“There is no Wirecutter for the poor,” but if there were, what would it look like?


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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There’s no dearth of informative content for affluent readers — see the surge of coverage of Amazon’s Prime Day earlier this week, when countless news organizations and websites trotted out their guides to the best deals and simultaneously raked in affiliate revenue. The New York Times’ successful Smarter Living section and newsletter appeal to people who have enough free time and money to not just get through the day but to hack it. But for all of the people who have the kinds of jobs that allow them the space and flexibility to shop for the best deals on smart doorbells and stick vacuums from their desks, there are way more people for whom that’s unfathomable — and news organizations need to be doing a better job of serving them. Initiatives like the Detroit-based Outlier Media, which mass-texts local information on topics to like housing, inspections, and utilities, is, well, Continue reading "“There is no Wirecutter for the poor,” but if there were, what would it look like?"

Who wants to share government content? In recent European elections, not many people


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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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.

In the EU, junk is replacing news from the government, not news from the mainstream media. People in France, the UK, and Germany shared plenty of “professionally produced information from media outlets” on Twitter during the 2017 elections — but they also shared a lot of “junk news,” at the expense of content from political parties and the government. Lisa-Maria Neudert, Philip Howard, and Bence Kolanyi analyzed more than four million tweets from three elections and tracked and categorized the 5,158 sources they linked to. The categorization was thoughtfully done. There were five categories: 1) Professional News and Information (including major news brands and legit digitally native sites and startups; tabloids were also included in

Continue reading "Who wants to share government content? In recent European elections, not many people"

Email newsletter platform Substack nabs $15.3 million in funding (and vows it won’t go the way of other VC-funded media companies)


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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The email newsletter platform Substack, which has become home to an increasing number of personal and professional newsletters as creators phase out their use of TinyLetter, announced Tuesday that it’s raised $15.3 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Y Combinator. Since its launch in 2017, Substack has grown: It says it now has 50,000 paying subscribers across all of the newsletters in its network, up from 11,000 a couple of years ago. Creators can choose to make their newsletters free or paid, with Substack taking 10 percent of revenue from paid subs. As of February, Substack also began allowing users to monetize podcasts. As of Tuesday, Bill Bishop’s newsletter Sinocism, which is about China and is $15 a month, was the top paid publication on Substack; others among the paid top 10 include Robert Cottrell’s The Browser
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Continue reading "Email newsletter platform Substack nabs $15.3 million in funding (and vows it won’t go the way of other VC-funded media companies)"

Nearly 7,000 people threatened to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. Here’s what got them to stay.


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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You’re a print newspaper subscriber, and one morning your paper doesn’t show up. You call customer service (how brave of you!) and threaten to cancel. The apologetic customer service rep offers you a discount for the remainder of your subscription, which you accept. But what will you do when that subscription comes up for renewal? According to a new study from Notre Dame and Emory, newspaper subscribers who receive a short-term price adjustment to quell the disappointment of a delivery failure are actually less likely to renew their subscription when the time comes — suggesting that newspapers might want to adjust their tactics for addressing customer complaints. Among the things they can try instead: Renewal discounts, extending or upgrading the subscriber’s existing subscription, and regularly taking the opportunity to remind customers of what the “full” subscription price is. “Discounting the cost of a subscriber’s service may lead subscribers Continue reading "Nearly 7,000 people threatened to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. Here’s what got them to stay."

Nuclear disasters, information vacuums: How a lack of data in Fukushima led to the spread of fake health news


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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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.

