Researchers crunched 13 TB of local newspaper subscriber data. Here’s what they found about who sticks around.


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Hey, local newspapers: Want to try to predict which of your subscribers are going to stick with you — and keep paying — no matter what? New research out of the Medill Local News Initiative at Northwestern suggests that creating a habit is the most important thing to focus on: The frequency of reading local news is “the single biggest predictor of retaining subscribers — more than the number of stories read or the time spent reading them.” In some cases, in fact, “high rates of story reading and time spent per story” were actually associated with people dropping their subscriptions. Yes, the researchers say, this is indeed a “puzzling surprise” (more on it below). Folks from Medill’s Spiegel Research Center, led by research director Edward Malthouse, analyzed 13 terabytes of anonymous reader and subscriber data from the Chicago Tribune, Indianapolis Star, and San Francisco Chronicle. In doing so, they Continue reading "Researchers crunched 13 TB of local newspaper subscriber data. Here’s what they found about who sticks around."

Happy birthday, Facebook! These are the 10 most important moments in your not-so-great relationship with the news industry


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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Facebook turns 15 today, and it wouldn’t be wrong to describe this as its awkward phase. Its limbs have grown unexpectedly quickly, and it’s a bit clumsy walking down the hall, all gangly angles and elbows. Its relationships with others at times seem governed less by reason than by something deeply adolescent. It gets into yelling matches with Dad, or else just sits sullen when it’s caught doing something it shouldn’t. Because it has become, alongside Google, the largest director of human attention in our species’ history, Facebook has impacted pretty much everything in one way or another in the past sesquidecade. But few have felt its force more than the news industry, which has tried at various times to steer into and against its gale-force winds — on net, to little success. So with Facebook celebrating a big day today, I thought it might be useful to look Continue reading "Happy birthday, Facebook! These are the 10 most important moments in your not-so-great relationship with the news industry"

In Japan, a content-sharing platform for publishers aims to even the playing field between big and small


This post is by Tim Hornyak from Nieman Lab


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Social media remains a dominant source of news for consumers in many countries, outpacing newspapers in 2018 in the U.S., where 45 percent of people get news from Facebook. News providers need any edge they can get to compete in a time of declining profitability and fake news. It’s no wonder, then, that outsourcing content management is now seen as an increasingly viable option for digital newsrooms. Jesse Knight, who spent more than seven years building an international-first platform for Vice Media, recently called for a common publishing platform, arguing it would let outlets use their resources more strategically: “If companies can set aside their (considerable) differences and use a single publishing platform, they could collectively mount a winning fight against Facebook.” Nordot is a Tokyo-based joint venture launched in April 2015 with backing from two of Japan’s biggest news companies, Kyodo News Digital and Yahoo Japan. Continue reading "In Japan, a content-sharing platform for publishers aims to even the playing field between big and small"

Spotify is in “advanced talks” to buy Gimlet, at a price the podcast industry has never seen before


This post is by Nicholas Quah from Nieman Lab


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If I had a podcast, this is when I’d drop an emergency pod, because this is Kristaps Porzingis-level. Recode’s Peter Kafka and The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin and Anne Steele both fired out the story Friday evening that Spotify, the Swedish music streaming company, is apparently in “advanced talks” to acquire Gimlet Media. Both articles cite sources familiar with the matter, and it’s worth noting that the situation remains somewhat fluid. Recode’s Peter Kafka had the story out first (barely), and he has the potential price on the deal: “A person familiar with the proposed deal says Spotify will pay more than $200 million in cash for the company.” I can add to that with a confirmation: A source familiar with the matter tells me that the specific price is $230 million. But the Journal’s story has a crucial detail you shouldn’t miss: “Talks are still ongoing Continue reading "Spotify is in “advanced talks” to buy Gimlet, at a price the podcast industry has never seen before"

Individually, people aren’t great at judging news sources. En masse, they’re almost the same as professional fact-checkers


