How to center your audience in your candidate forums 

On June 27, President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump will face off on CNN for their first televised debate of the 2024 presidential election. One unusual step — there will be no live audience, which Tom Jones at Poynter writes will likely benefit Biden. 

But elsewhere on Poynter, Jennifer Brandel writes that local news outlets should be putting their audiences front and center. She writes that instead of hosting a traditional town hall with candidates, news outlets should host a “reverse town hall” instead — where candidates listen to constituents rather than talk to them. 

The Current in Lafayette, Louisiana did just this, working with a local organization that supports young professionals to host a reverse town hall focused on issues of concern to young people in the area. Stories from eight “youth representatives” were supplemented by data gathered by The Current. All local politicians running for office were invited; 20 showed up, including all of the mayoral candidates and candidates for most of the local council seats.

News In Focus
Headlines, resources and events aligned with API’s four areas of focus.

Civic Discourse & Democracy

>> More Americans want the journalists they get news from to share their politics than any other personal trait (Pew Research Center)

A recent survey found that 39% of Americans said it was at least somewhat important that the journalists they get their news room share their political beliefs. The next most important shared traits were religious views (22%) and talking or sounding like them (20%). 

>> Join us today: Election insights: Understanding public preferences for news coverage for 2024 

The News/Media Alliance and American Press Institute will present top findings from the Media Insight Project’s newly released survey about election insights. The exclusive webinar for N/MA members will include practical resources to help publishers engage with their communities, and work to instill confidence and trust in their election reporting this election season. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, May 22 from 2 – 2:45 pm ET. 

Culture & Inclusion

>> 10 ways DEI went wrong and what to do now (Brevity & Wit)

In a reflection on the past and future of DEI, Minal Bopaiah writes that the way DEI was implemented in many places in 2020 was ad-hoc and unsustainable. She writes that it is time for those in DEI to learn from their mistakes and get better about communicating their goals. 

>> After criticism over “viewpoint diversity,” NPR adds new layers of editorial oversight (Nieman Lab)

An anonymous funder is paying for NPR to add extra layers of editorial review to all of its work. 11 new positions will be created, and a formal series of “editorial briefings” will be added to allow “newsmakers and leaders in their fields” to present topics to NPR leadership. 

>> Join us: Request to join the API Local News Summit for Table Stakes Alumni 

The American Press Institute is holding a July 9 – 10 convening for the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program alumni community. If you are a news leader with experience or interest in fostering belonging and collaboration in your news organization, and are a member of the Table Stakes alumni community, please fill out this form by 11:59 p.m. EDT today to be considered for an invitation. 

Community Engagement & Trust

>> Trust tip: Don’t let your CMS be a hindrance to adding transparency (Trusting News) 

Transparency is a pillar of building trust in your news content, and it should be included in daily coverage to be the most effective. If you can’t change your CMS to include more elements, try creating images to add transparency elements to daily stories, using headers to make transparency easier to consume and highlighting transparency with bold text and bulleted lists. 

>> Engaging news audiences in the age of disruption (Medium, Let’s Gather)

With audiences more scattered than ever, news organizations need to do meaningful audience research to learn where they can best reach their readers. Chasing social media trends is likely to lead to burnout, but authentic interactions on messaging platforms can help build connections. 

Revenue & Resilience

>> Increasingly stress-inducing subject lines helped The Intercept surpass its fundraising goal (Nieman Lab)

As part of a two-week fundraising campaign, The Intercept’s emails included some dire language, including a subject line that read, “We’re not exaggerating. If people don’t pay for it, journalism will die.” The dramatic approach worked; the outlet added 3,500 recurring donors. 

>> As clicks dry up for news sites, could Apple’s news app be a lifeline? (Semafor)

News outlets that are suffering from less traffic from Facebook and Google are increasingly relying on money from Apple News+, a subscription service that charges users $12.99 for access to a bundle of publications. 

>> New from API: How to grow revenue and build a multigenerational audience by transforming your ‘athlete of the week’ contest (Better News) 

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Gulf Coast Media and The Sumter Item revamped their Athlete of the Week contests to attract corporate sponsors and reader engagement. 

What else you need to know

⚖️ Fraud trial to begin for Ozy founder Carlos Watson (The New York Times)

💾 38% of webpages that existed in 2013 are no longer accessible a decade later (Pew Research Center) 

💸 Google threatens to pause Google News Initiative funding in U.S. (Axios) 

💰 Journalists sue Chicago Tribune owner alleging pay discrimination (The Washington Post)