TOP NEWS THIS WEEK

This week, Sinclair executive David D. Smith purchased The Baltimore Sun — and held a tense meeting with staff where he admitted that he spent at least $100 million to purchase a paper he read only four times. He said he would encourage the paper to be more like his local Sinclair television station, which relies heavily on audience polls to determine their coverage areas. Smith purchased the paper from Alden Global Capital, who will continue to provide technical and operational support — for a fee. (The Baltimore Sun, The Baltimore Banner, Poynter) 

MOST POPULAR STORIES THIS WEEK

These are the stories that captured the most interest from Need to Know subscribers this week. 

Five things news media can do to respond to consistent news avoidance. Relentlessly depressing stories or inside-baseball coverage can turn people off of your content, while encouraging a sense of community can help readers feel more engaged. (Reuters Institute)  

These universities are crafting a plan to revitalize news in the South. Four colleges are planning a long-term effort to expand the influence of student journalists, with a focus on equity, sustainability, reliability and flexibility. (Forbes)  

DW’s strategic approach to journalism on TikTok. All of the videos are between 60 and 90 seconds, and feature relatable hosts rather than traditional news anchors. (The Fix) 

NEW FROM API

API Tech Talks x Table Stakes: Engaging audiences amid social platform flux

Table Stakes alumni are invited to join the American Press Institute’s newsroom success manager, Shay Totten, in a conversation on how to engage local news audiences and find ways to build trust, loyalty and community amid social media uncertainty. You’ll come away with some concrete ideas — as well as a printable ‘zine — to start connecting with your community of readers. The virtual event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Not sure if your news organization is on the list? Check here.

Grow your audience, repurpose content and increase brand awareness with city guides (Better News) 

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: A first impression is important, and these strategies for city guides from Knox News can help turn newcomers into lifelong subscribers. 

Enter, Knoxpedia. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a free digital guide to all things Knoxville. It’s targeted at “new” Knoxvillians, which could mean a variety of things. It’s also designed for people entering new chapters in their lives that spur them to become more civically engaged.

First-time parent? There’s a section on schools and children’s issues. First-time voter? Knoxpedia tells you what’s on the ballot and how to register. Even for those just looking to make friends, there’s a section all about fun things to do in East Tennessee and connecting with others.

+ Build a loyal reader base by reviving ‘zombie’ subscribers: Disengagement isn’t easy to recover from, but carefully reconsidering content for target audiences might help. (Better News) 

Burnout remains a problem. journalists are helping each other cope. (NBCU Academy)

“Journalists are naturally cynical people, and there is a healthy level of cynicism, but there’s also an unhealthy burnout level of cynicism,” said Samantha Ragland, the American Press Institute’s VP of journalism programs. “And that puts up a wall between how a journalist can learn and from whom.” 

Ragland, who has developed and uses a curriculum for burned-out journalists, said one of the things that makes her sessions successful is that she taps into her experience as a journalist to engage her stressed-out colleagues. And she is not the only one helping fellow journalists with their burnout. 

SPECIAL EDITION: Journalism With Care

Welcome to January’s Special Edition on care in the storytelling process. This month, community-engaged journalism consultant jesikah maria ross explores how we enact care in our reporting processes in and with communities. 

A framework for building trust and relevance

When people feel cared about, they are more likely to engage with reporters and be honest — even vulnerable — about their experiences. That’s crucial to help reporters “get the story right.” And 85% of adults, according to a 2016 Media Insight Project study, say that accuracy “is the most important factor in gaining trust, regardless of the topic.”

Sources (and other stakeholders) who experience care from news organizations are also more willing to deepen their involvement with us over time. That might look like participating in our listening sessions or surveys, accessing and sharing our programs, becoming members or subscribers, serving on boards or contributing their expertise and resources in other ways.

+ How journalists care by Sue Robinson asks questions like:

  • How do we enact this care? 
  • What is the theory of change or a framework for implementation? 
  • What does an “ethic of care” look like in practice, and what will result from using/deploying it? 

FOR THE WEEKEND

+ Fact-checking journalism is evolving, not stagnating (Nieman Lab) 

+ ‘Control the narrative’: How an Alabama utility wields influence by financing news (The Guardian) 

+ A leak-hosting site looks to thaw the chill of censorship (Columbia Journalism Review) 

+ A new kind of climate denial has taken over on YouTube (The Verge)