The AP has another plan to track its content across the Internet, and this time it involves blockchain, naturally


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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It is the year of our lord 2018, and the words “The Associated Press” and “journalism blockchain startup” have now appeared in the same sentence. Part of their new intersection, reported by Digiday, is pretty boring — the AP is licensing its stories to the 14 publications currently attached to the aforementioned startup Civil, just as it does with plenty of other outlets. The other part is a little more interesting: The two companies will coordinate on a blockchain-based effort to let Civil newsrooms track the flow of their content and enforce licensing rights. The AP is also getting some CVL tokens, the currency of the Civil ecosystem that also gives their holders a voice in governing the editorial activities within that ecosystem, though that public sale has now been pushed back to September 18. (Hope you’ve been studying for the quiz.) As Digiday describes it, the arrangement Continue reading "The AP has another plan to track its content across the Internet, and this time it involves blockchain, naturally"

Billy Penn, Denverite, and The Incline are all going after members. Can they become predominately reader-supported?


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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It’s a member, it’s a contributor, it’s a customer — no, it’s that saintly reader whose main interest is supporting these local news sites and keeping the journalism free to read for others who can’t afford it. Last fall, Spirited Media was laying off staff at each of its three publications. Earlier this year, it shifted its strategy to seeking significant reader support, namely, membership (contributions, donations, gifts, whatever you want to want to call it), a business decision that a whole slew of other sites both large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, legacy or startup, have converged on in the past several years. “We had just come off a lot of internal turmoil in the newsroom that left me with one reporter when I took over. People who care about journalism were aware that it might be a weird time to be asking people for support — um, wait,
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Is there really data that heavy Facebook use caused…erm, is correlated with…erm, is linked to real-life hate crimes?


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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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.

Study says heavy Facebook use is linked to more hate crimes against asylum seekers in Germany. Wait, is that what it says? The New York Times on Monday published a story, datelined from a “pro-refugee” German town, exploring the terrifying trajectory of actual German Facebook superusers who become radicalized through their intense activity in anti-refugee bubbles on social media, and commit real-life acts of violence. The piece, by Amanda Taub and Max Fisher of the Interpreter column, leaned on a previously covered working paper from researchers at the University of Warwick, and described the paper’s key finding as follows:

Towns where Facebook use was higher than average, like Altena, reliably experienced more attacks
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So your news organization has real, paying digital subscribers. Now how do you keep them?


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Raking in first-time subscribers is one thing. Getting these paying news readers to stay paying is another. A new WAN-IFRA report walks through several case studies of news organizations (note: mostly European), that have found some success retaining their paying subscribers, through an elusive combination of consistently offering readers the news experience they want, and tracking relevant metrics to address problem points that might lead them to unsubscribe. Easier said than done; we hear you. The news organizations represented in the report range from national to local-level outlets, and their paywall and audience growth strategies run the gamut. Many of them have the backing of a significant editorial, tech, analytics, and sales teams. Still, here are several ideas to steal:

“What does a subscription to X really do for me?”

Access to good, walled-off content isn’t necessarily enough to keep subscribers: “It’s about understanding what it is that your
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We’re getting closer to the day when news apps and interactives can be easily preserved in perpetuity


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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What if all the interactives a news organization ever made could be stored somewhere, accessible in the same form forever, even as the technologies people might use to access them change? That’s the dream, and that’s what a small team led by Katherine Boss, the librarian for journalism, media, culture and communication at New York University, and Meredith Broussard, assistant professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU, are trying to get the news industry closer to. It’s a question that many people in the libraries world and a smaller set of people in the news industry have been worrying about and working on for some time. Boss and Broussard’s team will be building software that can zip up the entirety of a news app, using ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database (which tracks payments pharmaceutical and medical device companies made to doctors) as a test case. Continue reading "We’re getting closer to the day when news apps and interactives can be easily preserved in perpetuity"

Jack Dorsey says Twitter is experimenting with features to promote “alternative viewpoints” in people’s timelines


