Need to Know: September 14, 2023


You might have heard: Gen Z and Millennials who pay for or donate to news are more likely to live in urban neighborhoods rather than rural communities (Media Insight Project)

But did you know: Groundbreaking study of local news habits of Oklahomans will launch Trusting News training to fund projects (Oklahoma Media Center)

A new study on where underserved rural and metro communities in Oklahoma get their local news found that Facebook and community word of mouth are primary sources of news for residents in rural areas. The study, which looked at what information they believe or trust and what would make them financially support local journalism, found that most people don’t pay for news subscriptions, especially local news. However, residents indicated more trust in local news if a local person is in charge of it, but still prefer to access it for free and on social media. Trusting News will help Oklahoma Media Center partner newsrooms implement the study’s recommendations to connect with communities.

+ Noted: White House sends letter to news execs urging outlets to ‘ramp up’ scrutiny of GOP’s Biden impeachment inquiry ‘based on lies’ (CNN); ‘I log into a torture chamber each day’: the strain of moderating social media (The Guardian); Who has a role to play in our civic infrastructure? (North Carolina Local News Lab)


How community listening can help shape election-year coverage

Newsrooms can learn a lot about their communities by simply listening to their audiences, a practice that is often more productive when journalists put the notebook down and just let people say what’s on their minds. Drawing on election-related listening experiments fueled by API grants to 31 news organizations in 2022, Susan Benkelman captured four key lessons from these projects. A big one: Audience listening helps newsrooms — not politicians — set their coverage agenda.

Table Stakes monthly program: Exploring how Gen Z & Millennials pay for or donate to news

Alumni of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program are invited to join a virtual session from 1 to 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sept. 19 about how younger audiences engage with, pay for or donate to news. 

The hour will include a recap of API’s research with The Media Insight Project on Gen Z and Millennial perceptions about news by API’s director of strategic partnerships and research, Kevin Loker. A panel discussion with representatives from news organizations working to engage with younger audiences will follow, featuring The Green Line’s Anita Li, NWT Media’s Patric Hamsch and The Sumter Item’s Alaysha Maple. Register here.


How new technology at Daily Mail and Sun is growing digital revenues (Press Gazette)

The Daily Mail launched its Mail+app in 2013 as an iPad product that allows print subscribers access to a digital replica of the Daily Mail. The concept remains true today, and despite the fact that readers can access all Daily Mail articles on the outlet’s website, Mail+ app subscriptions have continued to grow and now contribute “substantial” revenue. Product director Simon Regan-Edwards noted that Mail+ also includes puzzles, podcasts and “finder” search functions for recipes and TV shows, which he attributes to the draw of the app — 55% of subscribers use Mail+ seven days a week.


Can journalism do a better job covering climate change? (Cosmos)

Following a summer of devastating natural disasters, the media has done a better job of connecting extreme weather with climate change, but a lot of reporting now takes a nihilistic tone, writes Petra Stock. Instead, journalists should balance their impartiality with the scientific prerogative to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Reporters, she writes, should approach climate stories with an underlying assumption that action must be taken, a focus on how climate solutions are a win for everyone, an emphasis on the human side of the story and tools to help readers spot misinformation.


In a first, spyware is found on phone of prominent Russian journalist (Washington Post)

Galina Timchenko, owner of the Russian news outlet Meduza, went to Germany earlier this year for a meeting with other Russian journalists. During that time, her iPhone appears to have been infected with Pegasus spyware, according to researchers who investigated her phone. Meduza was labeled an “undesirable organization” by Russia earlier this year, putting the Kremlin at the top of the list of suspects who may have infected Timchenko’s phone. Pegasus can be installed remotely and gives the hackers access to the phone’s contents, microphone and camera. Spyware poses particular threats to journalists, their sources and, thus, to democracy, experts say.


After layoffs, Gannett is hiring Taylor Swift and Beyoncé journalists (The Washington Post)

Job listings from Gannett seeking reporters to cover Taylor Swift and Beyoncé went viral — not only for their singular focus, but because Gannett-owned local newsrooms have seen a string of painful layoffs over the past year. In 2022, Gannett laid off 400 people in August and cut another 6% of its staff in December. Both journalists will work remotely for USA Today and the Tennessean in Nashville, where Swift got her start. 


Good night and good luck: The end of The Clayton Crescent, which led coverage of Georgia election interference (The Clayton Crescent)

Robin Kemp started The Clayton Crescent during the Covid-19 lockdown, and her site reached international fame when she broke the story of ballot tabulation interference in Georgia on the night of the 2020 elections. She used donations from that publicity to formalize the outlet as a nonprofit and went on to reshape local news and transparency in Clayton County. However, Kemp is now shuttering the Crescent due to dwindling funding, and in her goodbye letter details how the lack of a board and more staff hampered the Crescent’s ability to fundraise, both within the community and through grants. Kemp is joining The Current as an accountability reporter.