For years, news sites were speed dating to capture the elusive social media audience, spreading themselves thin to reach people in as many social spaces as possible.
Now, more are going steady. For Mic, that means sticking with a few tried-and-true social partners. For the Christian Science Monitor, which went live with a subscription site on Monday, that means finding people who support its mission so much it would pay for it.
For both sites, it’s about identifying loyal viewers, listeners and readers — and catering to them.
Mic’s publisher, Cory Haik, calls it “deliberate distribution.” Faced with a steep fall in video traffic from Facebook, Haik has partnered with Apple News and Twitter Moments to highlight some of its best journalism. Haik cut production by two-thirds and its Facebook videos by half, pushing more distinctive material. Mic’s best work, such as this ASNE-winning take on opioid addiction, may not have as many viewers, but viewers spend more time on the quality segment. Another success: this social video on a gun owner giving up his weapon after Parkland.
For Facebook Watch, Mic last week debuted "For The Record With Jack Smith IV," a weekly show with one of its most recognizable names, a reporter who was arrested in the 2016 Standing Rock protests and has covered extremist groups in the United States. "For The Record" is billed as following “the troubled roots of everyday places, objects and activities in American history.”
The Monitor, when it moved from Monday-Friday to weekly print publication, once chased trending topics and delivered significant monthly digital readership through social media — but those readers didn’t develop a habit for a site, and declining digital ad prices made the extra effort less tenable.
So the Monitor doubled down on its core audience, listened to it, and has come up with the Christian Science Monitor Daily, a newsletter with five hand-picked articles, with editor commentary on why each matters. There are videos, graphics, a daily audio digest, a quick-read version — and no ads. It has a free, no credit-card five-day subscription — but the Monitor does get your email. Check it out.
On Monday, the daily public radio show "The Takeaway" named a new host for Fridays — Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. The move allows the WNYC-PRI co-produced show, which on Monday premiered Tanzina Vega as host, to go deeper on a single topic more often.
Some of the strongest shows in recent years richly covered the history of the electoral college, the rise of Russian influence in 2016, the state of the EPA under Scott Pruitt and redistricting efforts in Pennsylvania, said "The Takeaway’s" executive editor, Arwa Gunja.
“It’s extremely challenging for our daily host to find the time to think deeply about these issues while also taking on all the other duties of hosting and covering such a large array of topics all week long,” she said by email. That’s why they came up with a Friday show with a different host.
“When looking for hosts, Amy’s vision for this show very much aligned with our own,” Gunja said. “She brings to this show a deep understanding of Washington policy and how those policy decisions impact real Americans; she is committed to journalism that provides context and history, with a focus on answering the question, ‘How did we get here?’”
THE IMPLODING DENVER POST: Nearly all of the remaining staff signed an open letter urging the Alden Global Capital hedge fund to end censorship and immediately sell Colorado’s biggest newspaper. Two departing senior editors described the tumult of recent days, with one saying “I had more freedom as a journalist in Russia than I did under Alden Capital.” Here’s our full story. Departing editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett has more for Rolling Stone on the vultures who are “destroying public trust in what we do.” Protests are scheduled Tuesday outside Alden's New York headquarters and in Denver.
UNION MOVEMENT: Journalists at Tronc newspapers in Hartford, Orlando and at the South Florida Sun Sentinel may be emboldened after the company’s flagship Chicago Tribune agreed to allow a union, reports NPR’s David Folkenflik. The chain’s Baltimore Sun already is unionized, as is the Los Angeles Times, which Tronc recently sold.
GONE: New York's attorney general quit about three hours after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them. Eric T. Schneiderman said the allegations "will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time." All the women in the article said the violence was not consensual.
NOT READY FOR NOVEMBER: Former DNC head and CNN analyst Donna Brazile says statewide political campaigns are not ready for the type of hacking, from Russia and elsewhere, that bedeviled America’s 2016 vote. Brazile, in a paper for Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, finds less than half of Republican and Democratic campaign operatives have taken steps to make their data secure. Brazile wrote the 2017 best-seller “Hacks,” on the Russian infiltration of Hillary Clinton’s campaign communications.
SOMETHING NEW FOR SUBSCRIBERS: A “conference call” sounds so blase and corporate, but what the NYT is doing with its podcast “Caliphate” might be a model that many could adapt, says Shan Wang of Nieman Labs. In this case, the call to subscribers to this ISIS-related podcast had the benefit of NYT’s Rukmini Callimachi, the Romanian-born, California-raised (and frequently Morning Mediawire praised) expert on ISIS who Wang wrote “sounded unpracticed, lively, and totally normal on the call.”
