To Philly and beyond: The Lenfest Institute announces $2 million in funding for local news projects

Philadelphia’s journalism ecosystem is getting a big infusion of support. The Lenfest Institute announced the winners of its local news innovation grants and its first cohort of entrepreneurs-in-residence Thursday morning. A total of $1 million is going to 12 different projects and to five individuals working on local-news focused projects. (This support in part comes from the Knight Foundation. Disclosure: the Knight Foundation is also a supporter of Nieman Lab.) Several grantees, such as WHYY and WURD radio stations and Technically Media, are Philadelphia-based. Other grantees, such as California Bay Area’s local news site Berkeleyside (which is getting a boost to complete its direct public offering initiative), might serve as good case studies for other local news markets looking to test out new ideas on either the business or editorial front. And others, like the News Revenue Hub, which helps smaller news outlets across the U.S. develop Continue reading "To Philly and beyond: The Lenfest Institute announces $2 million in funding for local news projects"

What newsroom execs around the world think should be the next big areas of focus for their companies

“What is the single most important risk to your news organizations’ future success?” The top answer, according to a new WAN-IFRA report that surveyed 235 news executives and other managers working in media across 68 countries, was “reluctance to innovate,” followed by concerns over finding new revenue streams and a sustainable business model. (Only 5 percent cited Google and Facebook, though of course they intersect with the business model worries.) Almost two thirds of those surveyed reported that revenues at their organizations have declined over the past year; about a quarter, though, reported that revenues were up (the “highest proportion of positive responses,” the report mentions, since a version of this study was first conducted in 2009 during the global recession). The executives surveyed fell into three distinct buckets: Some were staunch defenders of a traditional, mostly advertising-driven revenue model (only eight percent of those surveyed fell into
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For most Americans, science news is just something they stumble across, mostly from general news outlets

Science publications, take note: 36 percent of U.S. adults get science news a few times in a week. Thirty percent say they actively look for science stories. But only 17 percent both seek out science news on their own and read science stories at least a few times every week. Moreover, though people believe specialized sources (science video programming, science museums, science news magazines) are more accurate in their reporting of scientific developments, they’re still getting most of their science news from general interest outlets. These findings are taken from a Pew Research Center report published Wednesday, which analyzes results from a panel of 4,024 U.S. adults 18 or older surveyed between May and June of this year. Even among people who actively seek out science news, a majority rely on general interest news outlets for it (54 percent). Among casual and uninterested science news consumers, 71 percent
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Univision is trying out WhatsApp to distribute news and information during hurricane emergencies

Newsrooms’ well-worn refrain about their audiences — we need to meet them where they are — means something more urgent in the middle of a category five hurricane. Where are the shelters? Where can I get water and food? Where is the storm now? Univision Nathalie Alvaray, Univision’s manager of local digital news, and four other newsroom colleagues began sending out brief but constant bulletins to a WhatsApp group Alvaray created to field questions around Hurricane Irma as it was bearing down on Miami — where major Univision studios and business operations are based — after destroying parts of the Caribbean. WhatsApp is barely used for news by the general U.S. population; just 3 percent of U.S. adults surveyed in the 2017 Reuters Institute Digital News report have used it to share or discuss news. But it reigns among mobile apps throughout Latin America (and, well, most
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BuzzFeed’s strategy for getting content to do well on all platforms? Adaptation and a lot of A/B testing

OMG: BuzzFeed gets so many of its posts — from Facebook videos to quizzes to listicles (though apparently it no longer refers internally to articles in numbered format as ‘listicles’) to go viral through tailoring subject matters to the platforms with the most receptive audiences, plus constant A/B testing. BuzzFeed data infrastructure engineer Walter Menendez shared an overview of the publisher’s strategy at a talk at MIT on Thursday night. There’s no one secret sauce, and many other digitally savvy publishers employ related tactics (though there were internal benchmarks and metrics BuzzFeed uses that Menendez declined to share during the talk). “The core secret, I guess, is that we’re focused on people. When we’re thinking about ways that we make content, we focus ultimately on the end user engagement and the emotional state they’ll have after reading our content,” Menendez said. “We want to focus on making sure we’re not just
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What makes people willing to pay for news online? Quality content; a clean, convenient reading experience

If you build a quality news brand and deliver that news in a quality format that’s convenient, customizable, and clean, readers will come — and maybe pay. This is according to a qualitative report published Friday that was commissioned by the Reuters Institute and undertaken by the firm Kantar Media (with funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative). For the report, researchers interrogated news consumers’ openness to paying for (or not paying for) news online through discussion groups in four countries — Finland, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S. Participants in the study were asked, for instance, their feelings on various possible propositions from news organizations, such as “turn off your adblocker,” “please pay for an ad-free experience,” “pay for a membership with benefits,” “pay for unrestricted access.” (These in-person discussions were used to inform the 2017 Reuters Institute main report on digital news.) People in the Continue reading "What makes people willing to pay for news online? Quality content; a clean, convenient reading experience"

Stopping fake news on social can feel like playing whack-a-mole. This tiny fact-checking operation in India thinks it’s making a small dent

Vigilante mobs beat several men to death in separate incidents in the central Indian state of Jharkhand this past May. The violence was incited in part by rumors circulating on WhatsApp that strangers were abducting children, rumors that were fabricated. In a country where rural mobile internet use grew 26 percent, compared to nine percent growth in urban areas, according to latest available figures from the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB, social mobile apps like Facebook and WhatsApp are perfect vectors for misinformation targeted at the millions of people getting news online, on their phones, for the first time. Quashing misinformation in this environment may feel like playing whack-a-mole, but the six-month-old Alt News is throwing its three-person operation behind the cause, trying to debunk popular rumors and sniff out the creators of fake news articles, with an eye in particular toward what it Continue reading "Stopping fake news on social can feel like playing whack-a-mole. This tiny fact-checking operation in India thinks it’s making a small dent"