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
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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"

Clicks are an “unreliable seismograph” for a news article’s value — here’s new research to back it up


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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Go with your gut, not with the clicks: In a saturated media environment, news consumers most value news that is relevant to them — a factor that can’t be sussed out in a newsroom by measuring clicks, according to new research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (But you should still make sure you have a diverse group of guts you’re going off of.) “People frequently click on stories that are amusing, trivial, or weird, with no obvious civic focus. But they maintain a clear sense of what is trivial and what matters. On the whole people want to stay informed about what goes on around them, at the local, national, and international levels,” wrote Kim Christian Schrøder, a professor from Denmark who spent half of 2018 at Reuters. “To the extent that journalists prioritize news stories with civic value, they should trust their instincts
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Acing the algorithmic beat, journalism’s next frontier


This post is by Francesco Marconi, Till Daldrup, and Rajiv Pant from Nieman Lab


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Algorithms shape large parts of everyday life: our interactions with other people, what products we purchase, the information we see (or don’t see), our investment decisions and our career paths. And we trust their judgment: people are more likely to follow advice when they are being told that it came from an algorithm rather than a human, according to a Harvard Business School study.

How Capital Public Radio covered a community’s high suicide rate (and developed a tool for residents to keep)


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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Covering suicides has, sadly, become more and more codified in the journalism industry — literally, here’s a site called Reporting on Suicide. Don’t include how they died, link to a support hotline or other resources in the piece, use words like “died by suicide” instead of “successful attempt.” But that’s been largely reactive as more and more celebrities have died by suicide. Capital Public Radio, whose Sacramento-based airing area includes a community with the third highest rate of suicide in California, took a proactive approach last year. “When I worked for a number of years in the Bay Area, we had people throwing themselves off the Golden Gate Bridge quite frequently. It was always a ‘police activity’ and we never reported it as suicide,” Cap Radio’s managing editor for news and information, Linnea Edmeier, said. “When Robin Williams committed suicide, I felt like it was the first Continue reading "How Capital Public Radio covered a community’s high suicide rate (and developed a tool for residents to keep)"

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"

A major British government review proposes some light regulation of Google and Facebook (and perhaps new limits on the BBC)


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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It’s become something of a trend for national governments to convene a commission of some sort to review the status of their countries’ news industry — and to recommend what policies or regulatory changes might help sustain a vibrant free press. Australia had its Senate Select Committee last year and a new review that came out earlier this week; Canada held up its “Shattered Mirror” the year before. (The closest we get in the United States is probably the various Knight Commissions that, though not government-sponsored, do a similar job rounding up a broad set of stakeholders.) Now it’s the United Kingdom’s turn. Last year, the Conservative government announced an “independent review into the future of high-quality journalism in the U.K.”, to be led by Dame Frances Cairncross. (Perhaps more important than her damehood were her 30-plus years working in the newsrooms of The Guardian, Continue reading "A major British government review proposes some light regulation of Google and Facebook (and perhaps new limits on the BBC)"

In Liverpool, a football podcast has grown into a real media company — based mostly on listener payment, not advertising


This post is by Nicholas Quah from Nieman Lab


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Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 195, published February 12, 2019. That’s an (Anfield) wrap [by Caroline Crampton]. Hot Pod readers probably know that I’m based in the U.K., but I’m not sure it’s entirely clear that I don’t live in London. I moved away in the summer of 2017 after nearly a decade in the English capital, and nowadays I’m based in northwest England near Liverpool. That decision had nothing to do with podcasting, but since I moved here, I’ve become aware that one of the most interesting independent podcast companies happens to work out of central Liverpool — and that its success is intimately connected to its location. That company is The Anfield Wrap, which publishes a collection of mostly football (soccer, if you must) podcasts. It employs 11 people, has around 80,000 listeners for its weekly free shows, Continue reading "In Liverpool, a football podcast has grown into a real media company — based mostly on listener payment, not advertising"

With Supporting Cast, Slate wants to build the paid-membership layer of podcasting


This post is by Nicholas Quah from Nieman Lab


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As the Swedish dust from last week’s Spotify acquisition-palooza settles, there’s little time to wait. Slate, the veteran digital media company and purveyor of fine podcasts, announced this morning that it’s rolling out something called Supporting Cast, a new technology service meant to help podcast publishers set up paid subscription layers or membership programs. For some Slate superfans, what Supporting Cast aims to provide should sound familiar. The service was built off Slate’s experience creating and managing Slate Plus, its long-running membership program that provides paid users with additional content. (Which, by the way, has now grown to about 50,000 members.) That extra material includes exclusive podcast episodes, which has turned out to be a potent offering — former editor-in-chief Julia Turner once told me that there is “a ton of overlap” between Slate podcast listeners and Slate Plus members — but it is something that they Continue reading "With Supporting Cast, Slate wants to build the paid-membership layer of podcasting"

More than 240,000 people donated to nonprofit newsrooms via NewsMatch in 2018 (50,000 for the first time)


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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In journalism’s long and treacherous move away from ad dependency, the growing nonprofit news sector is trying to build a culture of philanthropy. At one level, that involves convincing foundations to send grants their way. But probably more important for the long term is building the habit of giving to news in a large number of individuals. So it’s heartening to hear that more than 240,000 people donated to 154 nonprofit newsrooms in 2018’s last two months as part of the NewsMatch program. Geared as a national grassroots campaign to stir up individual support — backed with checks from a coalition of journalism-friendly and local foundations and, new this year, Facebook — NewsMatch has brought $14.8 million over the past three years to nonprofit newsrooms since its launch in 2016. This year’s drive brought in more than half of that three-year total: a grand total of $7.6 million,
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Want to reduce political polarization? Save your local newspaper


