only to European freelancers, the resources can be accessed by anyone.


How The Independent’s propensity model drives subscriber acquisition (What’s New in Publishing)

In 2018 The Independent, a digital news site based in the U.K., created a cross-departmental team responsible for building a tool that would identify readers most likely to subscribe. It divides readers into three groups — “fly-bys,” fans and super fans — and delivers tailored messaging encouraging them to sign up for certain newsletters, attend events, read premium articles or subscribe. “It’s worth devoting time and thought to what content works for subscription conversion and retention and being informed by the data,” said Jo Holdaway, The Independent’s chief data and marketing officer. The Independent participated in the Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab, which gave it access to consulting services while building the propensity model.


Hispanic Heritage Month highlights the year-round revenue hurdles for Spanish-language publishers (Digiday)

Both publishers and advertisers struggle to convince brands that Hispanic audiences can be reached year-round, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, writes Sara Guaglione. Hispanic people represent 20% of the U.S. population, and their buying power has grown significantly — from $213 billion in 1990 to $1.9 trillion in 2020, accounting for 11% of U.S. buying power in 2020. But ad spending tends to increase during Hispanic Heritage Month, and then shrink back down. “The change is slow,” says Iván Adaime, CEO of Impremedia, which publishes two of the oldest Spanish-language dailies in the U.S. “It is going in a good direction, but it’s not where it should be if you think about how big the population is and their spending power.”


An opinion on opinions in a pandemic (Poynter)

During a pandemic, it’s not just the reporting on it that matters — it’s the opinions shared by experts too. “The stakes of misjudging expertise and the appropriate application of data are high,” writes Amitha Kalaichandran. “One poorly supported opinion can be used to justify inaction or disobedience, which could then fuel higher transmission rates.” Kalaichandran suggests that newsroom opinion sections should have at least one editor with scientific training and experience in critically appraising research studies to judge whether a submission, regardless of the author’s titles, is supported with valid data. She also suggests creating a standard rubric for opinion editors to help assess a given “expert” op-ed.


A look at how 40 U.S. news collaboratives are currently funded (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)

The Center for Cooperative Media recently identified 40 news collaboratives operating in the U.S. “We have long known that most collaboratives in the U.S. were launched thanks to one of three main sources of funding: Public money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, private foundation support or through self-financing,” writes Stefanie Murray. However, in compiling the list of news collaboratives and their funders, Murray notes how many of the funders are pooling their resources into coalitions to better support the news organizations; that many are big-name donors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and that news collaboratives are increasingly focused on raising more individual donations or contributions.