“They did not have accurate information about the disease incidence.” Last fall, a city council member in Minamisoma City, Japan circulated a printed leaflet among residents of the community, near where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster happened in 2011. (It was the first nuclear disaster to occur since the internet became widely available.) The pamphlet reported that rates of thyroid cancer and leukemia increased dramatically after the accident. But, researchers from Minimisoma write in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine this month, the data was incorrect. It was created…

…using biased interpretation of health insurance claims data in the Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, a core medical institution in the city. Such data are
Continue reading "Nuclear disasters, information vacuums: How a lack of data in Fukushima led to the spread of fake health news"

Hong Kong protests, but also the Met Gala: The New York Times Chinese edition looks for new audiences


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Amid Hong Kong protests, trade wars, and the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, it’s been a big summer for news about China — but of course it’s not easy for Chinese citizens to see uncensored versions of that news. The news is there, however, for people who can use VPNs to get around the Great Firewall — and one place they can find it is at The New York Times’ Chinese-language edition, which turned seven this summer and was the paper’s first foreign-language edition. (The second was NYT en Español, which launched in 2016.) The site initially launched to attract China’s growing middle class. A few years in, it’s expanding, with an email newsletter, a WeChat account for non-political stories, and side-by-side Chinese/English versions of stories. I spoke with Ching-Ching Ni, editor-in-chief of the Times’ Chinese site and a 2009 Nieman
Continue reading "Hong Kong protests, but also the Met Gala: The New York Times Chinese edition looks for new audiences"

Young adults read the news — but often don’t see themselves reflected in it


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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A Knight Foundation survey of 1,660 18- to 34-year-olds, conducted by the University of Chicago’s NORC, finds that young adults are relatively active consumers of news — 88 percent of them access it at least once a week and 53 percent do so once a day — but they often don’t think that it reflects them. African Americans and Hispanics “say they see inaccuracies and irregularities in the coverage of their racial or ethnic communities,” and they — along with young adults who are white — think they’re often not covered accurately, even by their favorite media sources. Young African Americans and Hispanics are also turning to ethnic media — with those “who say they regularly experience racial discrimination” more likely to seek out such sources than those who don’t say they regularly experience racial discrimination. And young adults rely on their favorite media sources to help make decisions like which political candidates
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Is “news on the internet” the same as “news on your phone”? Here’s how Pew asks


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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When you read stories in The New York Times’ app, does you count that as reading a story online? What about news from Twitter? Is it only “online” news if you’re reading it from a computer? And, come to think of it, are the New York Times stories you read digitally really “online news” at all, or are they newspaper stories? These are the kinds of questions that Pew grapples with when it formulates its surveys about Americans’ online news reading habits. In a Medium post, Pew research associate Elisa Shearer laid out some of the ways that the organization has changed the wording of its questions over the past 20 years (it started asking about online news in the mid-1990s). “The internet is a relatively new source of news for Americans, compared to, say, TV or radio,” she writes. “As a result, it can be hard to design surveys Continue reading "Is “news on the internet” the same as “news on your phone”? Here’s how Pew asks"

Yes, it’s worth arguing with science deniers — and here are some techniques you can use


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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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.

Countering science denialism. Arguing with the anti-vaxxers/flat earthers/climate change deniers may feel futile, but research just published in Nature Human Behaviour suggests that it’s actually worth it and can be effective. Philipp Schmid and Cornelia Betsch of the University of Erfurt in Germany conducted six experiments, online with 1,773 subjects, to see how to “counter arguments of denial at the very moment that they reach an audience, that is, rebutting deniers in public discussions.” These discussions may take place on social media or TV. “Science advocates” have often been reluctant to enter into these discussions at all, worrying they’ll do more harm than good. Here’s what Schmid and Betsch tested, per a write-up of

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TV is still the most common way for Americans to get local news, but fewer people are watching


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Local TV is trusted and is still the preferred method of getting news (thanks mostly to people 50 and up). But viewership for local TV news continues to decline, according to research released by Pew this week. Pew also took a look at cable and network news, and here are some of their findings about 2018 in TV.

Local TV: Audience declines, but a tiny bit more time is spent on news

— Local TV audiences were down for the morning, evening, and late-night time slots. — The amount of local TV news programming actually increased very slightly, from an average of 5.6 hours per day in 2017 to an average of 5.9 hours in 2018, as reported previously by a RTDNA/Hofstra Continue reading "TV is still the most common way for Americans to get local news, but fewer people are watching"

SmartNews has shown it can drive traffic. Can it drive subscriptions too?


