Need to Know: October 6, 2021


You might have heard: For-profit newsrooms are adding philanthropy as another way to make money (Poynter)

But did you know: This could make it easier for audiences to support their favorite newsrooms (Poynter)

On Tuesday, News Revenue Hub and the Google News Initiative announced a new product to help newsrooms raise money through donations. Called the News Revenue Engine, the open-source product will integrate platforms like Stripe, Mailchimp and Salesforce, and provide more payment options through integrations with Google Pay, Apple Pay, Microsoft Pay and Automated Clearing House (ACH)/direct debit. It will also make it easier for membership managers to create fundraising pages and manage reports, and for donors to manage their payments and generate tax receipts. The News Revenue Engine will launch next year, but for now, 11 newsrooms are taking part in a pilot of it.

+ Noted: Scroll’s ad-free subscription web service is shutting down in 30 days and will be rolled into Twitter’s new subscription platform, Twitter Blue (The Verge); Dallas Morning News rejects ad hammering AT&T for backing sponsors of Texas abortion bill, Democratic super PAC says (CNBC)


Trust tip: Building trust is about trying to be better (Trusting News)

It’s difficult for journalists to stay open-minded when faced with accusations of bias or other criticisms of their work. But if we get defensive and shut down, who else will do the hard work of rebuilding trust? “Let’s not say: Prove us wrong,” writes Trusting News’ Lynn Walsh. “Let’s say: How can we be better? How could this story be better? What do you still not understand? What do you still want to know?” Then use that feedback to improve future stories — and tell your audience about it, like in this example from the Chicago Tribune. Sign up for weekly Trust Tips here, and learn more about the Trusting News project — including how your newsroom can get free coaching — here.


How to track the impact of solutions journalism (Twitter, @soljourno)

The Solutions Journalism Network has published a guide for tracking the impact of a solutions-focused collaborative journalism project. The guide is divided into steps that participants can follow as they embark on the project, including a handy template for tracking content production, audience engagement activities, cross-publishing and impact. But for those looking for metrics for an individual story or series, here’s a quick list of 22 impact examples to keep an eye out for.

+ How the Detroit Free Press uses an annual impact report to show how its journalism drives change (Better News)


The BBC’s new social media guidelines ban ‘virtue signalling’ and criticizing colleagues (Press Gazette)

The BBC is upholding its new social media policy introduced under Director-General Tim Davie, having formally disciplined four journalists who broke with the guidelines. The policy bans any social media activity that could be interpreted as impartiality; including criticizing colleagues, breaking news on journalists’ personal accounts, using emojis (which can ​​“undercut an otherwise impartial post”), and “virtue signalling,” which includes “retweets, likes or joining online campaigns to indicate a personal view, no matter how apparently worthy the cause.” The guidelines also warn staff against linking to anything they haven’t read in full and being “drawn into ill-tempered exchanges.”

+ Report for the World has doubled the size of its program since launching in February, and is launching in Brazil and expanding in Nigeria and India (Report for the World)


After pandemic layoffs, a local news company seeks subscribers on Substack (New York Times)

Examiner Media, which publishes free weekly newspapers in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, has launched a digital magazine on Substack. Subscribers to the magazine can pay $5.99 per month or $49.99 a year. Examiner was one of the 12 recipients of Substack’s $1 million initiative to support local journalism with grants. It will receive $75,000 from Substack as well as 15% of the first-year revenue from the magazine (and 90% after that), which will allow the team to rebuild after laying off employees during the pandemic. “If we can crack the code,” said publisher Adam Stone, “we can announce the blueprint to the wider world. All community newspapers could follow this model.”


Ozy shows that serious Black media needs a new business model (New York Times)

The Ozy scandal shows how few paths there are to profitability for “serious” Black media, writes Lauren Williams. Successful subscription models are few and far in between, and advertising-based models are also fraught with difficulty — particularly for Black media. “Advertisers want to say they support Black-run media,” writes Williams, “but they’re terrified of the topics and stories that a lot of Black-run media companies might be most mission-driven to publish and audiences might be most attracted to … Ozy was the white whale — the perfect, brand-safe opportunity for folks to say they were supporting a Black media company, even if the only Black person being supported in the process was [CEO Carlos] Watson.”


Local news and media capture: a Q&A with Phil Napoli (Columbia Journalism Review)

The term “media capture” has traditionally been used by economists and political scientists to describe countries that are democratic on paper but nevertheless have their media under “soft control.” With the rise of news networks owned by wealthy political activists, the U.S. is “on the cusp of this becoming a significant problem at the local level,” says media scholar Phil Napoli. “There is an emerging form of local news outlet that is filling the void left by the decline of traditional local news sources, that is operating under a very different model of journalism. This includes taking payment from political party operatives to produce stories designed to have a very specific political outcome.”