Need to Know: August 9, 2022


You might have heard: Axios agrees to sell itself to Cox Enterprises (The New York Times) 

But did you know: Axios sells for $525 million, to a company that seemed to be getting out of the media business (Nieman Lab) 

Axios, the newsletter-driven outlet that launched five years ago with its concise, bullet-point pieces, has been acquired by Cox Enterprises in a deal worth $525 million. Cox, a family-owned company, has pivoted away from newspapers in recent decades and seemed to be moving away from the media business entirely, writes Joshua Benton. He theorizes that CEO Alex Taylor — the great-grandson of Cox’s founder, James M. Cox — is looking to put his own stamp on the company’s legacy and establish himself as a media mogul. Taylor may also be hoping to get more involved with Washington politics via Axios’ inside-the-beltway audience. 

+ Related: For Axios Local, sale to Cox will mean fresh cash and momentum for growth (Poynter) 

+ Noted: The Listening Post Collective launches a start-up course for civic media (Listening Post Collective)


American Press Institute names Samantha Ragland as Vice President of Journalism Programs

API announced today that Samantha Ragland, an experienced journalist, educator and digital strategist, will join our team as Vice President of Journalism Programs. Ragland is currently a member of the faculty at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, where she also serves as director of the Leadership Academy for Women in Media. In her new role, Ragland will lead API’s efforts to promote cultural transformation and business sustainability in media, helping news organizations serve diverse readers and communities more effectively. Her portfolio will include the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program and Beyond Print, our newest initiative in partnership with The Lenfest Institute to help guide publishers away from print-centric revenue models.  


In wake of Dobbs decision, newsrooms expand coverage of reproductive health (Current)

Two regional public radio collaboratives in areas affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade are hiring reporters focused on reproductive health. The Gulf States Newsroom will have a reporter to work in Jackson, Mississippi, on a year-long contract, and Ohio Valley ReSource established a permanent role in Lexington, Kentucky. These collaboratives play an important role in offering robust local news coverage in areas that often don’t garner media attention, and the model works well for covering reproductive legislation, the impact of which often extends beyond state lines. “Especially in Appalachia and the Ohio Valley, where there are areas that are very poor, we feel that the need for reporting on this particular issue is really important,” said Mike Savage, director and general manager of WEKU in Lexington.


Winnipeg Free Press realigns newsletter strategy based on reader feedback (International News Media Association) 

The Winnipeg Free Press operates a slate of newsletters which are overseen by a cross-departmental working group. The group, which includes staffers from editorial, product, digital and advertising, monitors the newsletters’ progress and pitches new newsletter ideas. Based on feedback from a recent user survey, the group realized that a gardening newsletter was a major interest for readers. The Winnipeg Gardener now has 4,600 subscribers, putting it in line with many other newsletters after only three editions, and is earning revenue from paid advertising. 


We live in notification hell (The Verge)

Notifications for apps on iOS and Android phones have become ubiquitous, screen-hogging attention seekers, writes Allison Johnson. “Notification hell” has become more common as companies like Apple have allowed developers to send marketing notifications as long as a user has opted in. Digital assistants like Siri try to predict what a user might need and send notifications to nudge them along, and the tools to manage notifications are often too complicated to rely on. “That sums up our situation: we are trapped in notification hell, and there will be no rescue,” writes Johnson. “We have a couple of meager tools at our hands, but the onus is on us to find our way out.” 


Why does the New York Times prosper while Gannett struggles? (Poynter)

Last week, The New York Times posted an impressive operating profit, while Gannett announced a bleak operating loss. They have similar revenues, but the Times has the advantage of producing content for a massive audience from one hub, while Gannett is still producing individual content for more than 200 papers. The Times used to own several regional papers, but offloaded them — many to Gannett — to focus on its core product. The Times’ success is partly due to good luck — it has no debt and can spend money on innovative products — and partly due to the foresight to push ahead on digital descriptions a decade before Gannett began instituting paywalls, writes Rick Edmonds. 

+ Related: While Gannett journalists brace for layoffs, those at the top rake in big bucks (Media Nation) 


The time for more diverse leaders in newsrooms is now (The GroundTruth Project)

Despite efforts in recent years, newsrooms don’t reflect the ethnic and racial makeup of the communities they cover, writes Charles M. Sennott, founder and CEO of The GroundTruth Project. He writes that leaders from the twin National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists conferences made clear that journalists of color are desperately needed in newsroom leadership. “As the racial and ethnic composition of America changes, newsrooms need to have staff that can understand the challenges facing those communities, how policy or the lack of it affect their quality of life and how they contribute to strengthening the fabric of society,” writes Sennott.