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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All unhappy social media networks are unhappy in their own ways. Twitter has capped off a weird week of equivocating over the presence of Alex Jones and InfoWars on its platform as other platforms like Facebook and YouTube finally decided to boot Infowars content. (Jones is currently facing a seven-day mini-ban, putting his account in “read-only mode.” He can still read tweets and send DMs, but he can’t tweet himself, like, or RT anything.) Now, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says the platform will be experimenting with “features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation,” according to an interview Dorsey gave to the Washington Post. Twitter would also consider adding “context” around false tweets, a practice YouTube is also testing through partnerships with Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Brittanica. From the Post:
Dorsey said Twitter hasn’t changed its incentives, which were originally designed to nudge people to
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Has the GDPR law actually gotten European news outlets to cut down on rampant third-party cookies and content on their sites? It seems so


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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It seems that a fairly severe, sweeping data privacy law in Europe could be the incentive news organizations needed to trim the number of third-party cookies and content loading on their sites before readers have a chance to give explicit consent, according to a Reuters Institute report on a wide selection of news sites in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. A prequel report from RISJ, released a few weeks before the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect May 25, found that some news sites researchers looked at were worse than popular non-news websites when it came to third-party content. These news sites averaged 40 different third-party domains per page and 81 third-party cookies per page, compared to an average of 10 and 12, respectively, for other popular non-news websites. (Researchers collected the data in the first three months of this year.) This
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Read Nieman Lab stories in other languages — and help us translate them into more!


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Did you know you can read many Nieman Lab stories in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish? Over the past couple of years, through the help of many partners, from the likes of IJNet to Yomiuri Shimbun to Outriders to Tencent, we’ve been trying to expand the number of people who can more easily access our reporting on the future of news. You can browse what’s available now over at our brand new translations page here (and let us know if you spot typos, have suggestions, want to help us translate Nieman Lab stories or know someone who can help, or otherwise want to know more). We want to hear from you, whether you’re an individual with translation experience, an established news outlet, a growing media startup, a tech platform with a media portal, or something in between.
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In Germany, a news site is pairing up liberals and conservatives and actually getting them to (gasp) have a civil conversation


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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If only online dating could go as smoothly. As an attempted antidote to sociopolitical polarization in its country — particularly all the hateful logjams that play out online — the German national news site Zeit Online has developed a seemingly simple mechanism of matching up people who live near each other but have different views on policy, and encouraging them to meet offline to hash out their disagreements. The site, the digital home of national weekly paper Die Zeit, likened its My Country Talks initiative to “political Tinder.” The idea of trying to temper animosity through in-person interaction isn’t entirely original, but My Country Talks successfully seized a moment. In its inaugural edition, about 12,000 people completed Zeit Online’s short survey of yes-or-no questions around politically divisive issues (such as the number of refugees the country was accepting, or whether the West was treating Russia fairly). Of those, 1,200 Continue reading "In Germany, a news site is pairing up liberals and conservatives and actually getting them to (gasp) have a civil conversation"

WhatsApp is a black box of viral misinformation — but in Brazil, 24 newsrooms are teaming up to fact-check it


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Another big national election means another big collaborative fact-checking initiative. But this one will get a small but important assist from the Facebook-owned messaging behemoth WhatsApp — where a healthy share of the world’s misinformation gets distributed. Comprova, a fact-checking collective made up of 24 newsrooms around Brazil, launched Monday. It will monitor mis- and disinformation in the lead-up to the country’s elections on October 7 (and the second round of runoffs October 28). Like the 90-organization strong Verificado in Mexico, and First Draft-run fact-checking collaborations like CrossCheck before it, the partner newsrooms will collect tips, respond to rumors and information that it finds spreading, publish stories, and sometimes report collectively. But the newsrooms in Comprova will benefit from access to the just-launched WhatsApp Business API, which will allow newsrooms on the Comprova side to respond to reader submissions (and refute misinformation) at significantly greater scale. (Comprova
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What is a Scandinavian media company’s first-ever director of public policy up against?