DEATH KNELL FOR MEDIA FREEDOM IN CAMBODIA?: A rights group has criticized the sale of an independent Cambodian newspaper to a company that does public relations for the regime. Several editors of the Phnom Penh Post quit or were fired for refusing to remove a reference to the ties between the new owner and strongman Hun Sen. Seven months ago, the government forced another independent newspaper, the Cambodia Daily, to close.
ANTI-SEMITES GALORE ON TWITTER: The Anti-Defamation League reported Monday that 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets in English were posted or reposted on Twitter in the past year. That follows a report finding the highest number of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States in at least 20 years. ADL national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said the Twitter data showed many used the social network as a “megaphone to harass and intimidate Jews,” AP reported.
DOUBLE THE FUTURE: Axios is moving the veteran reporter Steve LeVine’s weekly look at jobs, discoveries, trends and policies for the future to twice-weekly.
WHOOPS: Guns have gone off by mistake at least 30 times in schools since 2014, a data analysis found. Maybe convicted felon and new NRA president Oliver North — yeah, the guy behind an embarrassing and illegal arms-for-hostages deal with Iran — may encourage the NRA not to arm teachers. Or maybe not.
What we're reading
CAN GOOGLE KILL THE BAIL BOND SYSTEM?: Google is banning ads for bail bond services starting in July, saying it does not want to be a part of a system that perpetuates racism. "For-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years," wrote Google's global policy director, David Graff. "We made this decision based on our commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products." Says Gina Clayton, executive director of the Essie Justice Group, Google's move is "a call to action for all those in the private sector who profit off of mass incarceration. It is time to say ‘no more.’" (Hat tip: Raju Narisetti)
WHOSE SPIES WERE THEY?: How a private Israeli intelligence unit — the same one that harassed accusers of Harvey Weinstein — was employed to spy on and entrap U.S. officials who had negotiated the Iran nuclear arms agreement. The latest from the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow.
BEYOND MOONWALKING: Michael Jackson also wanted his freedom, a white freedom, writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic. There’s a difference, however, with Kanye West’s embrace of Donald Trump. “The rule of Donald Trump is predicated on the infliction of maximum misery of West’s most ardent parishioners, the portions of America, the muck, that made the god Kanye possible,” Coates writes.
WE’LL SEPARATE YOU FROM YOUR CHILDREN: That’s the message from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday to people who cross U.S. borders without documentation. Sessions said 700 kids already have been taken away from their parents by U.S. officials since July.
THE EYE ON THE BALL: The Trump administration’s denial of temporary protective status for 57.000 Hondurans puts the U.S. on course so that 400,000 people living in America will be unauthorized immigrants by January 2020, writes Dara Lind of Vox. If DACA goes down, that could be 1 million other Americans who are suddenly unauthorized to live here. (Hat tip: Ali Noorani)
WHO IS DISRUPTING?: AdWeek chose 39 women in media, advertising and tech who are advancing diversity and inclusion. Here’s the list.
DON’T BLAME THE GIRAFFE: A film director who ignored warnings not to film a giraffe was killed by the animal on a South African farm reserve, Variety reports. The director was shooting for a German movie, “Premium Nanny 2.”
ADVERTISING FOR THE TRUMP VOTER: Companies caught flat-footed in 2016 try to reach out, writes the NYT’s Sapna Maheshwari.
TWO NEW LIBRARIES: A new branch of the Chicago Public Library will be inside the new Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s South Side, and a branch of the New York Public Library will be inside the Manhattan Detention Center. (Hat tip: Gary Price)
What we’re watching
GRADUATION BOUNCER: Social media videos caught an overly aggressive University of Florida marshal pushing and wrangling graduates off the stage as they got their diplomas. But he seemed to only single out minority students who were celebrating their achievement. That prompted an apology on Twitter from university president Kent Fuchs.
New on Poynter.org
- Perhaps more publishers should consider "digital-only" editions. By Ren LaForme.
- Why do people opine of things they don't know. A new study sheds light. By Daniel Funke.
* * *
Want to get this briefing in your inbox every weekday morning? Sign up here.
Got a tip, a link, a suggestion? We’re trying to make this roundup better every day. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.