Need to Know: September 27, 2022


You might have heard: Why news outlets are getting into games again (Nieman Lab) 

But did you know: Is the print newspaper comics page in trouble? (The Washington Post) 

Lee Enterprises recently “streamlined” its offering of comics, games and advice columns, leading many newspapers to cut back on — or entirely eliminate — their print comics. This comes not long after News Corp Australia said it was dropping comics from its papers. Comic artists say the future of their comic strips in digital versions is unclear, and many have lost longtime clients after Lee’s decision. Readers have lamented the loss, with some pointing out that comics are often a child’s first exposure to newspapers.  

+ Noted: 2022 Online Journalism Awards winners include The Boston Globe, LAist, The Trace and Mission Local (Online Journalism Awards)


What news publishers do to retain subscribers

API surveyed news publishers across the United States to find out what they are — and aren’t — doing to retain subscribers and decrease churn. Nine key retention strategies emerged, as well as several areas where many publishers say they need help. From our conversations with publishers, we also put together a list of 31 effective subscriber-retention ideas to use.


Why The Tennessean hired a full-time First Amendment beat reporter (The Tennessean) 

Thanks to a grant from the non-partisan Freedom Forum through Journalism Funding Partners, The Tennessean has added Angele Latham as a full-time reporter to focus on First Amendment issues, writes editor Michael A. Anastasi. Latham will cover issues like press freedom and religious liberty in Tennessee and throughout the South. Anastasi writes that this focus will encourage a deeper look at the Constitutional significance of issues that are often covered by media, legal or religious reporters, and will allow the paper “to consistently focus more attention and develop sophisticated storytelling around these critical freedoms.” 


How independent Russian media seeks new revenue sources in times of severe censorship (The Fix) 

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, media in the country has been heavily censored. St Petersburg newspaper Bumaga lost most of its advertisers, who were worried that they would be targeted by the government if their ads ran alongside controversial or banned content. To recoup some revenue, Bumaga has started charging for access to a VPN service, which allows users in Russia to access content blocked by the government, and those outside the country to access restricted Russian sites. Meanwhile, Novaya Gazeta.Europe, which was launched by former journalists of Novaya Gazeta who have left the country, has been buoyed by a membership structure aimed at Europeans and Americans. 

+ Related: Five ways independent news media get around censorship in Russia (The Fix) 


Interest in dangerous ‘NyQuil chicken’ videos surged after agency warning (The Guardian) 

Two weeks ago, the FDA released a warning to discourage people from cooking chicken in NyQuil, a “social media video challenge” that was apparently spreading on TikTok. But, reports Dani Anguiano, searches for the challenge rose substantially after the FDA announcement, from five on Sept. 14 to 7,000 on Sept. 21. These types of extreme challenges put officials in a difficult place; people have died from attempting stunts like the “Benadryl challenge” or the “blackout challenge.” TikTok diverted all searches for chicken NyQuil to a warning about the challenge. 


Hell is a world in which everybody writes like Axios (The New Republic) 

Axios is famous for its bullet-pointed “smart brevity” style, and the site’s founders have recently published a book promoting this style of abbreviated writing. But, argues Timothy Noah, the style is actually harder to read and absorb than traditional prose. While traditional news articles can, and often are, skimmed for relevant detail, Axios’s chopped up — what Noah calls “pre-chewed” — format makes it harder to quickly grasp the relevant points of a story. “Axios-ese is spreading like a noxious weed to other publications, doing violence to the mother tongue, dumbing down the news, and, ironically, impeding communication,” he warns. 


Las Vegas Review-Journal demands police not search slain reporter’s devices (Poynter) 

After the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, police have seized his electronic devices. But the newspaper is seeking to protect confidential information from German’s reporting, which may include details from sources who are involved in the murder investigation. The Review-Journal says that German’s reporting details are protected by Nevada’s shield law and that the police violated federal law in seizing the reporter’s work product materials. A local official, Robert Telles, has been arrested in connection with German’s murder.