How The Wall Street Journal is preparing its journalists to detect deepfakes

Artificial intelligence is fueling the next phase of misinformation. The new type of synthetic media known as deepfakes poses major challenges for newsrooms when it comes to verification. This content is indeed difficult to track: Can you tell which of the images below is a fake? (Check the bottom of this story for the answer.) We at The Wall Street Journal are taking this threat seriously and have launched an internal deepfakes task force led by the Ethics & Standards and the Research & Development teams. This group, the WSJ Media Forensics Committee, is comprised of video, photo, visuals, research, platform, and news editors who have been trained in deepfake detection. Beyond this core effort, we’re hosting training seminars with reporters, developing newsroom guides, and collaborating with academic institutions such as Cornell Tech to identify ways technology can be used to combat this problem. “Raising awareness in the newsroom
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Consumers love smart speakers. They don’t love news on smart speakers. (At least not yet.)

Smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are rapidly gaining in popularity, but use of news on the devices is lagging, according to a report released Wednesday night by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Use of the devices for music and weather is still far ahead of news use. And among consumers’ complaints about news briefings: They’re too long. Luckily, there’s time for news publishers to catch up, finds Nic Newman, a senior research associate at RISJ, who did his research via in-home interviews and focus groups, online surveys, and publisher interviews. (He also tapped Amazon, Apple, and Google for whatever data they were willing to share — which, unsurprisingly, wasn’t a lot; none of the companies would share data on how many devices they’ve sold or discuss trends in how news is consumed on them.) Smart speakers are still devices for early adopters:
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25 newsrooms have attempted to bridge divisions — in person. Here’s what they’ve learned

A bunch of strangers walk into a room, and journalists try to get them to get to know — or at least not hate — each other. That’s not a joke; it’s the goal of 25 news organizations’ engagement initiatives studied by the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. The 2016 (and 2018) elections effed up a lot of people and their trust in media, as we all know, and news organizations have been experimenting with ways to improve trust face-to-face and across wrenching divisions. But…what comes out of those events besides a lot of extroversion and handshake germs? How many gatherings are needed to finally start whittling away at stereotypes? Is convening community members with drastically different views a service or a spectacle used for reporting? Can these meetings possibly change people’s perceptions of “the media” — and each other? Looking Continue reading "25 newsrooms have attempted to bridge divisions — in person. Here’s what they’ve learned"

So some people will pay for a subscription to a news site. How about two? Three?

The path forward for premium media is seemingly clear: Put up a paywall. Digital advertising is a duopoly-dominated mess; any print or broadcast cross-subsidy you might have is declining at one speed or another. Your loyal core digital readers may be only a tiny fraction of that big “monthly uniques” number you put into press releases — but some of them are willing to pay for what you do. Reader revenue is relatively reliable, month to month or year to year, and it’s at the center of media company plans for 2019 and beyond. But how many paywalls will people really pay to click past? It’s worked for The New York Times; it’s worked for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. But does it work for local newspapers? Metro dailies? Weekly or monthly magazines? Digital native sites? The data thus far isn’t super encouraging, and that’s the world
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Pandora wants to map the “podcast genome” so it can recommend your next favorite show

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 185, published November 13, 2018. Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project enters the wild. Sydney Pollack had a great line in Michael Clayton where he wags his finger at George Clooney’s down-in-the-dumps fixer protagonist saying: “Fer chrissakes, Michael, you’ve got something everybody wants! You have a niche!” That line popped into my head when I first heard that Pandora was planning to graft its famed Music Genome Project onto the podcast universe. I mean…it makes sense. If the company was going to start properly distributing podcasts, this would be the way in. It’s great to have a niche, a thing only you have in the world. If you were born with a hammer for an arm, why wouldn’t you smash everything? This morning, Pandora’s podcast offering, powered by the “Podcast Genome Project,” begins rolling out beta access to select Continue reading "Pandora wants to map the “podcast genome” so it can recommend your next favorite show"

The New York Times is digitizing more than 5 million photos dating back to the 1800s

The New York Times is digitizing more than 5 million photos from its archives — some dating back to the 1800s — with help from a variety of Google technologies. The photos will be used in a series called Past Tense. (First up: a package focusing on how the paper covered California in the 20th century.) “Ultimately, this digitalization will equip Times journalists with useful tools to make it easier to tell even more visual stories,” Monica Drake, Times assistant managing editor, said in a statement. From CNET:
The newspaper’s “morgue” has 5 million to 7 million photos dating back to the 1870s, including prints and contact sheets showing all the shots on photographers’ rolls of film. The Times is using Google’s technology to convert it into something more useful than its current analog state occupying banks of filing cabinets. Specifically, it’s using Google AI tools to
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Facebook Groups are “the greatest short-term threat to election news and information integrity”

Facebook has not “fixed it.” While nothing totally horrible, fake news-wise, appears to have happened on the United States’ Election Day this week, extensive research published this week by Jonathan Albright (whom I interviewed last year) shows what was still happening on Facebook three days before the midterms, in a three-part Medium series. “It’s the scale of the problems, not the sum of the problems, that represents the greatest threat,” Albright writes. “The issues I’ve found on Facebook the past few months — through large-scale analytics, content analysis, extensive political ad archive querying, and upon the close inspection of thousands of posts and information-sharing activities — involve patterns that have been on the radar of the company’s leadership and American politicians since the last election. They’ve been revisited in scores of hearings, broadcast on television, and recited around the country in ‘how we’re fixing it’ slide decks. Continue reading "Facebook Groups are “the greatest short-term threat to election news and information integrity”"