Need to Know: October 13, 2021


You might have heard: The New York Times acquires Audm, a subscription service that narrates long-form articles (Nieman Lab)

But did you know: The New York Times tests new app as a home for audio journalism (Bloomberg)

The New York Times this week has started recruiting users to test its beta “New York Times Audio” app, which offers a single destination for all of its podcasts and other products, including audio versions of articles. It will also offer audio content from other publishers, like New York Magazine, Rolling Stone and Mother Jones, that are currently available on ​Audm. “The move could be an early step toward creating an audio subscription product,” writes Gerry Smith; although right now, the Times says it has no plans to put the app behind a paywall. Times audio programming reaches an average of 20 million listeners a month, up 31% from 2020. “There is a growing segment of people who listen to us every single day,” said Stephanie Preiss, the Times’ vice president of audio and TV. “They are giving us a signal that they want a Times audio destination.”

+ Noted: Meet the third cohort of Poynter’s 2021 Leadership Academy for Women in Media (Poynter)


API is hiring a new Executive Director

API is searching for an executive director to lead the organization and help advance its work building a more sustainable future for local news. This person will replace former Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel, who left API in August to join the faculty at the University of Maryland’s journalism school. The new executive director will work with API’s board, staff and key external stakeholders to build API’s capacity to manage and implement its strategic priorities.


Why The Telegraph thinks retiring some newsletters will actually help grow subscriptions (Digiday)

British publisher The Telegraph is betting that offering fewer, more focused newsletters will actually help grow their number of subscribers. It plans to sunset half a dozen newsletters and consolidate others after seeing a lack of engagement with them. As of now it still has about 40 editorial newsletters, eight of which are exclusive to paid subscribers. “We are seeing in a lot of newsrooms the newsletter explosion… but oftentimes it’s a product without a strategy,” said Mary Walter-Brown, the founder and CEO of the News Revenue Hub. It’s important to “have a product strategy roadmap for every newsletter that you have, and a strong understanding of success and what that looks like … so you can pivot if you’re not hitting the mark.”


Why Aftenposten is investing in audio (The Fix)

If you only have time to read one story a day — at best — is a 30€ per month subscription worth it? Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten knew that for many of its subscribers, the answer was no. So it invested in voiceover technology that would make audio versions available for all of its stories. “It feels unfortunate that we produce so much great journalism every day that very few subscribers end up reading,” says Karl Oskar Teien, director of product at Aftenposten. Being able to listen to stories while commuting or running errands significantly increases the value of a subscription, he adds. “How can we make sure that we help people make use of what they’re paying for?”

+ Earlier: Text-to-speech is the audio opportunity no one’s talking about (Digital Content Next)


The Intercept wants more philanthropy in the post-Trump era (Axios)

Investigative news outlet The Intercept is pursuing more donations from philanthropic donors and licensing deals and relying less on memberships, which have leveled off in the Biden era, reports Sara Fischer. The Intercept had nearly 70,000 paid members in the U.S. and Brazil last year, which was its biggest membership year, although this year it’s expecting a slight drop in membership. Memberships account for less than a quarter of The Intercept’s overall funding. Philanthropic donations account for most of the rest. Licensing stories for shows and podcasts is also a growing revenue stream.

+ Related: How the Post and Courier raised more than $1 million for a South Carolina-wide investigative fund and Education Lab (Better News)


Prominent Latinos urge NYT to keep publishing Spanish opinion journalism (Axios)

Two years ago The New York Times stopped creating original content for its Spanish platform, “NYT in Español,” explaining that it wasn’t “financially successful.” However, it continued to publish original Spanish opinion journalism — up until about two weeks ago. Since Sept. 28, the Times hasn’t published any op-eds that were originally written in Spanish. It had been publishing five to seven such pieces each week. Readers including former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, four other former Latin American presidents, Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro and Chilean award-winning author Isabel Allende urged publisher A.G. Sulzberger to continue “Opinión en español”; however, a Times spokesperson has said that they will focus instead on translating English-language opinion coverage into Spanish.


New owners seek to revive Missouri newspapers sold by Gannett (Missouri Independent)

Gannett has sold 12 newspapers in small communities across the U.S. as it seeks to streamline its operations. In Missouri and elsewhere, local buyers are stepping up with the goal of renewing and preserving quality local journalism. The changes will be good for both Gannett and the community newspapers under new ownership, said Mark Maassen, executive director of the Missouri Press Association. “It was no secret these newspapers were struggling,” he said. “Now with local ownership, they will get the attention they deserve.”

+ Earlier: CherryRoad Media acquires 20 newspapers in four states from Gannett (Editor & Publisher); More news outlets are going back to local ownership (Medill Local News Initiative)

Editor’s Note: Need to Know will go on a short hiatus beginning tomorrow, October 14, through Wednesday, October 20. Our writers are taking some time off. We’ll see you back here the following Thursday!