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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“We find remarkably high agreement between fact-checkers and laypeople.” Building on a draft paper from last year, psychologists Gordon Pennycook and David Rand have a new study showing that people across the political spectrum rate mainstream news sources as more trustworthy than hyperpartisan and fake news sites — and that “politically balanced layperson ratings were strongly correlated with ratings provided by professional fact-checkers.” Herein lies a possible solution for social media companies trying to decide which news content to up-rank: Maybe they could try trusting the crowd. “Incorporating the trust ratings of laypeople into social media ranking algorithms may prove an effective intervention against misinformation, fake news, and news content with heavy political bias,” the authors write. Pennycook and Rand did find “clear partisan differences in trust of mainstream news.” In their studies of about 2,000 people, Democrats were much more likely to trust mainstream media
Continue reading "Individually, people aren’t great at judging news sources. En masse, they’re almost the same as professional fact-checkers"

Facebook roadblocks ProPublica’s ad transparency tool (gee, what a good time for a safe harbor)


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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In a year and a half, ProPublica collected 100,000 Facebook ads — and to whom they were targeted — through a browser extension installed by 16,000 volunteers. Its reporters used the tool to report on the targeting strategies of politicians and political groups, misleading tactics, and the fact that Facebook’s ad archive kept missing the very ads it was supposed to openly store — applying similar analysis as, say, its reporting that Facebook allowed discriminatorily targeted housing ads. Now, Facebook has shut part of that extension down, limiting it to just collect the ad content, not the “Why am I seeing this?” information that we all definitely click on. (Mozilla and Who Targets Me developed similar tools that were also affected.) Here’s ProPublica’s layout of the situation:
Facebook has made minor tweaks before that broke our tool. But this time, Facebook blocked the ability to automatically
™
Continue reading "Facebook roadblocks ProPublica’s ad transparency tool (gee, what a good time for a safe harbor)"

Why won’t The New Yorker keep you logged in? Mystery: Solved (kind of)


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Do you like remembering a username and password and typing them over and over on a tiny mobile screen? If so, I recommend a digital subscription to The New Yorker, which in addition to being probably the world’s greatest magazine is also bafflingly incapable of keeping a paying subscriber logged in. If you don’t believe me, ask Twitter. Representative sample:

Has Bill Simmons’ The Ringer figured out the model for podcast success?


This post is by Nicholas Quah from Nieman Lab


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Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 193, published January 29, 2019. The main event. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published a story that offers some insight into the podcast business over at The Ringer, the digital media operation Bill Simmons founded three years ago. Its podcasting health is something I’ve been wondering about for a while now — partly because their output makes up a disproportionate amount of my own personal listening, but mostly because I just find their rapid, iterative, enthusiasm-driven approach to podcast production compelling. In 2017, I called them one of the most interesting companies in podcasting due to their embrace of the fact that it “isn’t for everybody, but when it’s yours, it’s really, really yours.” From the sounds of the Journal report, headlined “For Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, Podcasting is the Main Event,” things are looking pretty Continue reading "Has Bill Simmons’ The Ringer figured out the model for podcast success?"

BuzzFeed laid off its Director of Quizzes because lots of people are willing to make quizzes for free


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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The impact of the deeper-than-expected multi-day cuts to BuzzFeed continue, with more layoffs being announced via tweet, with more of today’s seeming to come from the buzz side of the operation rather than the news side (which was hit hard on Friday).

Newspapers cost more than twice as much today as they did a decade ago (and that was a smart move by publishers)


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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If you’ve been a daily print newspaper subscriber for any length of time — whether it’s a seven-day morning habit you’ve had for decades or a Sunday-only New York Times subscription you have mainly so your four-year-old will sometimes see Dada reading something other than a screen :raised_hand: — you’ve noticed prices have gone nowhere but up. A seven-day print subscription to the Times will now run you over $1,000 a year in much of the country. A subscription to The Boston Globe here in Cambridge will run you about $750 a year. The Washington Post or The Dallas Morning News will each run you about $650. And if you’re in that dying breed of single-copy buyers at a newsstand or coffee shop, those four papers would cost you, on a weekday, $3, $2.50, $2, and $2.49, respectively. Those prices have gone up fast. As recently as 2013
Continue reading "Newspapers cost more than twice as much today as they did a decade ago (and that was a smart move by publishers)"

Do people fall for fake news because they’re partisan or because they’re lazy? Researchers are divided


