How can local TV news fix its young person problem? Maybe it needs to look more like Vox


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Would more young people watch local TV news if it looked more like a Vox video and less like, uh, local TV news? It’s worth a try, according to a report released by Shorenstein and Northeastern this week. The authors suggest that local TV stations “remix” their hard news offerings by borrowing tactics from digital-native publications — incorporating animation and historical video, for instance. A limited test of these remixed videos suggested that the technique was effective — although it doesn’t fix the problem that TV ownership is declining. People over 50 are much more likely to watch local TV news than younger people. Pew reported last year that 28 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds say they “often” get news from local TV; just 18 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said the same thing. Mike Beaudet, John Wihbey, and their team at Northeastern watched hundreds of hours of
Continue reading "How can local TV news fix its young person problem? Maybe it needs to look more like Vox"

If Facebook wants to stop the spread of anti-vaxxers, it could start by not taking their ad dollars


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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How much should we freak out about anti-vaxxers? WHO named anti-vaxxers one of the top 10 global health threats for 2019. But is the threat from internet crazies overblown? Or are there certain things about the anti-vaccination movement that make it particularly dangerous? This debate is the health version of an argument we see often these days: That covering far-right figures and extremists too much — even in highly critical articles — gives them the oxygen they need to become more powerful and mainstream. “The mere fact that anti-vaxxer beliefs are treacherous and wrong doesn’t make them worthy of attention on the national scale,” Daniel Engber writes in a Slate article in which he warns against catastrophizing. “Vaccine refuseniks are still well outside the mainstream.” (Or, sometimes, fairly close to the mainstream!). Engber’s argument:
The anti-vaxxer movement isn’t really on the rise all across America, and measles hasn’t really Continue reading "If Facebook wants to stop the spread of anti-vaxxers, it could start by not taking their ad dollars"

BuzzFeed News and the Toronto Star team up to report on misinformation around the Canadian election


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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2019 is a general election year in Canada (as it is in many countries around the world), and the Toronto Star wanted to be on top of the misinformation and disinformation efforts that will almost inevitably arise as voting day draws closer. Star editors didn’t have to start from scratch in getting a handle on the Canadian media environment. They had a good resource not too far away: Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko, the misinformation/​disinformation/​fake news/​hoax reporting duo of BuzzFeed News, who are both based in Toronto. The Star and BuzzFeed have officially partnered to cover “the ways political parties, third-party pressure groups, foreign powers, and individuals are influencing Canada’s political debate in the run-up to this fall’s federal election.” The first story ran last week, in both the print and digital editions of the Star and on BuzzFeed News. Same story, three different headlines: “Never mind Continue reading "BuzzFeed News and the Toronto Star team up to report on misinformation around the Canadian election"

Patch is launching paid, “ad-lite” memberships


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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A profile of hyperlocal news site Patch pops up once a year or so, and here’s the latest one, from Recode’s Peter Kafka. A few tidbits: — Patch is profitable (and has been for a few years — the company also said it was profitable in early 2016 and in mid-2017). — It now consists of 1,200 sites (up from around 900 three years ago) that pull in more than $20 million in ad revenue. While it started out focusing primarily on “more affluent” communities, Kafka notes that the range of places with Patch sites has grown:
Under [investment firm Hale Global], Patch launched a Joliet [Illinois] site and found success: [editor-in-chief Dennis Robaugh] says the site, staffed by a writer who grew up there, generates 2.5 million page views a month for its stories and has roughly a third of the town signed up for Continue reading "Patch is launching paid, “ad-lite” memberships"

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing — no, seriously, it is, according to this new research


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Just two misleading claims by politicians were tweeted 10 times more often than 3,200 Russian troll tweets. U.K. researchers found that misinformation from politicians was much more impactful than thousands of troll and bot tweets (working paper here). They looked at claims and tweets during Brexit and found in part:
In particular, just two of the many misleading claims made by politicians during the referendum were found to be cited in 4.6 times more tweets than the 7,103 tweets related to Russia Today and Sputnik and in 10.2 times more tweets than the 3,200 Brexit-related tweets by the Russian troll accounts.
This fits well with a Medium piece by Dartmouth’s Brendan Nyhan, “Why fears of fake news are overhyped.” (Nyhan has written about this before.) He writes:
The most worrisome misinformation in U.S. politics remains the old-fashioned kind: false and misleading statements Continue reading "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing — no, seriously, it is, according to this new research"

