Need to Know: November 30, 2021


You might have heard: Alden Global Capital mounts takeover bid for Lee Enterprises (Poynter)

But did you know: Lee Enterprises adopts ‘poison pill’ as it weighs Alden offer (St. Louis Dispatch)

Shortly before the Thanksgiving break, Lee Enterprises announced a plan to guard against a takeover by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, one that could dilute its stock and make it more expensive for Alden to acquire a controlling stake in the company. Lee Chairman Mary Junck said the plan would give Lee executives and shareholders more time to consider Alden’s offer to buy the newspaper company for $141 million, or $24 per share, which is 30% higher than its market value on Friday before the break. Alden acquired Tribune Publishing this summer, which had also adopted a “poison pill” approach that didn’t ultimately stave off Alden’s takeover.

+ Noted: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down (Nieman Lab)


How the Long Beach Post’s community editorial board provides more than opinion

In the summer of 2020, the Long Beach Post launched a community editorial board, made up of seven local residents with vastly different backgrounds, who would write opinion pieces and editorials, identify possible stories for Post reporters to pursue, and even serve as sources. Community engagement editor Stephanie Rivera explains the Post’s approach to forming and running the inaugural board, what they learned, and what they’ll do differently the next time around.

+ Related: On Wednesday, Dec. 1, join this free 30-minute lightning chat hosted by Gather to hear from Rivera and The Oaklandside’s Cole Goins on how to deepen local news coverage through community boards (Gather)


A playbook for generating revenue from solutions journalism (Solutions Journalism Network)

The Solutions Journalism Network has published a resource to help news entrepreneurs and journalists understand how solutions journalism can generate revenue. The playbook contains case studies and advice from news organizations that participated in the Solutions Journalism Revenue Project pilot program and earned nearly $1.5 million in new revenue related to solutions journalism between 2019 and 2021. It covers philanthropic revenue streams like grants, sponsorships and underwriting; as well as how to position your solutions journalism as a marketable editorial product.

+ Related: In a free webinar on Dec. 2, the Solutions Journalism Network will give an overview of the playbook and feature lightning presentations from newsrooms, followed by a Q+A (Solutions Journalism Network)


UK publishers launch plan to mitigate loss of traffic when sources aren’t properly cited (Digiday)

Publishers in the U.K. have come together to establish a standardized way to cite sources, hoping to prevent original reporting from going uncited (and therefore unseen). The system will revolve around specific attribution emails for each participating publisher (, for example), which publishers can use to alert each other when original sources are going uncited. Links back to original reporting should also follow a consistent format. “Every publisher wants its original reporting to get the visibility in search results, especially the top stories, that they deserve,” said Carly Steven, head of SEO at The Sun. “Unfortunately we don’t feel like that’s always the case. Despite Google’s best efforts to try and reward original content, there are inconsistencies in the way publishers have been linking to and identifying the original source of stories.”


How publishers can get the most from polls, quizzes and Q&As (The Fix)

Research has shown that news quizzes and polls encourage readers to spend more time on a publisher’s website and help them retain more of what they’re reading. They can also be a great feedback-gathering tool for journalists. BBC News and The New York Times publish weekly news quizzes, the German Der Spiegel publishes a weekly football quiz, and USA Today uses quizzes to register new users. The Wall Street Journal organized its coronavirus reporting into Q&A format, helping readers quickly locate the information they most wanted. And Slate created a quiz that lets readers test their knowledge against that of newsroom staffers. “[A quiz] gives people something to look at, an object to think with,” says MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle. “I think these quizzes are a kind of focus for attention for thinking about yourself.”


Should Omicron be a top story, given the uncertainty surrounding it? (Columbia Journalism Review)

There’s very little scientists know yet about Omicron, the new coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa earlier this month. Yet coverage of it has swelled, causing some scientists and media analysts to question whether Omicron deserves such a spotlight. “The more useful question here, perhaps, is not whether Omicron should be the top story of the day, but how we ought to be thinking about it, given that it is,” writes Jon Allsop. “It’s possible to be clear about uncertainty rather than tripping over it, and I saw a good amount of coverage in major outlets that did center what we don’t know about Omicron.” Breathlessly covering each new case of Omicron cropping up abroad isn’t necessarily helpful, Allsop added; but coverage of the new travel bans being imposed and global vaccine equity could add valuable context to a situation where so little is known.


Now nonprofit, The Salt Lake Tribune has achieved something rare for a local newspaper: financial sustainability (Nieman Lab)

The Salt Lake Tribune, which celebrated its 150-year anniversary this year, is the first and only major newspaper to go nonprofit. It barely escaped being bought by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital in 2016, then suffered severe layoffs two years later. In 2019, the Tribune announced its intention to become a nonprofit, and in a note to readers earlier this month, executive editor Lauren Gustus wrote, “We are sustainable in 2021, and we have no plans to return to a previously precarious position,” adding that the newsroom has grown by 23% in the last year and plans to continue hiring. Its revenue comes chiefly from subscriptions, advertising and donations; its “supporting subscribers” make an annual contribution of $150 while members of its First Amendment Society pledge to donate at least $1,000 per year.