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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“People who shared fake news were more likely to be older and more conservative.” Echoing other recent studies, researchers found that people who shared fake news on Twitter between August and December 2016 were likely to be older and more conservative, and were concentrated into a “seedy little neighborhood” on Twitter, according to Northeastern’s David Lazer — “Only 1 percent of individuals accounted for 80 percent of fake news source exposures, and 0.1 percent accounted for nearly 80 percent of fake news sources shared.” The authors suggest a few ideas for reducing the spread of fake news — for example, limiting the number of political URLs that any one user can share in a day:
Platforms could algorithmically demote content from frequent posters or prioritize users who have not posted that day. For illustrative purposes, a simulation of capping political URLs at 20 per day resulted in a Continue reading "Do people fall for fake news because they’re partisan or because they’re lazy? Researchers are divided"

In the latest sign things really are dire, BuzzFeed is laying off 15 percent of its staff


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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BuzzFeed is cutting about 15 percent of its workforce worldwide, around 220 jobs, The Wall Street Journal first reported and CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo to staff Wednesday evening. BuzzFeed “basically hit” $300 million in revenue for 2018, the Journal reported, but Peretti told staff that “revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run. The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again.” (Unspoken there is that raising another round (a) would be difficult in an environment where investors have lost most hope of a large-multiple exit and (b) would certainly require a significant drop in valuation from the $1.7 billion it fetched in 2016.) BuzzFeed also laid off 100 employees in late 2017. Late last year, the company Continue reading "In the latest sign things really are dire, BuzzFeed is laying off 15 percent of its staff"

It doesn’t take a ton of nasty comments to sink a reader’s perception of a news site


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Grandma adage aside, the comments matter, folks. Researchers at the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas found that uncivil comments on news stories can cloud a visitor’s perspective of a news site — even if more civil comments are presented first. Experiments with more than 1,500 testers showed that people who only saw uncivil comments had diminished loyalty, value, and overall positive attitudes toward the news site in question. Readers who encountered majority-civil comments weren’t as disheartened, but with the internet these days, that can be a hurdle. “Merely starting a comment [section] with civil comments is not enough,” wrote Gina Masullo Chen, Shuning Lu, and Ori Tenenboim in the study’s report. What did uncivil comments look like? LOTS OF CAPS-LOCK-YELLING, profanity, and name-calling. (Behave yourselves in the comment section here, dears.) It Continue reading "It doesn’t take a ton of nasty comments to sink a reader’s perception of a news site"

With tech’s reality a little too dystopian, The Verge is turning to science fiction for inspiration


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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Maybe you cringe when you see breaking news on (or about) Twitter, or flee from Facebook Portals, or can only imagine each dystopian news cycle drawing us closer to The Handmaid’s Tale. If so, try thinking of tech as a tool that can replicate you to keep your dog company after you die, or that can open-source a rocket ship to escape the charred Earth for Jovian Europa. Nice, pleasant thoughts. These are two storylines of the 11 The Verge is releasing over January and February as part of its Better Worlds project. It’s an attempt to brighten up their coverage of the dismal real world and push for science fiction that inspires. It’s the seven-year-old site’s first steps into fiction, and it’s planting the series across all its regular distributed platforms — but with less of a focus on Facebook. “The reality of doing journalism around science and Continue reading "With tech’s reality a little too dystopian, The Verge is turning to science fiction for inspiration"

How many paying subscribers do you need to keep a money-losing magazine afloat? Arkansas Life finds out


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




How many fans does it take to keep a regional print magazine afloat? In December, subscribers to Arkansas Life received a printed letter along with their January issue. “Arkansas Life will soon cease publication unless a substantial number of readers become paid subscribers,” the letter from Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Life, read. The magazine had been free for most readers since 2008, but now, Hussman wrote, its advertising-based business model was unsustainable. “In an effort to continue publication, we’re now asking appreciative readers to become paid subscribers at a rate of $20 a year,” the letter went on. “If most and enough of our readers respond to this appeal, the magazine will continue. If not, it will soon be gone like so many other printed publications in recent years.” The bottom of the paper contained a form that readers were supposed Continue reading "How many paying subscribers do you need to keep a money-losing magazine afloat? Arkansas Life finds out"

Google is threatening to kill Google News in Europe if the EU goes ahead with its “snippet tax”


