Need to Know: Friday, May 26, 2023

Editor’s note: API will be taking Monday off for Memorial Day. We’ll see you Tuesday, May 30. Have a great weekend! 


What do local news consumers want? The answer depends on the publication and the community it serves. But a new report from The American Journalism Project, based on a survey of 5,000 people in eight markets across the country, provides some useful insights. AJP identified nine themes that stood out in its research, including the notion that people overwhelmingly see value in local news — when it really is local. In a bid to reinvigorate its hundreds of papers across the country, Gannett has launched an initiative called “Project Breakthrough,” putting a longtime Tennessean editor in charge. Meanwhile, the Institute for Nonprofit News reported a growth in membership of 17% in 2022. (AJP, The Tennessean, INN)


These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

As staff shield Feinstein from the press, a picture really is worth a thousand words. ​​Kent Nishimura, a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times based in Washington, D.C., writes about the cat-and-mouse game of photographing legislators — and how Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her staff have upped the game. (L.A. Times)

A news editor quit The Messenger days before launch: ‘That’s not journalism.’ Days before the much-hyped launch of The Messenger, Kristin Bender, a west coast breaking news editor, resigned from the new outlet because of frustrations with its aggregation model. (The Daily Beast)

7 news outlets reimagining political journalism in smart ways. Political journalism is in crisis, Perry Bacon, Jr. writes. But he identified seven news organizations he says are doing good work by addressing the craft’s shortcomings. (The Washington Post)  


Navigating burnout as a journalist 

Some 70% of journalists have experienced work-related burnout, according to a recent survey. API’s Sam Ragland offers a “starter pack” for journalists to address the problem, including exercises to help you begin self-prescribing a specific remedy for burnout and offer a chance to give yourself permission to delay a meeting, eat lunch or take a walk. She also offers ways for newsroom managers to begin shifting the culture of their organization to address burnout.

The power of listening: How Louisville Public Media shifted from making news about Black people to making it for and with them (Better News)

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Understand your opportunities for audience growth through research, experimentation and listening. Change your reporting process to focus more on making news for and with local Black communities instead of just about them. Louisville Public Media had been doing internal work to serve Black and brown communities when Breonna Taylor was killed in 2020. This pushed LPM to shift its diversity work more externally, including holding focus groups with Black residents to understand their news consumption habits.  

+ 5 things to know about Louisville Public Media’s initiative to build trust in the Black community (Better News)

+ Trust Tip: Explain your sourcing to head off assumptions that journalists choose their sources to push an agenda (Trusting News)

+ API welcomes new RJI Innovation Fellow Han Vu

SPECIAL EDITION: Transitioning to GA4

Each Monday, Need to Know shares a special edition series focusing on top issues impacting today’s newsrooms. This month we’re featuring a four-part series from API Newsroom Success Manager Shay Totten on tips to ensure that your migration to Google Analytics 4 is successful and relatively painless — well before the July 1 deadline. 

A closer look at reports

One of the first comments we heard from newsrooms who started setting up a GA4 instance — aside from, “Why, Google … why?!” — was “Where are my reports?”

As with almost everything else in GA4, when compared to Universal Analytics, reports are different. You can’t really map UA reports to GA4, because as we’ve noted, user definitions have changed. In addition, Data Studio has been replaced by Looker Studio. 

But once you get the feel for it, you’ll be able to set up ongoing reports and even pin them to the left-hand dropdown menu under “Reports.” That said, getting to that point will likely be frustrating. And we heard reports of call limits being reached in relatively small newsrooms who are pushing data from GA4 into Looker, which of course pauses data to populate. If you are one of those newsrooms, you’re in luck! Google clearly heard the complaints and fixed the issue. 

To help everyone navigate the new reporting functions, we were joined in April for a Q&A session on Reports in GA4 with Nicole Rocchio, a global news consumer insights lead at Google. You can watch the full conversation here. 

You can also read this week’s full installment, including some FAQs from Shay, here. 

+ Next week (Tuesday), we’ll have a short wrap-up with some examples of how things are going at a couple of newsrooms that have braved the transition ahead of the July 1 deadline. 


+ She started an aid network for laid-off journalists and it spread like wildfire (Poynter) 

+ The complexities and nuances of transgender coverage (CJR)

+ Decades old? No problem: Publisher makes a bet on aging books (The New York Times)