Need to Know: September 19, 2023


You might have heard: Former CNN digital chief named publisher of Atlanta Journal-Constitution (The New York Times)

But did you know: Atlanta news outlet aims for half a million digital subscribers in under four years (The Wall Street Journal) 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s new president and publisher, Andrew Morse, has plans to vastly increase the publication’s digital presence in the Southeast, with a goal of reaching 500,000 digital subscribers by the end of 2026, up from 60,000 now. Morse told Alexandra Bruell that the AJC wants to reach cities in Georgia that have experienced a decline in local coverage, including Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Augusta and Athens. The publication also plans to add new video and audio features, and will prioritize digital content. “The print paper has become a secondary consideration,” Morse told the Journal.  

+ Related: The AJC’s news release (Cision); “Some cool jobs” (X, Stephanie Lamm)  

+ Noted: New Jersey papers to end Saturday print editions (; Time doubles down on opinion content (Axios)


API’s Roberts selected for Poynter leadership academy

API’s Kamaria Roberts was named as one of 30 BIPOC journalists selected for the Poynter Institute’s seventh annual Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media. Roberts, our deputy director of local news transformation, will participate in the weeklong program, which is designed to connect and empower diverse leaders. Those selected represent new and legacy media, nonprofits and other journalism organizations, Poynter said in its release. 


Who owns reported work in AI-generated content?

From API’s Elite Truong: I find myself revisiting this Digiday article from July as I hear from local news leaders on how they’re considering using generative AI in their work, and how large-language models (LLMs) are potentially already using their work to create better responses. There has been a parallel debate on the ethical trickiness of using voices trained off of reporters to read their articles and who that voice belongs to. How is your newsroom thinking about fair use with generative AI and what content belongs to a reporter vs. the organization? We’d love to hear from you. Email me at

+ Related: AI wrote this editorial. It offers persuasive arguments for why that’s a bad idea. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) 


How to pay freelancers more without increasing your newsroom budget  (Nieman Reports) 

Too often freelancers’ time is wasted due to a lack of clarity about their assignments, writes Katherine Lewis, a freelance writer and editor who founded the Institute for Independent Journalists. She offers ways that news leaders can help freelancers by streamlining the process. The first (and biggest): be specific about the scope and expectations of the assignment. “Freelancers suffer when an assignment is unclear or editors move the goal posts during the editorial process,” she writes. Lewis also created a checklist for freelancers taking on a new client. 


National World journalists striking over ‘industry in crisis’ (BBC)

Journalists in Northern Ireland who work for the regional publisher National World are striking over pay and conditions. The publications affected include the News Letter, the oldest English language daily paper in circulation, and the Derry Journal, Ireland’s second oldest newspaper, write Michael McBride and Rebekah Wilson. The National Union of Journalists’ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said at a picket line in Belfast that journalism was becoming an “unaffordable profession” and that local journalists are having to rely on second incomes.


An ode to the newspaper sports section, as it gasps for air (The Washington Post)

With the closure of The New York Times sports desk, Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga laments what he says is a loss for everyone and poses a larger question: “The great American newspaper sports section might not be dead. But it’s unhealthy, and who knows the cure?” The modern, digital media landscape has changed sports sections, and sports writing. And The Times, Svrluga writes, was never designed for hardcore sports fans. It was a place “for deep reporting and superior writing, for stories you found few other places.”

+ Related: New York Times reporters to rally as sports desk officially closes (The Washington Post) 


Media’s political divide plays out in Maine (Semafor) 

Maine’s media landscape has become a “microcosm of the broader forces at work in the troubled American local news network,” writes Max Tani. Two left-leaning political funders, George Soros and Hansjörg Wyss, played a role in the nonprofit purchase of two dozen local newspapers in Maine, he writes. The nonprofit National Trust for Local News says that Soros’ Open Society was a contributor but that the funds were not committed specifically for the project. Meanwhile, a conservative political network is investing in Maine, too. The Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo has been funding the parent of an outlet called The Maine Wire, a small digital publication that serves as a right-wing aggregator of content explicitly focused on politics.

PQ:  “The National Trust’s purchase of the Maine newspapers represent an attempt to preserve existing local news outlets that cover local stories and public figures across the political spectrum. The Leo-backed Maine Wire is a smaller-scale, much more overtly political effort to put a conservative spin on local news in Maine.”  

– Max Tani, Semafor