This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab


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The European Union is considering a set of changes to digital copyright that are, well, quite controversial. One of those would require Google and other platforms to pay publishers for the right to display anything more than the tiniest snippet of a story in its search results or elsewhere. (Many, many details are both TBD and quite important — most significantly whether publishers can choose to opt out of the system.) In response, Google is threatening to kill Google News in Europe entirely if the changes go forward. Natalia Drozdiak reporting for Bloomberg:
Google News might be withdrawn from the continent in response to the new law, according to Jennifer Bernal, Google’s public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Google has various options, and the decision to pull out would be based on a close reading of the rules and taken reluctantly, she said…Google has said Continue reading "Google is threatening to kill Google News in Europe if the EU goes ahead with its “snippet tax”"

Kids podcaster Pinna is leaving the crib and ready to take its first steps solo


This post is by Nicholas Quah from Nieman Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 192, published January 22, 2019. Pinna stands alone. This morning, Graham Holdings announced that Pinna — the kids programming-focused paid listening service that originally launched in 2017 under the Panoply umbrella — is being spun out into a standalone company. The new entity will be led by CEO Maggie McGuire, a veteran of children-focused media divisions, including Scholastic, Viacom’s Nickelodeon, and Cablevision. The standalone Pinna will be backed by Graham Holdings, the company formed from what remained of The Washington Post Co. after the Post itself was sold to Jeff Bezos five years ago. Back when Pinna first rolled out, I considered the product to be “the first really interesting attempt to get people to pay for podcasts.” (Still do, given my arguments here.) But its fate was left uncertain in the wake of Panoply’s Continue reading "Kids podcaster Pinna is leaving the crib and ready to take its first steps solo"

Anti-vaxxers are among the WHO’s top 10 global health threats, and Ebola fake news is killing people


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

Anti-vaxxers are one of the top 10 global health threats. The World Health Organization identified “vaccine hesitancy” — “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines” — as one of its top 10 health concerns facing the world in 2019. A 2018 study found that “philosophical-belief” vaccine non-medical exemptions have risen in 12 of the 18 states that allow them, and the authors noted:

While NMEs continue to rise in most of the 18 US states that allow them, several European countries, including France and Italy, as well as Australia, have taken measures to either make vaccines compulsory or even fine parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Romania has experienced serious Continue reading "Anti-vaxxers are among the WHO’s top 10 global health threats, and Ebola fake news is killing people"

Nine steps for how Facebook should embrace meaningful interac— er, accountability


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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What would you put on Facebook’s to-do list? Well, a group of Oxford and Stanford researchers (Timothy Garton Ash, Robert Gorwa, and Danaë Metaxa) started with nine items, in their report released Thursday via Oxford and Stanford. (No funding for the report came from Facebook, but the company did provide “under the hood” access to them and other academics.) The focus is on ways Facebook could improve itself as a “better forum for free speech and democracy,” which, you know, the platform has had some struggles with in the past few years. Part of the report focuses on the amends Facebook has attempted, such as broader transparency with academics and policymakers and introducing content appeal processes, but also points to the impact (and issues) that can arise from self-regulatory actions instead of external policies. (Remember, senators, he sells ads!) “A single small change to Continue reading "Nine steps for how Facebook should embrace meaningful interac— er, accountability"

“Media is hard”: Corey Ford on why his media venture fund Matter is paused (for now)


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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In its seven years, Matter.vc has shepherded 73 media startups through eight accelerator programs, funded by two rounds of investments from a bunch of media companies. But to put it in old-school media terms, the presses have ground to a temporary — but maybe permanent — halt. This isn’t the definitive end of Matter, Corey Ford wants to remind you. He launched what was at first called the Public Media Accelerator after joining with PRX in 2012 to support more innovation in the space. (That followed a career path that included creating Emmy- and duPont-winning pieces at Frontline, earning an MBA at Stanford, and embedding in design-thinking and VC culture.) Here’s how we described Matter in its early days:
Ford said Matter represents a new model for investing in media innovation, which means they’ll be building a future not just for the startups, but also the program itself. Continue reading "“Media is hard”: Corey Ford on why his media venture fund Matter is paused (for now)"