This post is by Joshua P. Darr, Johanna Dunaway, and Matthew P. Hitt from Nieman Lab


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It almost seems impossible to ignore national politics today. The stream of stories about the president and Congress is endless; whether online, in print or on television, it’s never been easier to follow the action. National news outlets are adapting well to this environment: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal made big gains in digital subscribers in 2016 and 2017, CNN had its most-watched year ever in 2018, and The New York Times added 120 new newsroom staffers this year. But local newspapers aren’t doing as well. The past decade was brutal for the local press, and the numbers behind the collapse of local newspapers are staggering. In 2006, American newspapers sold over $49 billion in ads, employed more than 74,000 people and circulated to 52 million Americans on weekdays. By 2017, ad revenues were down to $16.5 billion (a 66 percent drop); the newspaper workforce fell
The Conversation
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Newsonomics: In the Consolidation Games, enter the bankers


This post is by Ken Doctor from Nieman Lab


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The bankers are now hired. Is the early 2019 newspaper chain M&A face-off now getting serious? It’s reminiscent of an earlier brand of warfare. Newspaper chains — all cutting desperately, each facing a shortening deadline to make a “digital transition” — line up their dealmaking armies, swords sharpened if not yet crossed. Gannett, having rejected the hostile takeover bid of Alden Global Capital, has decided to hire Goldman Sachs to advise it on the next rounds of dealmaking, I’ve learned. Goldman participated in Thursday’s Gannett/Alden meeting, alongside Greenhill, its ongoing deal-advising firm. As that meeting happened, Alden, with its banker Moelis, filed an alternative slate of directors for election at Gannett’s upcoming annual meeting. That action, though, is just another uncertain indicator of whether it’s Alden’s true intent to acquire Gannett, a number of insiders have told me. As Bloomberg’s Brooke Sutherland summed up well in her lede on
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Patch is launching paid, “ad-lite” memberships


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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"

Here’s where your new readers are going to come from in 2019


This post is by Kelsey Arendt from Nieman Lab


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Data has a habit of giving us advance signals about particular trends. It shouts: “Hey, something big is happening.” Like when we saw Facebook decline for six months before they announced official changes to their News Feed. Some of those trends jump out more than others. Wouldn’t it be great to predict how reliable those trends are? Things change fast online. I would want to be sure about a trend before investing resources in chasing it. So, using data we’ve gathered at Parse.ly, let’s take a deep dive into how platforms have changed over the past year — looking not just at the sheer size of the traffic shifts, but also how quickly they change. Platforms that look promising (SmartNews and, yes, still Flipboard), platforms that look like they’re slipping (Twitter), and platforms that cannot make up their damn mind (looking at you, Google). I want to
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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)"

In a hot week for audio, paid newsletterer Substack introduces a way for podcasters to earn money


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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In another snippet of podcast news this week — wait, you didn’t see the three pieces about the Spotify/Gimlet/Anchor news? — Substack, the all-in-one independent (paid) newsletter provider, is now offering support for subscriber-only audio, too. The added feature won’t make the same kind of splash as Spotify’s $230 million buy, of course. But Substack has garnered more than 35,000 paid subscribers across the newsletters it hosts, up from 11,000 when we last wrote about them in July 2018. That’s a big chunk, especially considering most of the newsletters also have a free tier, and now it can expand to podcasters as well. “We wanted to build through the core strength of Substack. You’re not paying for stuff or a product; you’re paying for a relationship with a writer, maybe now a podcaster, you really trust,” Hamish McKenzie, the company’s cofounder, said. There are a lot of Continue reading "In a hot week for audio, paid newsletterer Substack introduces a way for podcasters to earn money"

It’s time to apply for an Abrams Nieman Fellowship for Local Investigative Reporting


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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If you’ve read this site for any length of time, you’re well aware of the crisis in local news. Digital media, rather than decentralizing journalism geographically, has concentrated more of it in New York and Washington and Los Angeles and San Francisco than ever. The local newspaper bundle has been broken up; hours spent watching local TV news have shifted to Netflix. The job of distributing news — one done for decades mostly by delivery trucks and broadcast towers — now lies mostly in the hands of a few giant technology companies within a few miles of each other in Silicon Valley, none of whom have shown particular interest in tying together content and location. That crisis was the spark for the Abrams Nieman Fellowship for Local Investigative Journalism, which debuted here at the Nieman Foundation a little over a year ago. It shares a lot with the other Continue reading "It’s time to apply for an Abrams Nieman Fellowship for Local Investigative Reporting"

The New York Times is getting close to becoming a majority-digital company


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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The dream for any newspaper seeking to last longer than print itself is to transition its business model into digital. The New York Times is almost there. The Times announced its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 financials this morning, and there’s a lot of good news. (One quick heuristic I like to run with newspaper company earnings reports is searching the press release to see the ratio of “digital” mentions to “print” mentions. Today: 40 to 17.) The most important: The Times generated $709 million in digital revenue in 2018, putting it ahead of the ambitious goal it set out back in 2015 to hit $800 million in digital revenue by 2020. They’ll make that with little trouble — barring economic collapse, civil war, and so on. Flush with confidence, Times CEO Mark Thompson laid out a new goal: “to grow our subscription business to more than 10 million subscriptions
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