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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GDPR and forthcoming ePrivacy regulations around consumer data protections. Antitrust fights and fines, new taxation proposals, a continued unpleasant relationship between technology platforms and news organizations. And no respite in sight. Karin Pettersson, Schibsted’s new director of public policy and the first to hold such a role within the Scandinavian media giant, is diving into the middle of these monumental policy changes rumbling across Europe. She’s acting as Schibsted’s unifying voice when it comes to the regulatory issues the company should be concerned with, and how it should be an active player in the space. Schibsted is best known for its newspapers, its online classifieds business, its internal tech prowess, and, increasingly, its public position as a foil to the scale and automation-focused forward march of far larger tech companies like Google and Facebook. Pettersson, a 2016 Nieman Fellow, was previously the political editor of Swedish daily Aftonbladet.
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From a beloved blog to one sold-out show after another at a national theater, history gets an anti-colonialist retelling


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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To hear the creators behind this series of sold-out plays tell it, the shows were always meant for the stage. “It sounded like a joke at first,” the Kenyan writer Morris Kiruga told me over a series of WhatsApp messages over the past few months. “But using several unofficial polls (such as a Twitter poll on how much people were willing to pay), we realized there was an actual audience for performance-based history now more than ever.” Kiruga also writes under the name Owaahh, the title of his niche Kenyan history and current affairs site that covers stories of people, cultural flashpoints, and political events through a lens of challenging traditional, often colonialist narratives. The site, now eight years old, had always been rigorously researched — archives, interviews, reporting — and vividly written. (See: What happened to the two moon rocks Kenya received from the Apollo 11 and 17 Continue reading "From a beloved blog to one sold-out show after another at a national theater, history gets an anti-colonialist retelling"

Blockchain journalism startup Civil launches a $1 million pot to support media startups in Asia


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Here’s some news about tangible money. Civil, the earnestly hopeful, sometimes scorned, promise-filled blockchain-crypto journalism startup that’s managed to attract about a dozen new publications and hoping to kick off a public sale of its own CVL tokens, is partnering with Splice Newsroom to distribute a $1 million pool of money to “help create 100 media startups in Asia over the next three years.” Like the money for grants that are going to Civil’s “first fleet” of newsrooms on its platform, the $1 million comes out of the $5 million Civil raised from Consensys last year. From the Splice announcement on Tuesday (Singapore time):
Splice and Civil will create a $1 million fund to catalyze the growth of media startups in Asia. Splice will manage this fund and make pre-seed, micro-investments to help entrepreneurs take their ideas to prototype stage, and with the support of this network and community, Continue reading "Blockchain journalism startup Civil launches a $1 million pot to support media startups in Asia"

Want to support journalism with cryptocurrency on Civil? First you must pass this really hard quiz


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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What is gas (not that kind)? What is a “hot” wallet versus a “cold” wallet? When purchasing a token, what do you care most about? Are you leveraging a home equity line to purchase Civil tokens? What percent of your total assets (crypto and non-crypto) are in tokens (not including ether or bitcoin)? If you were at all considering investing in cryptocurrency to support the many newsrooms that have partnered with the blockchain journalism startup Civil, and if you want to participate in Civil’s democratic and convoluted governing structure, you’ll need to be able to answer these, and other vetting questions, to token-buying platform Token Foundry’s satisfaction. I failed the quiz and got directed to the mega-explainer “30 Things To Know Before Your First Token Sale,” which includes links to whitepapers and will remain open in a tab in my browser until the end of time. Twenty-four hours
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Hybrid, a collection of targeted news sites in Asia, embraces growing slowly and knowing its audience