Tony Haile’s Scroll acquires the news-reading app Nuzzel (it’ll remain free)


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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When you’re building a healthy web environment for journalism, there are a few key groups to keep in mind, says Scroll CEO (and Chartbeat founder) Tony Haile. Of course, you need to think about the publishers — the content creators — and the readers. Scroll, the $5/month, ad-free premium news site–reading experience that will roll out this year, is geared toward both of those groups. But there’s also a third group to remember: the curators, the people who share and drive others to all that great premium content. “We want to find some way for those curators out there to sustain themselves,” said Haile, and that’s why on Thursday Scroll announced that it is acquiring news aggregator Nuzzel. Nuzzel, for those who aren’t familiar, is a handy app that creates a news feed consisting of what people you follow on Twitter and other social media sites are reading, based Continue reading "Tony Haile’s Scroll acquires the news-reading app Nuzzel (it’ll remain free)"

Vox.com tries a membership program, with a twist: It’s focused on video and entirely on YouTube


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Would you pay an extra $5 a month to attend a quarterly meeting over Google Hangouts? Not “$5 a month to skip a meeting.” “$5 to have the privilege of attending a meeting.” Well, it turns out, plenty of Vox.com video lovers would. When you sign up for a Vox Video Lab membership, you can choose between two different price levels. For $4.99 per month, you get the “DVD extras” of Vox videos: behind-the-scenes content, videos explaining Vox’s process, recommendations for non-Vox videos, and a monthly live Q&A with a producer. For $9.99 a month, you get all that plus…access to a quarterly Google Hangout where they can give Vox more advice about its membership program.

Researchers crunched 13 TB of local newspaper subscriber data. Here’s what they found about who sticks around.


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Hey, local newspapers: Want to try to predict which of your subscribers are going to stick with you — and keep paying — no matter what? New research out of the Medill Local News Initiative at Northwestern suggests that creating a habit is the most important thing to focus on: The frequency of reading local news is “the single biggest predictor of retaining subscribers — more than the number of stories read or the time spent reading them.” In some cases, in fact, “high rates of story reading and time spent per story” were actually associated with people dropping their subscriptions. Yes, the researchers say, this is indeed a “puzzling surprise” (more on it below). Folks from Medill’s Spiegel Research Center, led by research director Edward Malthouse, analyzed 13 terabytes of anonymous reader and subscriber data from the Chicago Tribune, Indianapolis Star, and San Francisco Chronicle. In doing so, they Continue reading "Researchers crunched 13 TB of local newspaper subscriber data. Here’s what they found about who sticks around."

Individually, people aren’t great at judging news sources. En masse, they’re almost the same as professional fact-checkers


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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“We find remarkably high agreement between fact-checkers and laypeople.” Building on a draft paper from last year, psychologists Gordon Pennycook and David Rand have a new study showing that people across the political spectrum rate mainstream news sources as more trustworthy than hyperpartisan and fake news sites — and that “politically balanced layperson ratings were strongly correlated with ratings provided by professional fact-checkers.” Herein lies a possible solution for social media companies trying to decide which news content to up-rank: Maybe they could try trusting the crowd. “Incorporating the trust ratings of laypeople into social media ranking algorithms may prove an effective intervention against misinformation, fake news, and news content with heavy political bias,” the authors write. Pennycook and Rand did find “clear partisan differences in trust of mainstream news.” In their studies of about 2,000 people, Democrats were much more likely to trust mainstream media
Continue reading "Individually, people aren’t great at judging news sources. En masse, they’re almost the same as professional fact-checkers"

Why won’t The New Yorker keep you logged in? Mystery: Solved (kind of)


