“Checking Twitter…while being rushed into a bunker”: Considering fake news and nuclear war

Coming soon: The Disinformation Action Lab. Part of a group of Knight grants announced last week: The Data & Society Research Institute is getting $250,000 to launch the Disinformation Action Lab, which will “use research to explore issues such as: how fake news narratives propagate; how to detect coordinated social media campaigns; and how to limit adversaries who are deliberately spreading misinformation. To understand where online manipulation is headed, it will analyze the technology and tactics being used by players at the international and domestic level.” It continues the work of Data & Society’s Media Manipulation initiative (one of whose reports I covered here). The details of the Disinformation Action Lab — including who will be hired to lead it — are still being worked out, said Sam Hinds García, Data & Society’s director of communications. The publication of the May report “opened the door for Continue reading "“Checking Twitter…while being rushed into a bunker”: Considering fake news and nuclear war"

Can Canada build its own independent podcast industry in the True North strong and free?

Notes from north of the border. When it comes to the Canadian podcast industry, there seems to be a lot to talk about. At least, that’s what I found after writing up last month’s report from Ulster Media and The Globe and Mail about the country’s podcast listening statistics. That study, which you can find here, provided an independent sizing of the country’s overall podcast listenership: 24 percent of Canadians over the age of 18, or 7 million people, report consuming podcasts at least once a month. (A straightforward comparison with American numbers is tricky; Edison Research’s numbers place monthly podcast listenership in the U.S. at around 24 percent of the American population, or an estimated 67 million people, but its survey pool was of adults over the age of 12, not 18.) My writeup of the study was meant to be a quick one: I saw Continue reading "Can Canada build its own independent podcast industry in the True North strong and free?"

Here are three tools that help digital journalists save their work in case a site shuts down

The abrupt shutdown of the Gothamist and DNAinfo local news networks earlier this month was a stark reminder to digital journalists who want archives of their stuff: Back it up! Back it up! It isn’t just that news apps and digital interactives won’t last forever; as my colleague Shan Wang wrote in September in a look at broader archiving efforts, “so many pioneering works of digital journalism no longer exist online, or exist only as a shadow of their former selves.” The problem is also that digital journalists who will someday be looking for new jobs will probably need to share samples of their previous work with prospective employers, and that’s tough to do if the site you were working for is gone. Even if you’re not job-hunting, you may want evidence, years down the line, that you, you know — produced something. Luckily for journalists who haven’t had Continue reading "Here are three tools that help digital journalists save their work in case a site shuts down"

Village Media, relying on local advertisers, seems to have found a scalable (and profitable) local news model

Village Media is doing that weird thing where it’s using only digital advertising to support local news — and it’s working. With roots from an online coupon book in the early 2000s for local residents to print out discounts and bring them to the retailer in person, Village Media has evolved and expanded since 2013 to six news websites across half a dozen communities in Ontario, Canada and several partnerships for other news organizations across the region. The team of 35 people (plus a deep freelancer list), as a wholly digital operation, relies on an advertising base with 26 million page views per month across the sites, said Jeff Elgie, who took on the company in 2012 and is now CEO. “I speak a lot about this scarcity in local markets,” Elgie said. “There’s the scarcity of original journalism, which I believe people in small communities people still crave. Continue reading "Village Media, relying on local advertisers, seems to have found a scalable (and profitable) local news model"

Three years in, Discourse Media looks to membership to power its national expansion

Can a “scrappy West Coast startup” go national in an expansion based on crowd investment and a membership platform drawing on artificial intelligence? There are a lot of ingredients in that mix. As my colleague Shan Wang noted in Nieman Lab’s earlier coverage of Discourse Media, a “full-service” digital journalism organization based in Vancouver, Discourse does a bit of everything. CEO and editor-in-chief Erin Millar co-founded the company with two fellow beat reporters to develop a space for more enterprising, investigative stories in 2014; the company now employs more than a dozen people. The founders have spent the past 18 months researching and preparing for their national, membership-supported push. “It’s been a ton of support from every corner that I didn’t expect,” Millar said, days after announcing the expansion and opening the low-bar investing platform that encourages investment from ordinary Canadians as well as professional investors. “[The Canadian news Continue reading "Three years in, Discourse Media looks to membership to power its national expansion"

Bad news from Mashable, BuzzFeed, and Vice shows times are rough for ad-supported digital media

Thursday was a rough day for digital media. Within hours, a series of reports, some unofficial and others confirmed, underscored a bitter reality that’s become increasingly harder to avoid: Not even the biggest digital media startups are immune from the seismic shifts in digital advertising affecting the whole industry. The upshot: Ad-supported digital media is hard, and getting harder. Meanwhile, the duopoly — Google and Facebook — continue to see their own ad businesses thrive. Here’s a rundown: — More layoffs at Oath. Early in the day, Digiday’s Lucia Moses reported that Verizon’s Oath, which includes The Huffington Post, AOL, Yahoo, and some ad tech products, was laying off 560 staffers, around 4 percent of the company’s overall headcount. Those cuts were in addition to the 2,100 Verizon laid off when it acquired Yahoo in June. — Mashable sells low. Probably the most brutal news of the day came from The Continue reading "Bad news from Mashable, BuzzFeed, and Vice shows times are rough for ad-supported digital media"

Asking members to support its journalism (no prizes, no swag), The Guardian raises more reader revenue than ad dollars

Instead of using tote bags, tickets to live events, or other swag, The Guardian‘s membership program has grown to 800,000 supporters a year and a half after doubling down on its membership initiative. The key? A shift from a commercially focused plea to an emotional, service-based request, the two women leading the effort said. “Our appeal is very much an appeal from The Guardian,” Amanda Michel, deputy executive editor of membership and senior product manager for acquisitions and data technology, said. “It doesn’t speak to the section they’re in. It doesn’t speak to what they read. It speaks to the heart of the Guardian’s moment.” Financial difficulties struck The Guardian, the London-based, trust-owned international news organization, in recent years, with the print-to-digital advertising downturn that wracked news industries around the world. It had also taken on an ambitious plan to expand internationally following its coverage of Edward
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