An analysis of 16,000 stories, across 100 U.S. communities, finds very little actual local news

We know that local journalism is suffering. We talk about news deserts and shuttering newspapers. Research has tended to focus on individual communities, or more broadly on certain types of journalism outlets and the coverage of certain types of topics. But what do the problems for local news look like on a broader level? Researchers from the News Measures Research Project at Duke analyzed more than 16,000 news stories across 100 U.S. communities with populations ranging from 20,000 to 300,000 people. (U.S. Census data identifies 493 such communities; the researchers chose a random sample of 100.) What they found isn’t promising: — Only about 17 percent of the news stories provided to a community are truly local — that is actually about or having taken place within — the municipality. — Less than half (43 percent) of the news stories provided to a community by local media Continue reading "An analysis of 16,000 stories, across 100 U.S. communities, finds very little actual local news"

The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote an audience-driven article using Instagram Stories (and it wasn’t even about a hippo)

If you follow news organizations on Instagram, you probably see a dozen news quizzes or “things to know” every week on your Instagram Stories. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong about testing followers on current events and sharing roundups. But on a platform that lets users vote, rate something’s emoji-level, ask questions directly, and more — there might just be opportunity for a little more engagement. If you follow the Cincinnati Enquirer, though, you might get the chance to decorate some digital coloring book pages of Fiona the Hippo, or even sound off on the city’s public transit problems — and have the newsroom hear you out.
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Facebook puts $4.5 million more into news support with a membership accelerator and News Match cash

When Facebook announced its subscription accelerator for certain local news organizations in February, we chalked it up as one move in the larger dance between publishers and platforms. Now, Facebook is taking another step in the tango (pasodoble?) with a new accelerator focused on memberships for local news groups, extending the original accelerator, and donating $1 million to a nonprofit news matching-gift campaign. (Um, also. Facebook acknowledged to Congress this week that it had discovered a political influence campaign with techniques similar to those used by Russia in the 2016 presidential race. And the company recently lost $120 billion in market value in what MarketWatch called “the ugliest single-session decline since the company went public in 2012.” Not everything is pretty here!) The 15 to 20 participants of the membership accelerator will be selected by Facebook, with input from the Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Continue reading "Facebook puts $4.5 million more into news support with a membership accelerator and News Match cash"

Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund selects a new round of projects to fund

Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund announced on Tuesday the 98 media projects it will be funding for Round 5 of applications. Those chosen will receive a slice of €21,137,000 (about USD $24.7 million), bringing Google’s DNI outlay to date to €115 million, of the €150 million it has committed. “Larger” projects received 65 percent of this round’s funding, 26 percent went to “medium” projects, and prototype projects received about nine percent. The Digital News Innovation Fund — previously known as the Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund, until Google rebranded its global journalism efforts under the rubric Continue reading "Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund selects a new round of projects to fund"

In Alabama, a small-town paper is figuring out digital advertising — and they’re doing it live

Digital advertising has, broadly speaking, been a disappointment for American newspapers. From 2013 to 2017, digital ad revenue for newspapers increased only about 8 percent — only barely beating inflation. (Meanwhile, overall digital ad spending — dominated by Google and Facebook — more than doubled over the same period.) But in the Alabama Piedmont, the Alexander City Outlook, print circulation of around 3,250, somehow managed to boost its digital ad revenue more than 80 percent in 2017 — from $56,000 to $104,000, Editor & Publisher reported recently. So how did the paper do it? Alexander City is a town of 14,773 people. While in many respects “Alex” City is just another small town outside of the more metropolitan city of Montgomery, the town newspaper, with a staff of three full-time reporters plus a managing editor, is anything but. (Tragically, after I started reporting this story, The Outlook’s editor
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Water in a news desert: New Jersey is spending $5 million to fund innovation in local news

Compared to its peers, the United States is notoriously stingy when it comes to government dollars supporting media. Norway spends about $135 per capita each year on its public broadcasters; Germany spends $107, the U.K. $86, France $55, and Canada $22. The U.S. spends about $2.25. (That’s about half a Starbucks grande iced caramel macchiato a year.) This week, though, one state — New Jersey — took a small step in the other direction. On Monday, leaders agreed on a new state budget that includes $5 million in funding for innovative projects to improve local news in the state. Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to give his final signoff soon.

A look at how foundations are helping the journalism industry stand up straight

Foundations across the U.S. are helping journalists watchdog the powerful — but who’s watching the foundations? The state of the journalism industry might be much more tattered right now if not for philanthropic dollars helping to sustain national and local news outlets like ProPublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Voice of San Diego, Texas Tribune, and others. Nonprofit news organizations have made so much progress in the past decade that now there’s even an playbook for how to make your own. But where is this money coming from, who is it going to, and how are these dollars reshaping journalism? (A piece by Julie Reynolds pointed out that the Knight Foundation has, in the past, invested in Alden Global Capital, the parent company of the “strip-mining” Digital First Media.) A study co-published by the Shorenstein Center and Northeastern University (and funded by a couple of foundations
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