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Do you like remembering a username and password and typing them over and over on a tiny mobile screen? If so, I recommend a digital subscription to The New Yorker, which in addition to being probably the world’s greatest magazine is also bafflingly incapable of keeping a paying subscriber logged in. If you don’t believe me, ask Twitter. Representative sample:

A typical big news story in 2018 lasted about 7 days (until we moved on to the next crisis)


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Remember the great blood moon of 2018? Not the one a few days ago, the one last July. Yeah, me neither. Google Trends, the data visualization firm Schema, and Axios partnered on a collaboration to show how long various news events stayed in the American consciousness in 2018, as evidenced by Google searches. A finding that will not be surprising to anyone who had completely forgotten about that Hawaii false missile alert until they read this sentence is that “the news cycles for some of the biggest moments of 2018 only lasted for a median of seven days — from the very beginning of higher-than-normal interest until the Google searches fizzled out.” And honestly, even seven days seems surprisingly long — you only get there by including big sustained stories like the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and the midterm elections. (Though that blood moon somehow stuck around somewhere in
Continue reading "A typical big news story in 2018 lasted about 7 days (until we moved on to the next crisis)"

Do people fall for fake news because they’re partisan or because they’re lazy? Researchers are divided


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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“People who shared fake news were more likely to be older and more conservative.” Echoing other recent studies, researchers found that people who shared fake news on Twitter between August and December 2016 were likely to be older and more conservative, and were concentrated into a “seedy little neighborhood” on Twitter, according to Northeastern’s David Lazer — “Only 1 percent of individuals accounted for 80 percent of fake news source exposures, and 0.1 percent accounted for nearly 80 percent of fake news sources shared.” The authors suggest a few ideas for reducing the spread of fake news — for example, limiting the number of political URLs that any one user can share in a day:
Platforms could algorithmically demote content from frequent posters or prioritize users who have not posted that day. For illustrative purposes, a simulation of capping political URLs at 20 per day resulted in a Continue reading "Do people fall for fake news because they’re partisan or because they’re lazy? Researchers are divided"

In the latest sign things really are dire, BuzzFeed is laying off 15 percent of its staff


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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BuzzFeed is cutting about 15 percent of its workforce worldwide, around 220 jobs, The Wall Street Journal first reported and CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo to staff Wednesday evening. BuzzFeed “basically hit” $300 million in revenue for 2018, the Journal reported, but Peretti told staff that “revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run. The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again.” (Unspoken there is that raising another round (a) would be difficult in an environment where investors have lost most hope of a large-multiple exit and (b) would certainly require a significant drop in valuation from the $1.7 billion it fetched in 2016.) BuzzFeed also laid off 100 employees in late 2017. Late last year, the company Continue reading "In the latest sign things really are dire, BuzzFeed is laying off 15 percent of its staff"

How many paying subscribers do you need to keep a money-losing magazine afloat? Arkansas Life finds out


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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How many fans does it take to keep a regional print magazine afloat? In December, subscribers to Arkansas Life received a printed letter along with their January issue. “Arkansas Life will soon cease publication unless a substantial number of readers become paid subscribers,” the letter from Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Life, read. The magazine had been free for most readers since 2008, but now, Hussman wrote, its advertising-based business model was unsustainable. “In an effort to continue publication, we’re now asking appreciative readers to become paid subscribers at a rate of $20 a year,” the letter went on. “If most and enough of our readers respond to this appeal, the magazine will continue. If not, it will soon be gone like so many other printed publications in recent years.” The bottom of the paper contained a form that readers were supposed Continue reading "How many paying subscribers do you need to keep a money-losing magazine afloat? Arkansas Life finds out"

WhatsApp limits message forwarding in order to fight “misinformation and rumors”


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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WhatsApp’s forwarding feature allows users to forward messages from one group or chat to another group or chat. It’s a convenient way to spread text, links, and images quickly — and also, not surprisingly, a way that false information can spread fast. Now the company is placing a limit on forwarded messages worldwide, expanding a six-month experiment that it began last year. That experiment had limited the number of chats that worldwide users could forward to to 20, and placed a lower limit on Indian users of five forwards. (In India, WhatsApp noted at the time, “people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world.” Research conducted in the country late last year found that Indians get notifications as often as every 2 to 4 minutes — something that, so far, they are not complaining about. As of one year ago, the last time Continue reading "WhatsApp limits message forwarding in order to fight “misinformation and rumors”"

