Need to Know: September 17, 2021


A Wall Street Journal investigation found that graduate students with a master’s degree in journalism struggle to earn enough to make progress paying off their loans. At Northwestern University in particular, graduate students borrowed three times more than undergraduate journalism students — and earned less money. And although newsroom jobs continue to shrink, the Journal investigation found that journalism schools — whose master’s degrees aren’t necessary for entry to the field — are continuing to produce nearly as many graduates as they did 20 years ago.


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week.

How to calm your newsroom’s metrics anxiety and use analytics to grow. Lack of clarity on what to do about audience data can leave journalists frustrated. But some analytics tools take care of data interpretation themselves. For example,, the Globe and Mail’s proprietary AI program, uses the data it collects to place 99% of website content, with only the top three slots manually programmed by homepage editors.

The National Trust for Local News is trying to build a $300 million fund to help save local news. The trust will dispense venture capital, not grants, to local news outlets. The goal is to eventually build a rotating $300 million venture philanthropy fund, attracting investors who can help develop business models for serving small-town news deserts.

Clubhouse has hired an NPR vet as head of news. The move marks the live audio app’s effort to bring more news organizations onto its platform. Several newsrooms have experimented with the app; having their reporters host conversations with users on topics they’re reporting on. Other newsrooms are using Clubhouse competitor Twitter Spaces.


Welcome API’s new Director of Inclusion and Audience Growth, Letrell Deshan Crittenden

API is excited to announce that Letrell Deshan Crittenden will join our team as the first Director of Inclusion and Audience Growth on Monday, Sept. 20. Dr. Crittenden joins API from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where he was program director and assistant professor of communication. He specializes in issues related to diversity and inclusion in news and community-engaged journalism. In his new role, Dr. Crittenden will build upon API’s work in the area of organizational and cultural change and deepen the organization’s focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

+ API this week announced that 10 local news organizations will receive funding through the Local News Ideas-to-Action Fund, our new initiative to support accountability and government reporting that better prioritizes the needs of local communities. The news organizations selected will begin their projects this month, all of which involve experimenting with new forms of audience-centered journalism.

+ On Sept. 28, API is hosting an hour-long free webinar on subscriber retention. Hear from Newsday and the Spokesman-Review on how they have revamped their retention strategies to reduce churn of digital subscribers. Register for free here.


+ “Don’t freak out yet”: Publishers brace for iOS privacy changes that could affect their newsletter businesses (Digiday)

+ How — and why — social media media companies should dial down engagement (Nieman Lab)

+ Why a court ruling allowing U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes’ lawsuit against Hearst Media reporter Ryan Lizza to proceed sets a dangerous precedent for defamation lawsuits (Techdirt)