Now in the News: American Press Institute To Help Six News Organizations Develop New Products To Better Serve Their Communities

February 17, 2023

American Press Institute To Help Six News Organizations Develop New Products To Better Serve Their Communities

Six news organizations and four expert coaches will participate in the American Press Institute’s product development sprint for alumni of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program, which strengthens local journalism through intensive change-management training for news leaders.

API developed the program in partnership with the News Product Alliance, which is facilitating work and providing essential connections to other news product thinkers who will introduce the cohort to product fundamentals during the five-month sprint. During the program, teams will devise and develop product prototypes as they address problems their communities face.

We are thrilled to be partnering with the News Product Alliance on this product sprint. The core Table Stakes programs have always included a focus on audiences,” said Emily Ristow, API’s director of local news transformation. “This program takes that to the next level, with teams diving deeper into that concept by learning more about the problems their audiences and communities face, and how their news organizations can develop products to better serve them.” “We are honored and excited to partner with API for the product sprint. We believe that the program will provide a rewarding educational experience for all participants,” said Cardoso of NPA. “Combining classes taught by news product experts with personalized mentorship from experienced coaches will greatly enrich learning. At the end of the program, we hope to have contributed to the creation or improvement of products in newsrooms.”

First Nonprofit News Publishers To Use Medill’s Subscriber Engagement Tool

Five members of the INN Network are the first nonprofit news organizations to participate in the Subscriber Engagement Index, a project of Northwestern University’s Medill Spiegel Research Center and Mather Economics that uses data science to study how news audiences build long-term relationships with news organizations. Understanding how news consumers build and maintain habits enables news publishers to make better business and technology decisions. The Subscriber Engagement Index goes beyond showing news organizations what works to offer unique benchmarks about how relationships are forming with their reporting compared to their peers. The first nonprofit news organizations to participate will be Block Club Chicago, the Salt Lake Tribune, Civil Eats, 100 Days in Appalachia and the Red Hook Daily Catch. After the initial cohort, INN will work with Northwestern to open the initiative to more members and release new findings on how news audiences’ relationships with nonprofit news organizations may differ from their for-profit peers. “Building direct audience has never been more important for news organizations, so we’re enthused to be working with Northwestern University and Mather Economics to bring more of the cutting-edge tools available to for-profit news organizations to INN members,” said Sam Cholke, manager of distribution and audience growth at INN. “We look forward to having the mission and approach of our newsrooms included in research about what meaningful relationships look like for news consumers now.” The subscriber engagement tool is provided for free to selected participants thanks to support from the Google Innovation Challenge, the Myrta J. Pulliam Charitable Trust, individual donors to the Medill Local News Initiative and the Spiegel Center’s endowment funds.

States Consider Bills To Subsidize Local Newspaper Subscriptions

States apparently are getting tired of waiting for national legislation that would support local journalism. The Massachusetts legislature, to name one, is mulling a bill that would provide a tax credit to reimburse the cost of local newspaper subscriptions. Sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Turco, a Democrat from the 19thDistrict, the bill would provide consumers with a $250 tax credit for subscriptions to one or more local community newspapers.

To benefit from this, a local print or digital publication would have to primarily serve the local community and consist of content derived from primary sources and relating to news and current events. It would also have to employ at least one local news journalist who resides in the community. Local newspapers are “really a critical source of news for the people of the communities in getting a message out there, both pro and con,” Turco said, according to 10Boston.

Meanwhile, Oregon is considering House bill 2605, a proposed law that would also provide tax credits for subscriptions to local publications. Like the Massachusetts bill, the Oregon bill would benefit publications that provide “news and current events coverage that is original content derived from primary sources,” and serve a local community. In addition, the publisher must employ at least one journalist who resides in the area.

The Oregon bill specifies that a taxpayer “may not claim the credit allowed under this section if the taxpayer has federal adjusted gross income in excess of $150,000 on a joint return or $75,000 on any other type of return.” This legislation would also mandate state grants to Agora Journalism Center and the Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism.

These bills have been introduced as local newsrooms close around the country.

Meanwhile,, an apparently stalled federal bill, the Journalism Sustainability Act, would provide a $250 subscription credit covering 80% of costs in the first year and a $500 credit in each of the following four years. Also, the House version would subsidize a local journalist’s compensation, with a redit of $25,000 in the first year, covering 50% of a $50,000 salary, and a 30% credit in each of the next four years. And, advertisers would qualify for a $5,000 local newspaper and local media advertising credit, covering an estimated 80% of ad costs in the first year.

Missouri School Of Journalism Partners With MU Institute For Data Science And Informatics To Revolutionize Research On News Deserts

An ongoing research project conducted in partnership between the Missouri School of Journalism and the MU Institute for Data Science and Informatics has received a $25,000 grant to support a more accurate method of analyzing news deserts, which arise when communities lose access to local news.

The grant comes courtesy of the Inasmuch Foundation, which supports a range of community-centered projects in the realms of education, health, journalism and more. The foundation’s support will give the project, led by Damon Kiesow of the School of Journalism and Chi-Ren Shyu — director of the institute — a solid foundation as it seeks to improve how large-scale analyses of the local news ecosystem are conducted. “This project is yet another example of collaborative, impact-driven work from our faculty that makes a real difference in peoples’ lives,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “Local news is a vital resource for staying informed and engaged within any community, and the School of Journalism is deeply invested in building and expanding that resource for everyone.”

The topic of news deserts is of momentous importance to the industry, and research like Penny Abernathy’s annual report on the state of local news adds to the field’s understanding of how news organizations serve rural communities. At Mizzou, Kiesow and Shyu are developing a different approach to this research that addresses gaps in the current methodology. They plan to use data gleaned from digital news stories nationwide to create an automated algorithm that will identify coverage areas and news deserts with greater accuracy and efficiency.

“There are limits when we are basing our understanding of news deserts on where a newsroom is physically located,” said Kiesow, Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Producing at the School of Journalism. “Coverage can cross counties, zip codes and even state boundaries. When you’re trying to ask specific questions about the depth and breadth of a newspaper’s coverage, it’s not the most accurate.”