Need to Know: September 21, 2021


You might have heard: Four McClatchy papers invest in expanded Sunday print editions (Poynter)

But did you know: 24/7 digital and Sunday-only print could be the future for local newspapers (Medill Local News Initiative)

Newspapers of all sizes have been cutting back on print days in recent years, typically eliminating weekday or Saturday papers while retaining the Sunday print edition. While subscribers have largely lost the “daily print habit,” many publishers still predict a demand for print at least one day per week. “I think it’s always going to be part of the model,” said Leonard Woolsey, president of Southern Newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma. “I think it’s a product that people appreciate, the experience of sitting down with a physical newspaper and walking through it.” Woolsey said that his newspapers’ total budgets remained the same, with the money diverted from daily print papers to digital products. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which has invested heavily in converting its subscribers to digital, is down to Sundays only for its print paper, and publisher Walter Hussman says he thinks many newspapers seem headed for Sunday-only print.

+ Earlier: How to reconcile print subscribers to fewer print days (American Press Institute)

+ Noted: The Washington Post announces the addition of 41 editing roles in “a major expansion to accelerate our transformation into a fully 24/7 news organization” (WashPost PR); Applications are open for the Solutions Journalism Network’s 2022 LEDE Fellowship (Solutions Journalism Network)


Webinar: Learn how Newsday and Spokesman-Review keep more subscribers

API’s Director of Reader Revenue Gwen Vargo will lead a free webinar on Sept. 28 about developing strategies for retaining news subscribers. Erik Zenhausern, director of acquisition and retention at Newsday and Pat Leader, the director of audience and consumer revenue at the Spokesman-Review, will share ways they have revamped their retention strategies to reduce churn of digital subscribers. Learn more and register for the conversation here.


The Washington Post and Social Spider use email to showcase the best — not just the latest — news stories (

The Washington Post last week launched “The 7,” a morning newsletter that promises to deliver short summaries of seven must-read articles to subscribers. It’s designed to take only three minutes to read, but provides a “well-balanced briefing that incorporates more than the single most-critical story dominating the news day,” says Coleen O’Lear, head of mobile strategy for the Post. Social Spider, a community news group in the U.K., also publishes a weekly roundup of the best stories from the “nooks and crannies of London.” Its goal is to focus on undercovered neighborhoods in London, not just the news coming out of parliament and the city’s bustling West End. “We want to look at how different areas are responding to, and experiencing, similar problems,” says Managing Director David Floyd. “Whether that’s gentrification, social care, flooding or environmental issues.”


How an Asian business site attracted 30,000 subscribers by publishing one story a day (Reuters Institute)

The Ken’s business model relies on not trying to compete with non-journalistic content that consumes people’s attention — at least, not by generating more content. It has published one deeply reported story per day since its launch five years ago, and is now entirely subscription-funded. “Our starting point was a way to do meaningful business journalism without falling into the trap of setting up a large newsroom to punch out lots of stories each day and rely on advertising, sponsorships and falling rates,” says CEO and co-founder Rohin Dharmakumar. “We weren’t entering a market where we would be the only thing our readers consumed, so we couldn’t ask for more than 15-20 minutes of subscribers’ time each day.” The Ken has never earned advertising or sponsorship revenue, and doesn’t plan on entering the events market. “Choosing what not to do is as important as choosing what to do,” says Dharmakumar.

+ Earlier: How to stop doing so many stories (American Press Institute)


About half of Americans get news from social media, down slightly from 2020 (Pew Research Center)

Just under half (48%) of Americans say they get at least some of their news from social media, a decline of 5% from 2020. And while Facebook is still the dominant social media source for news, there has also been a decline in the percentage of Americans who say they get their news from Facebook — from 36% in 2020 down to 31% in 2021. About a third of Americans who use Facebook say they regularly access news on the platform.

+ Twitter’s “Super Follows” program — where users pay creators to receive exclusive content — is off to an inauspicious start, generating only around $6,000 in its first two weeks (TechCrunch)


Facebook VP disputes report claiming the platform knows about multiple flaws it doesn’t fix (The Verge)

Facebook leadership is disputing a sweeping Wall Street Journal investigation that claimed the social network is aware of problems that exist across its problems, but does little to fix them. Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg wrote that the reporting “contained deliberate mischaracterizations of what we are trying to do, and conferred egregiously false motives to Facebook’s leadership and employees.” The Journal’s series has already prompted two senators to launch an investigation of their own on how Facebook-owned Instagram is harmful to teenage girls.


How the pandemic has pushed journalists to exit the industry (Digiday)

The effects of the pandemic on journalists are ongoing. Many have quit their jobs or shifted into new roles; citing burnout from working in a stressful industry made worse by the pressures of the pandemic. “The pandemic seems to be pushing journalists who were already on the verge of leaving to the brink, and those that have left are not looking back,” writes Sara Guaglione. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that journalism jobs will shrink by nearly 5% by 2030; however, this summer and fall saw a spate of journalism job postings on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn. That could be due to the “great reshuffle,” where people are leaving and changing jobs at an increased rate — a phenomenon that has been chalked up to pandemic burnout across industries.

+ Related: We can redesign newsroom jobs so that they are less stressful and more sustainable — here are some ways to start (American Press Institute)