73 percent of Republicans say the news media misunderstands them


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Nearly three-quarters of Republicans say that the media does not understand “people like them,” according to Pew research released Friday. Those surveyed felt this way regardless of age, education level, and sex, and regardless of how much news they read. For Democrats, meanwhile, their feelings on whether the news media understands people like them varied based on the amount of news they consumed:
About a quarter of Democrats who are very interested in the news feel misunderstood (27 percent), compared with about four-in-ten of the somewhat interested (39 percent) and roughly half of those not interested (52 percent). Still, Democrats at all levels of news interest are much less likely than Republicans to feel misunderstood by the news media.

Pew surveyed 5,035 U.S. adults over two weeks in February and March 2018.

Anti-vaxxers are among the WHO’s top 10 global health threats, and Ebola fake news is killing people


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

Anti-vaxxers are one of the top 10 global health threats. The World Health Organization identified “vaccine hesitancy” — “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines” — as one of its top 10 health concerns facing the world in 2019. A 2018 study found that “philosophical-belief” vaccine non-medical exemptions have risen in 12 of the 18 states that allow them, and the authors noted:

While NMEs continue to rise in most of the 18 US states that allow them, several European countries, including France and Italy, as well as Australia, have taken measures to either make vaccines compulsory or even fine parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Romania has experienced serious Continue reading "Anti-vaxxers are among the WHO’s top 10 global health threats, and Ebola fake news is killing people"

The New York Times politics editor is building trust by tweeting context around political stories


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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You can guess the kinds of complaints The New York Times gets about its political coverage. It’s too biased, too liberal. Too much coverage of the horserace, not enough coverage of the issues. Too much “But her emails!” in 2016 and not enough Trump/Russia. Too much “Racists: They’re just like us.” With a new personal Twitter project, Patrick Healy — the Times’ politics editor and previously a reporter covering the 2004, 2008, and 2016 campaigns — is trying to address some of those concerns by giving people a view into the paper’s decision-making process. Healy “wanted to start engaging with readers about our intentions behind our stories,” he told me, in the hopes that more transparency — about why stories are chosen, why they’re framed a certain way, and what kinds of conversations go on between reporters and editors behind the scenes — can shore up trust in Continue reading "The New York Times politics editor is building trust by tweeting context around political stories"

Readers say that the best thing about paying for digital news is freedom from the paywall


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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What is the biggest benefit of paying for online news? Digital publishing firm Twipe surveyed nearly 4,000 people from six European countries and the U.S., and found that the most-cited reason for paying is unlimited access to stories — followed by, uh, access to print (with feeling good about paying for news quite a bit further down). Most of the people surveyed also spend between 5 and 20 minutes per day consuming news, so it’s not as if they’re reading everything they have access to, but the “all you can eat” feeling is appealing — knowing you could read it all if you wanted to. Respondents were clear that their favorite time to read news is the early morning, and “In Germany and Switzerland, a benefit that was mentioned by a few respondents was that the print newspaper comes too late to be included in their morning routines.
Continue reading "Readers say that the best thing about paying for digital news is freedom from the paywall"

“Here’s what else you need to know today”: The New York Times launches a flash audio briefing and other voice stuff for Alexa


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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The New York Times is pushing further into voice products for smart speakers. On Friday, the company announced that it’s launching a weekday flash news briefing called The New York Times Briefing for Alexa-enabled devices (hosted by Michael Barbaro, who is a busy man). It’s also debuting a weekly interactive news quiz from The Daily’s producers. While smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are in tens of millions of homes, consumers aren’t such big fans of news on the devices yet. A recent survey from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that users think most flash briefings are too long — a complaint the Times means to address with its new products. The weekday flash briefing will be around three minutes long; an episode of The Daily can stretch to around 25 minutes. While it was conducting research for its voice products, the Continue reading "“Here’s what else you need to know today”: The New York Times launches a flash audio briefing and other voice stuff for Alexa"