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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In recent months, publishers may have been noticing an influx of traffic from a not-usual suspect: SmartNews, the news app that was founded in Japan in 2012 and has been operating in the U.S. since 2014. The company is Parse.ly’s most reliably growing external traffic referrer this year, growing at an average of 8.8 percent per month across the 3,000 sites that Parse.ly tracks. Publishers are happy about this traffic. But whether SmartNews, which now counts 15 million monthly active users globally, can be more than a traffic driver — whether it can actually convert readers into subscribers — is still a question. Unlike semi-competitors like Flipboard, SmartNews doesn’t require or even allow users to login. Everybody who opens the app sees pretty much the same thing: Lists of news stories under the categories “Top,” “Entertain,” “Lifestyle,” “U.S.,” “Politics,” “Sports,” “Biz,” “Tech,” “Science,” Continue reading "SmartNews has shown it can drive traffic. Can it drive subscriptions too?"

“It’s just become daily news”: Six Florida newsrooms are teaming up to cover climate change


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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In Florida, climate change is a local news story. The state’s 21 million residents are already feeling the effects of a heating planet, including not just higher temperatures but more and stronger hurricanes, toxic algae, sunny-day flooding, and sea level rise. And climate change will cost Florida more than any other state — an estimated $76 billion by 2040. “The environment is ever-present here,” said Tom Hudson, vice president of news at WLRN Public Media, the main public radio station for South Florida and the Keys. “It’s not a science story for us here in South Florida. It’s not some kind of theoretical exploration. It’s real. It’s what many in our community experience in their neighborhoods. It’s just become daily news.” Now six Florida news organizations — The Miami Herald, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel, and WLRN Continue reading "“It’s just become daily news”: Six Florida newsrooms are teaming up to cover climate change"

As of December, publishers will no longer be allowed to send out newsletters on WhatsApp


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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In an effort to crack down on “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use” on the platform, WhatsApp will no longer allow publishers to send out newsletters through the app as of December 7, 2019. WhatsApp banned bulk message forwarding earlier this year in an effort to cut down on the spread of misinformation on the platform. Newsletters had been a gray area on WhatsApp, and news publishers that were sending them out had known that the platform could put an end to them at some point. While the change applies globally, it seems to be attracting particular attention in Germany. IJNet Continue reading "As of December, publishers will no longer be allowed to send out newsletters on WhatsApp"

“First-generation fact-checking” is no longer good enough. Here’s what comes next


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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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.

“Fact checkers need to move from ‘publish and pray’ to ‘publish and act.'” “The idea that fact checking can work by correcting the public’s inaccurate beliefs on a mass scale alone doesn’t stack up,” write representatives from Full Fact (U.K.), Africa Check (Africa), and Chequeado (Argentina), in a manifesto of sorts published Thursday to all three sites. “First-generation fact-checking” — the approach of simply publishing fact-checks, which sites like FactCheck.org do — is a worthy effort, the authors write, but it isn’t enough if you actually want to change people’s minds. “Nobody should be surprised when, despite fact checkers publishing lots of fact checks, people still believe inaccurate things and politicians Continue reading "“First-generation fact-checking” is no longer good enough. Here’s what comes next"

What will Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, mean for news?


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Facebook is pitching its new cryptocurrency, Libra — which will be officially launched in 2020 — as a way for the world’s unbanked to save, send, and spend money. To some, it’s also a massive power grab by an already immensely powerful company (and a bunch of other powerful companies — Libra’s 27 initial partners include Visa, Mastercard, Uber, Lyft, and Paypal, among others) and a potential privacy nightmare. But what might it mean for payments for news? Of Libra’s 27 initial partners, only one — Spotify — is a media company, although the list also includes VCs like Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures which have invested in media companies. “Facebook hopes its Continue reading "What will Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, mean for news?"

