Need to Know: September 3, 2019

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


You might have heard: 50% of U.S. teens are getting their news from YouTube, but not from news organizations (AdWeek)

But did you know: Under 35s are less loyal to traditional news brands and mostly prefer social media and news aggregators (Reuters Institute)

A new Reuters Institute report casts doubt on traditional news organizations’ ability to attract the next generation of consumers. Young people surveyed said they perceive reporting from traditional news outlets as too negative and depressing, with headlines feeling narrow and repetitive. Many said that reading the news feels like “a bit of a chore” — which explains the popularity of new visual storytelling methods like Instagram stories and short-form videos, as well as longer but more convenient podcasts. The report also found that because there is a high level of “background” or “indirect” exposure to news through social media, young people don’t feel the need to seek out news. 

+ Earlier: “I don’t think other news sources or a lot of people are aware that young people don’t really use email addresses”: How enterprising teen journalists are aggregating and distributing news via text and social media (Teen Vogue)

+ Noted: How The Dallas Morning News explains its new website to readers (Dallas Morning News); California’s version of C-SPAN is shutting down (LA Times); Vice grows video ad revenue by 120% with its video ad product, which it launched one year ago (Digiday)


Do more reporting that is based on audience needs 

In our report “How a culture of listening strengthens reporting and relationships,” we look at ways newsrooms are listening to their communities — particularly groups that have traditionally been misrepresented or marginalized in the past — and responding to their information needs. See how you can adapt their listening strategies for your own audience.


New York Times and other publishers rely on registration wall in part to prevent Incognito users (What’s New in Publishing)   

With Chrome 76, Google rolled out new privacy protections that ensure people using Incognito Mode can’t be identified — and blocked — by publishers. At the end of July when the new browser rolled out, an estimated 33% of publishers with paywalls were affected. Google’s advice to publishers that wished to deter meter circumvention was to look into other options like “requiring free registration to view any content, or hardening their paywalls.” The New York Times implemented its registration wall last month, joining several other large publishers that rationalize the move this way: drive-by readers who aren’t willing to register aren’t worth anything to the brand, whereas those who are willing to share information in exchange for an article are far more valuable as potential subscribers.

+ Earlier: Chase readers, not storms: What we learned from Irma about reporting in a crisis (Medium, WhereByUs) 


Growing internet access and uptick in smartphone use has African publishers pivoting away from print (What’s New in Publishing)

With ongoing issues around internet access for large swathes of its population, Africa has until now retained a strong reliance on print. But as internet access and smartphone use grow hand in hand in many regions of the continent, publishers are increasingly relying on mobile-first digital strategies. “News reader apps have hit Africa in the past year — and the [leading publishers] each have millions of downloads now,” said Leonard Stiegeler, a technology and media investor. While publishers still struggle to monetize content on digital platforms, the more successful ones have been pouring their energies into news apps, podcasts, and WhatsApp newsletters.


Creating successful digital offerings depends on internal agility (MIT Sloan Management Review)

Most big, established companies are not designed to deliver a continually evolving, innovative set of digital products and services. A look at 200 companies from a variety of industries found that internal processes often hinder the ability to quickly develop new products, test them with audiences, implement feedback and roll out stronger, better versions. Companies that have found success with new digital products tend to encourage and enable digital innovation through hackathons, special funding opportunities, and new organizational units like digital innovation centers. Or they partner senior leaders with young technology staff in a kind of reverse mentoring arrangement to share knowledge of new technological capabilities.  


Inside the media industry’s struggle to take on Silicon Valley (Politico)

U.S. news companies are borrowing European strategies to combat the dual threat of Google and Facebook, including a major collaborative effort to persuade Congress to give them an exemption from antitrust law. The exemption would allow them to band together to negotiate more effectively with the two tech giants. “The European publishers have been ahead of us,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance. “The biggest lesson learned is that you need collective action by the publishers. No one publisher, even a really big publisher, in itself can impact the relationship with the platforms. You need everybody to coordinate.”


TikTok courts publishers with weekly newsletter previewing trending hashtags (Digiday)

TikTok is trying to help publishers find success on the platform with an “insider” newsletter that it’s been quietly sending to a select group of media companies. The newsletter lists the top trending hashtags that it  plans to promote on its “Discover” tab in the upcoming week, and for each hashtag links to a live post on its platform that is meant to serve as an example for the kinds of videos that publishers could produce to tie into the trend. “The newsletter is one element of TikTok’s broader media company charm offensive,” writes Tim Peterson, which also includes early access to new features like live streaming, verified accounts, and access to events and a private Slack channel for creators. 

+ Earlier: How The Washington Post amassed 78,000 TikTok followers in three months (