Congratulations, sports media: You just got a big business-model subsidy from the Supreme Court

In his 1957 classic An Economic Theory of Democracy, Anthony Downs wrote that there were only four types of information: production information, consumption information, entertainment information, and political information. Production information helps you make smarter business decisions; if you’re a stockbroker, The Wall Street Journal is production information for you. Consumption information makes you a better consumer; if you’re going to a movie this weekend, Rotten Tomatoes is consumption information for you. Entertainment information is self-explanatory — anything you consume primarily to be entertained, whether high culture (a great novel) or low (a Kardashian). And political information is anything that makes you a more informed voter. (That’s the toughest one to sell, as Jay Hamilton wrote about smartly.) A key thing to remember about journalism is that the same piece of information can serve different information needs for different people. If you’re trying to decide who to vote Continue reading "Congratulations, sports media: You just got a big business-model subsidy from the Supreme Court"

Here’s how blockchain, bots, AI, and Apple News might impact the near-term future of journalism

If you’re interested in Canadian media — and who among us is not — you probably already listen to Canadaland, the flagship show of Jesse Brown’s growing podcast empire, which dives into the nation’s journalism issues. I was happy to appear on the show to talk digital news strategy in 2016, and Jesse just had me back for today’s episode, where — contrary to the doom and gloom that accompanies most discussion of the technology’s impact on the media. Well, I’m not going to say we avoided doom or gloom entirely — but we did get to have a fruitful discussion of some of the more tech-forward ways the industry is changing. In particular: — Will blockchain meaningfully change the fundamental questions about how we journalism gets funded? (I’m skeptical.) — Will AI and bots replace reporters? (Maybe on the fringes, but they’re mainly for scale and speed. Continue reading "Here’s how blockchain, bots, AI, and Apple News might impact the near-term future of journalism"

Maybe to be at our best on mobile, publishers should think back to the web’s early, visually spare days

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the 1.0 release of NCSA Mosiac, the first important web browser, the one that led to…well, everything else that’s happened online in the past quarter-century. (Weird to see “World Wide Web” be listed as just one of the various systems Mosaic could work with — and only in third place!) Mosaic looks comically basic today, of course, with its default grey background, utter lack of layout (even <table> was a year-plus away), and general aesthetic case of the blahs. But from such starts spring miracles. Seemingly unrelated: The website Girlboss — “We exist to redefine success for millennial women by providing the tools and connections they need to own their futures” — redesigned recently. I know this because Girlboss editor-in-chief and COO (and past Nieman Lab Predictions contributor) Neha Gandhi emailed me, not because I am Girlboss’ Continue reading "Maybe to be at our best on mobile, publishers should think back to the web’s early, visually spare days"

That Politico article on “news deserts” doesn’t really show what it claims to show

Sunday afternoon, Politico came out with a “special report” on the relationship between the strength of local newspapers and support for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. “Trump thrives in areas that lack traditional news outlets,” the headline said:
An extensive review of subscription data and election results shows that Trump outperformed the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in counties with the lowest numbers of news subscribers, but didn’t do nearly as well in areas with heavier circulation. Politico’s findings — which put Trump’s escalating attacks on the media in a new context — were drawn from a comparison of election results and subscription information from the Alliance for Audited Media, an industry group that verifies print and digital circulation for advertisers. The findings cover more than 1,000 mainstream news publications in more than 2,900 counties out of 3,100 nationwide from every state except Alaska, which does not hold elections
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Come work for Nieman Lab

We have an opening for a staff writer here at Nieman Lab. If you’re interested, apply over here! The job’s pretty easy to describe: You see all the stories on this website? The ones about journalism innovation — changes in how news gets reported, produced, distributed, discovered, consumed, and paid for? This job is about coming up with, reporting out, and writing those stories. There are some other duties, of course, like helping run our social media presence, but it’s a reporting job at its core. If you’ve ever thought I’d be good at writing Nieman Lab stories, I’d encourage you to apply. This person will join our little five-person Harvard newsroom. She or he will also be joining the larger Nieman Foundation, which does a lot of exciting things for journalism and for journalists. (That’s our home, Walter Lippmann House, above; it’s nice.) For more details, Continue reading "Come work for Nieman Lab"

The ❤️ of the matter: Here are too many words about Farhad Manjoo’s Twitter habits (and some cool charts)

Over the weekend, I was chatting on Twitter about last week’s media flare-up, l’affaire Manjoo. That’s the debate prompted by New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo writing this piece, headlined: “For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.” It was only the latest in the overstuffed genre of people recording their retreats from technology and news. They usually end with a gleeful report of the results, tossing aside their Klonopins like a congregant’s crutches at a scam preacher’s Sunday show. (The Sunday Times even featured another candidate for this particular canon, Sam Dolnick’s story of a former top Nike executive who, wealthy enough to rely on a distant financial advisor to handle his riches, has moved to Ohio and decided to ignore all news of the outside world. This guy, basically, but forever.) From Manjoo’s piece:
This [being
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Getting The Boston Globe delivered will soon cost almost $1,350 a year

For the past decade, one of the very few (relative?) bright spots in newspaper earnings reports has been circulation revenue, which has either held steady or dropped only slightly for many. (Compared to the complete collapse of print advertising revenue, “only down a little” is an offer you’d take.) The reason for that stability isn’t that people stopped canceling their print subscriptions — it’s that newspapers decided to charge subscribers more (a lot more). The bet: If you’re still reading a print newspaper in the 2010s, you’ve probably been doing it your entire adult life, and it’s a habit you don’t want to break. So rather than chase marginal readers, as papers did in the 1990s and early 2000s — “Let’s start a new weekly feature just for these young Gen X types!” — publishers pivoted to soaking their core readers for all their worth. Fewer subscribers but Continue reading "Getting The Boston Globe delivered will soon cost almost $1,350 a year"