“Journalism practice may feel like a product on a conveyor belt”: Researchers on the future of automated news production and consumption

Even if automation is creeping into all corners of our lives, at least we humans can still get together in real life to talk about it. At the Algorithms, Automation, and News conference in Munich this week, some of journalism’s biggest brainiacs shared their research on everything from bot behavior to showing your work when it’s automated to reporting through the Internet of Things. Many of academics’ relevant papers will be published in a forthcoming issue of Digital Journalism. (Full list of presenters, panelists, and papers here.) Algorithmic accountability — reverse-engineering and reporting on the algorithms across our lives, from Facebook to Airbnb to targeted job listings — is a hot topic in journalism, but this conference focused more on the silver linings: how automation and algorithms could bolster newsrooms full of human journalists. Here are some of the top tweets from the Munich mind-gathering: The Associated Press’ director of
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After crowdfunding success, Swiss magazine Republik charts a course to “reclaim journalism as a profession”

In its first seven hours of existence, the Swiss online news magazine Republik — a startup with the allure of in-depth journalism and membership transparency — gained 3,000 subscribers and 750,000 Swiss francs. But that whirlwind of support created a new pressure: delivering on its promise. Thirteen months (and thousands more members) later, Republik is living up to the hype, reporting substantive investigations and finding new ways to engage and collaborate with readers — like virtual “dinner parties” to discuss the impact of its work. “If you don’t have democracy, if you don’t have really good information that you can cite, there’s a problem,” Susanne Sugimoto, Republik’s CEO, told me. She calls 20 Minutes, the free Tamedia tabloid read by about half the country each week, “a business success story, but it’s not a success story in terms of journalism with a deep quality.” Members of the Continue reading "After crowdfunding success, Swiss magazine Republik charts a course to “reclaim journalism as a profession”"

Flush with spectrum-sale dollars, a Pennsylvania PBS station is doubling down on a different kind of local news

Hailed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for local TV stations, the FCC’s spectrum auction last year drove billions of dollars to hundreds of broadcasters across the country. The windfall of cash came from wireless carriers seeking infrastructure for more powerful networks, and now the proceeds are landing in the stations’ bank accounts. So what are the local TV stations doing with a little extra coin? While some are using it to pay off debt (important!), other stations are thinking outside-of-the-TV-box with new types of newscasts and new forms of journalism, new hires, and new infrastructure. Yoni Greenbaum is seizing the opportunity at PBS39/WLVT in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley (90 minutes’ drive from Philadelphia) to hire 10 reporters and two editors onto its existing staff of 42 (that includes marketing, membership, production, etc). Starting in September, that team will create a weekly newscast focused on local issues and solutions — not car Continue reading "Flush with spectrum-sale dollars, a Pennsylvania PBS station is doubling down on a different kind of local news"

Exiting the exit poll: The AP’s new plan for surveying voters after a not-so-hot 2016

One hundred and seventy-four days remain until the United States’ midterm elections (421 until the next presidential election, but who’s counting) — which means there’s still time to “evolve” how polling is conducted. The 2016 presidential election wasn’t polling’s shining moment, with many post-mortems pointing to opinion polls misleading election forecasters and underestimating now-President Trump’s support. It didn’t help that some polls were tied to news organizations that don’t really have the resources anymore to support this work — at least doing this work well. There’s no perfect poll aside from (maybe) the ballot itself, but the polling system — both conducted by the media and reported on in the media — has faced critics since long before November 8, 2016. These issues contributed to the Associated Press’ and Fox News’ departure from the Election Day polling data shared by the major networks last year. But now the wire Continue reading "Exiting the exit poll: The AP’s new plan for surveying voters after a not-so-hot 2016"

What is innovation in local TV news? Andrew Heyward’s new mission is to find out

News flash: A lot of people still watch — and trust — the local TV news. TV is still the No. 1 source of news for Americans, ahead of the entire Internet. And of those TV watchers, nearly 3 in 4 are regular local TV news watchers. But the trendlines are moving in the wrong direction. In 2016, TV had a 19 percentage point lead over online as a frequent source of news for Americans (57 percent to 38 percent). A year later, that lead had been cut to 7 percentage points (50 percent to 43 percent). Cord-cutters and cord-nevers have moved from edge cases to mainstream; young people ages 18 to 24 have cut their TV viewing by abotu eight hours a week just in the past six years. It’s time for an update. Resources for innovation have, generally speaking, flowed more to local newspapers and digital-native publishers Continue reading "What is innovation in local TV news? Andrew Heyward’s new mission is to find out"

Collaboration and insights: Here’s what you missed at two useful journalism conferences last week

Two powerhouse gatherings in the journalism world happened at the end of last week, digging into topics from collaborative journalism to reader revenue. The ONA Insights event in Toronto featured keynotes on Vox Media’s editorial voice and blockchain in journalism with dives into newsletters, analytics, growth in international audience, and more. Over in New Jersey, the Center for Cooperative Media’s collaborators met to brainstorm about working together in journalism at the Collaborative Journalism Summit. What were the top #learnings from these events? We’ve rounded them up for you here!

Collaborating in Media 101

The Solutions Journalism Network’s collaborative playbook launched over the weekend as well, and you can find it here. Heather Bryant’s collaborative journalism workbook should be published online shortly.

BuzzFeed News’ podcast cohost, Jojo the bot, wants to help listeners follow along without friction

techno beep “Did you hear that? That’s Jojo, our gender neutral robot.” Jojo, a chatbot, acts as a cohost of BuzzFeed News’ new weekly general-interest news podcast along with human Julia Furlan to help listeners follow along with the stories discussed on the show. The News, which will be released by BuzzFeed’s PodSquad team every Saturday, is designed to give those unacquainted with current events a sensible taste of the nutso news cycle, and also to amplify BuzzFeed reporters’ profiles (hmmm, sounds similar to a certain forthcoming Netflix show). This includes talking through stories with reporters across the BuzzFeed newsroom, quizzing each other on fake news, and using Jojo to help push along BuzzFeed reporting for extra context. “BuzzFeed as a brand is really smart, very upbeat Internet, but also super accessible. One of our goals has been to talk about the news for our
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