TOP NEWS THIS WEEK
This week, a slew of news organizations moved ahead with using AI in their work. Semafor will use AI to help journalists with research, the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will offer a free program on how journalists can use AI in their work, the Online News Association will add programming on AI in newsrooms, and the GroundTruth Project will be adding an “AI track” for its Report for America and Report for the World members. News Corp’s chief executive said the company is in “advanced” negotiations with generative AI companies, while Politico is embracing generative AI web crawlers. In their latest research on podcasts, the Pew Research Center said they used ChatGPT to do a month’s worth of rote work in just a few days. Meanwhile, Meta has called for standardized, industry-level labels for AI-generated content. (Microsoft, Press Gazette, NiemanLab, The New York Times)
MOST POPULAR STORIES THIS WEEK
These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week.
News companies reverse course on hard subscriptions. Many outlets have found that hard paywalls throttle traffic and ad revenue without capturing enough subscribers, so they are turning instead to flexible paywalls, membership programs and advertising. (Axios)
How we introduced group subscriptions to The Atlantic. The Atlantic researched, tested and built a successful group subscription platform, which launched in summer 2023 and has over 60 participant institutions. (Medium, Building the Atlantic)
The spectacular collapse of the Messenger is a lesson on how not to do journalism. Margaret Sullivan writes that any “quick fix” idea in journalism is probably doomed. (The Guardian)
NEW FROM API
Six news organizations join the American Press Institute’s cohort to design live events
Six news organizations will participate in the American Press Institute’s live events sprint program, a five-month cohort aimed at helping news organizations design and market live events within their communities. This initiative serves alumni of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program, which advances innovations in local journalism through intensive change-management training for news leaders. API manages a network of more than 200 Table Stakes alumni organizations, helping journalists and news leaders stay current on best practices from across the industry.
The API team will lead the participating news organizations through an interactive, hands-on sprint to teach them how to design successful live events that bolster community engagement, build community trust, drive revenues and boost organizational resilience.
The goal of the sprint is to meet the needs of the Table Stakes alumni community. The API team created this custom-tailored program based on the feedback of the Table Stakes alumni network and API’s organizational expertise and focus on community engagement, revenue, inclusion and civic discourse.
Trust Tip: Replicate The NYT’s new staff bios with this guide (Trusting News)
The New York Times is getting industry attention after announcing the rollout of their new staff bio pages, which they call “enhanced bios.” The accolades they are receiving are rightfully deserved: These bios do a great job of highlighting both the ethics and expertise of their journalists, as well as showing the humanity and mission behind their work.
Here is a quick breakdown of how you can replicate these staff bios — no matter staff size or CMS limitations! The four things to be sure to include are: What I Cover; My Background; Journalistic Ethics; and Contact Me.
+ Related: The Center for Media Engagement is looking for U.S.-based reporters to write a news story about the impacts of climate change on their local area (350-450 words) as part of a research study. Interested journalists can contact Research Associate Emily Graham for more details. Please include the approximate number of articles you have published in the past year in non-student outlets, whether you would consider yourself a general assignment reporter/journalist and links to 3 or 4 articles you have written. (The Center for Media Engagement)
+ Muck Rack is currently conducting a survey called The State of Journalism where they poll thousands of working journalists to learn more about them, the industry, and the future of journalism. It should take 10 minutes, and the deadline to complete it is TODAY, Friday, Feb. 9.
SPECIAL EDITION: Prioritize Your Workload
Each Monday, Need to Know shares a special edition series focusing on top issues impacting today’s newsrooms. Our new series focuses on stop doing — a way to assess your workload, coverage and workflows to free up resources to meet your team’s goals, whether it’s taking on new projects or having more breathing room and preventing burnout. Each week Emily Ristow, API’s Director of Local News Transformation, will walk you through the steps of the framework.
Turn your to-do list into a stop-doing list
The media industry has already seen a tumultuous start to a consequential election year. And as news teams begin thinking about their election coverage plans, it may feel like adding more tasks to an already full plate, with a fraction of the staff and resources they once had. But that doesn’t have to mean figuring out how to do more with less — maybe it’s doing less with less.
People often have a good idea of what isn’t contributing value, but they might need that push or permission to give those things up. The goal should be to return some time to your news team that can be reinvested in preparing for the marathon that 2024 is already shaping up to be.
+ Read more the “stop doing” list that Emily’s former team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put together.
+ Start learning what your audience wants from your election coverage.
+ Build in time and resources to prevent burnout among your team.
FOR THE WEEKEND
+ What Medium’s CEO has learned about technology and journalism (Semafor)
+ You’ll miss sports journalism when it’s gone (The Atlantic)
+ Public funding of journalism is the only way (How Things Work)
+ How Quora died: The site used to be a thriving community that worked to answer our most specific questions. But users are fleeing. (Slate)