What is up with Apple’s screwy (and seemingly scammy) podcast charts?

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 180, published October 9, 2018. Have the Apple podcast charts felt weirder lately? Here’s a familiar scene: I’m trying to pass the time, so I pull up the Apple podcast charts to see what the youths are up to. (Ha.) This was my Sunday afternoon, and by that point, I hadn’t looked at the charts in a good few weeks. Part of this has to do with the way I learn about new projects these days: press releases, emails, text messages, phone calls, even a postcard once. But it mostly has to do with the fact that I haven’t found the Apple Podcast charts particularly useful in quite some time. Not for my purposes, anyway. On Sunday afternoon, this is what I saw: There’s a scene in The Matrix where that one creepy white dude looks at Continue reading "What is up with Apple’s screwy (and seemingly scammy) podcast charts?"

Stat, with subscriptions nearing 50 percent of revenue, looks to big companies for more members

Is man flu real? Is jet lag worse when you’re traveling east? Does smoking pot make you stupid? These are interesting questions, all of which appeared at one point in “Gut Check,” a column from health/medicine/life science site Stat. The column aimed to go “beyond the headlines to make sense of scientific claims.” But the last Gut Check column ran on December 20, 2017. “We cut it because we felt as if it was verging on WebMD a little too much,” said Rick Berke, Stat’s executive editor. “We needed to sharpen who our audience was, and that [column] felt a little too general…We’ve become focused a little more on the paying subscribers.” Nearly three years in, the audience for Stat — and its premium membership product, the $299/year (or $35/month) Stat Plus — is becoming more clear. It turns out, not surprisingly, that most of the Continue reading "Stat, with subscriptions nearing 50 percent of revenue, looks to big companies for more members"

Here’s how much Americans trust 38 major news organizations (hint: not all that much!)

Surveys about “media trust” suffer from a definitional problem. “Do you trust the media?” is a meaningful question only if we know what “the media” is. Is it The New York Times and CNN? Fox News and Breitbart? Occupy Democrats and your uncle’s memes on Facebook? In Gallup’s data on that question — which asks about “the mass media, such as newspapers, TV, and radio” — 72 percent of Americans trusted the media in 1976, post-Watergate. By 2016, that was down to 32 percent. But the media in 1976 was your local daily, Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, and Harry Reasoner. “The media” is something fundamentally different now, and a decline in trust is a rational reaction to that, even in an environment less polarized than our own. All this is to say that I find trust questions about specific news organizations a bit more useful, since you know with
Continue reading "Here’s how much Americans trust 38 major news organizations (hint: not all that much!)"

A new study provides some dispiriting evidence for why people fall for stupid fake images online

Shen called the findings of her study “upsetting,” and there is indeed a strain of #lolnothingmatters here that should be somewhat alarming both to publishers and to proponents of fake-news-fighting tools that rely heavily on identifying reliable sources. How do we react to misinformation without freaking out? The U.K. fact-checking organization Full Fact released a report this week arguing that “rushing to come up with quick solutions to the range of issues could do more harm than good.” Or, as the authors write, “People getting things wrong online is not in itself a harm that merits a policy response.” “Recognize that the greatest risk is of government overreaction and put the protection of free speech at the forefront of every discussion about tackling misinformation in its many forms,” the authors write. “We should take advantage of the window of opportunity we have to consider and deliver a Continue reading "A new study provides some dispiriting evidence for why people fall for stupid fake images online"

Requiem for a Tronc

On June 2, 2016, Tribune Publishing — what was at the time the newly spun-off newspaper half of what had for more than a century been known as the Tribune Company — announced it was changing its name. To…tronc. A name that managed to violate both the rules of English capitalization and the aesthetic sensibilities of anyone who likes to speak words aloud. Our Ken Doctor wrote a piece about the change, to which I added this editor’s note: Tronc’s managers, in truth, were far more interested in newspapers as a financial asset — cashflow-producing widgets to be milked until dry — than as anything approaching a civically useful institution. Talk of late has been about another sale — maybe to an “alternative investment” fund looking to make a short-term buck, maybe to some combination of McClatchy and Soon-Shiong — that would give the players a final profitable exit. But
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Newsonomics: With an expanding Wirecutter, The New York Times is doubling down on diversification

Imagine a world in which Donald Trump is no longer President.       No, really. Okay, if that concept’s beyond your immediate comprehension, let’s make the question a bit more concrete: Imagine what’ll happen to the news business in a world in which Donald Trump is no longer president. Yes, the Trump Bump in digital subscriptions is long gone, replaced by a steadier, lower-key growth rate for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. But traffic continues to go through the roof, alongside the nation’s temper. No one has ever seen news days, or news weeks, like this. Like all things, it’s unlikely to last. So the business question: If you ran a news company and could anticipate this future non-Trump time — one in which national attention isn’t riveted to every god-forbid smartphone notification — how might you prepare? You might pay more and more attention Continue reading "Newsonomics: With an expanding Wirecutter, The New York Times is doubling down on diversification"

How news organizations can guide through the “information jungle”

Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games
We got everything you want honey, we know the names
We are the people that can find whatever you may need
So that’s one way that journalists can approach their role. Researchers at the Lenfest Institute and UPenn’s Annenberg School for Communication went hunting for news deserts in their local community of Philadelphia, but through focus groups with 64 residents came back with the image of a news jungle instead. Here’s how Mariela Morales Suárez described it:
Instead of feeling they were not finding essential information and news, participants said they had too much information and news on their screens and that they had to opt out, sort through and hunt for information that they were actually interested in. The one important exception to this was participants of color, who repeatedly mentioned information gaps in the media about specific issues Continue reading "How news organizations can guide through the “information jungle”"