The Atlantic introduces a “daily idea” for smart speakers


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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The Atlantic is launching a new skill for Amazon Echo and Google Home: A “single, illuminating idea” every weekday. From the release:
Every weekday, when people ask their smart speakers to play The Atlantic’s Daily Idea, they’ll hear a condensed, one-to two-minute read of an Atlantic story, be it “An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language” or “The Case for Locking Up Your Smartphone.” The skill will include reporting from across The Atlantic’s science, tech, health, family, and education sections, as well as the magazine’s archives, representing the work of dozens of writers.
The Atlantic’s briefing joins a number of other offerings from publishers. But while ownership of the devices is increasing — an estimated 65 million U.S. adults, around 23 percent of the population over 12, own one; 12 percent of U.S. adults said they used one in the past
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As the Christchurch massacre trial begins, New Zealand news orgs vow to keep white supremacist ideology out of their coverage


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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As the trial of the man accused of the Christchurch mosque massacres began a few hours ago, New Zealand’s major media organizations had a plan. They will refuse to run coverage in which the accused and his supporters champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology. They won’t cover, broadcast, or print messages, “imagery, symbols, or signals (including hand signals)” made by the accused or his supporters during the trial. They also won’t cover the shooter’s manifesto, a document that made its way around the Internet following the March shooting in which 51 people were killed and which has since been banned in New Zealand. The shooter, who livestreamed the massacre on Facebook, faces 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder, and one terrorism charge. (In a move some found surprising, he pled not guilty to all charges today, which means a lengthy trial is now set to begin in
Continue reading "As the Christchurch massacre trial begins, New Zealand news orgs vow to keep white supremacist ideology out of their coverage"

Populists prefer television to online news — but are sticking to Facebook as others leave


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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“Populists prefer to use television news,” and they’re also spending more time on Facebook. This week, Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released its annual Digital News Report, a good chunk of which focuses on partisan news, fake news, and trust in the media. (We covered the highlights from the rest of the report here.) Some interesting findings: — People are worried about fake news (no surprise) and claim they are switching to “more reputable” sources. (Note: “The interpretation of ‘reputable,’ ‘less accurate,’ ‘dubious,’ and other subjective terms were left
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Even people who like paying for news usually only pay for one subscription


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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Publishers worldwide are installing paywalls, but many — even most — won’t succeed. Private WhatsApp groups are becoming the default for sharing and discussing news in non-Western countries. Trust in the media is down worldwide. And more people say they avoid the news now than did in 2016, with a particularly large increase in news avoidance in the UK. These are some of the findings from a big new report out Tuesday evening from Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report for 2019 surveyed more than 75,000 people in 38 countries about their digital news consumption. (Included in the report for the first time this year: South Africa.) The research is based on YouGov surveys conducted earlier this year, followed by in-person interviews with young people in the U.S. and UK. The report includes a number of findings on fake news, misinformation,
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ProPublica’s Facebook-monitoring political ad tool (which Facebook fought) is alive again with a new home at the Globe and Mail


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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The Globe and Mail is the new home to the Facebook Political Ad Collector, a browser extension that ProPublica built and released in 2017. As Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson — names that are familiar to you if you’ve been following The Markup … thing — wrote at the time:
The tool is a small piece of software that users can add to their web browser (Chrome). When users log into Facebook, the tool will collect the ads displayed on the user’s news feed and guess which ones are political based on an algorithm built by ProPublica. One benefit for interested users is that the tool will show them Facebook political ads that weren’t aimed at their demographic group, and that they wouldn’t ordinarily see.
ProPublica used to the tool to supplement reporting around the German federal elections and the U.S. midterms. Facebook didn’t like the tool, urged ProPublica
Continue reading "ProPublica’s Facebook-monitoring political ad tool (which Facebook fought) is alive again with a new home at the Globe and Mail"