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Which comes first, the readers or the content? The sites in the portfolio of the modest media company Hybrid have been exacting about matching specific audiences to relevant news and information, and relevant advertisers to those relevant readers. It’s a strategy that’s easier said than done but executed faithfully across all Hybrid’s news sites. “We saw an opening in Asia, where it seemed like there was a mixing pot of individual bloggers saying what they wanted to say, in the middle of a lot of mainstream media that was at the time — and still is — owned by rich people who wanted influence. What started as I suppose a bit of blogging project, got bigger,” James Craven, Hybrid’s managing director, told me. “We had a vision for a young, upwardly mobile audience, who we’d really try to inform with independent and hopefully compelling content.” Craven grew up in
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The investigations and reporting of BuzzFeed News — *not* BuzzFeed — are now at their own BuzzFeedNews.com


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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BuzzFeed has always had a branding conundrum. It produces fun quizzes people love to take, listicles centered around identities people love to share, and wildly popular food and recipe videos through its brand Tasty. It produces a ton of video series, like Pero Like and the Try Guys, or BuzzFeed News’ Twitter-native morning show AM to DM. It has dealings in Hollywood; it’s working with Netflix on a docuseries featuring its reporters, with Hulu for a documentary based on its investigations into R. Kelly. It sells merchandise, like Tasty cookbooks and fidget spinners with the word “chill” on them. BuzzFeed News has produced a Pulitzer finalist each of the past two years, and it regularly produces some of the most rigorous journalism around (for just a fraction: see here, here, here, here, and here). But it’s always been confusing to readers, where the Continue reading "The investigations and reporting of BuzzFeed News — *not* BuzzFeed — are now at their own BuzzFeedNews.com"

When a link to a news story comes shows the source of the story, some people end up trusting it less


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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People don’t always remember the precise source of their news. Pew Research found in a recent study that Americans could come up with a publisher behind a news story they’d clicked on only 56 percent of the time. (And that’s assuming they were remembering the source correctly, which the study had no way to check.) But people actually seem to trust news articles they click into less when the stories come labeled with the news outlet that published it. That’s especially true with certain outlets, including Vox, Fox News, and Breitbart News. (As my colleague Laura Hazard Owen asked in her coverage of a previous Knight study analyzing people’s perceptions of bias, do people know what Vox does? Are they confusing it with Fox? Are they familiar with Breitbart News?) That’s the finding from more than 3,000 U.S. adults who looked at and rated the trustworthiness (on
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Three multi-billion-dollar companies dominate the Chinese internet landscape, from news media to AI


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Internet penetration in China is at around just under 56 percent, according to a report released this year by the Chinese internet administrative agency CNNIC, which means there were around 772 million internet users in the country as of last December (and 753 million mobile internet users). These numbers have surely only grown since. (China’s still well below the U.S.’s internet penetration of 89 percent, though China’s connected population is well over twice the entire population of the U.S.) A new China Internet Report out this week was compiled jointly by 500 Startups, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), and SCMP’s China tech site Abacus, and it offers fresher numbers illustrating the reach and ambition of Chinese tech companies, the aggressive influence of the Chinese government, and the behaviors and preferences of Chinese internet (well, let’s just basically say mobile phone) users.
China-U.S. key players
Shortform video apps
Toutiao and Tencent for news
Internet penetration in rural areas of China
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YouTube has a plan to boost “authoritative” news sources and give grants to news video operations


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday announced a few improvements it intends to make to the news discovery and viewing experience. The platform has had a bit of a bad run recently: surfacing videos that accuse mass-shooting survivors of being crisis actors, hosting disturbing videos targeting children, encouraging radicalizing behaviors through its recommendation algorithm, frustrating content creators trying to figure out monetization on the platform, blindsiding Wikipedia by saying it would use it to provide context and debunking. (YouTube employees themselves came under attack in April, when a woman shot three people at its headquarters in San Francisco before killing herself.) The post about the platform’s coming changes, rosily titled “Building a better news experience on YouTube, together,” outlines new initiatives, including $25 million worth of grants for news organizations around the world to build out their video operations and tests of local news boosts in YouTube’s connected
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