Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 215, published June 25, 2019.
This piece’s roots can be traced back to summer 2016, when the Indiana public radio station WBAA announced that, as a response to the show’s exclusive then-new streaming partnership with Pandora, it would no longer carry This American Life on its airwaves.
The station argued that TAL’s distribution partnership threatened to undermine public radio’s broadcast model. That threat was driven by Pandora’s profit-seeking disposition, its scale, and most importantly, its disruptive structure as a digital distributor that goes around terrestrial stations like WBAA and directly to audiences.
WBAA would later reverse its decision, citing “considerable listener feedback,” and TAL continues to stream exclusively over Pandora to this day. (Which also means, by the way, that you can’t listen to the show on podcast-expansionary Spotify. Though, interestingly, you can find a genre in
It can be hard to tell whether a picture is real. Consider, as the participants in our recent research did, these two images and see whether you think neither, either, or both of them has been doctored.
You might have based your assessment of the images on the visual information alone. Or perhaps you factored in your evaluation of how reputable the source is, or the number of people who liked and shared the images.
My collaborators and I recently studied how people evaluate the credibility of images that accompany online stories and what elements figure into that evaluation. We found that you’re far less likely to fall for fake images if you’re more experienced with the internet, digital photography, and online media platforms — if you have what scholars call “digital media literacy.”
Ever fall into this trap? (1) You hit a news site’s paywall; (2) being a sneak, you open up the web page in an incognito browser window to get around it; but (3) the news site can tell you’re in incognito mode, figures you’re up to no good, and blocks the story you’re trying to read.
Well, (3) is about to go away in the web’s most popular browser; the countdown to your sweet release is on. (Or, you know, you could subscribe.)
The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The Dallas Morning News — among others — all employ some version of such an incognito catcher. The next version of Google Chrome, due out on July 30, will stop them, rendering their metered paywalls significantly leakier.
(In other news: Publishers, apply now for some Google News Initiative dollars! Google’s looking for “creative
Quartz Brief, the truly original mobile news app built around a chat interface and bots pre-fed with human prose, will die July 1, Digiday has reported. It was 3 years old.
It is survived by a different app that last year took its predecessor’s name — just plain ol’ Quartz — and a lengthy list of laudatory tweets from media people like me.
When the Quartz app debuted in 2016, it was immediately clear that it would be a big step away from the news app mainstream. No list of headlines here; a first-time user saw what looked like a chat interface, familiar from whatever app they use to trade barbs with friends, and a sort of textual uncanny valley: Am I talking with a bot? A person? A news organization?
The answer was a combination of all three. In real time, the app’s prose was being
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"
Who said there’s no money in journalism? Sure, maybe the old ad model is decaying, and maybe hundreds of newspapers are on death watch — but the work-chat app Slack has been able to build a multi-billion-dollar business at least in some tiny part based on its remarkable uptake in newsrooms around the world.
Slack becomes a publicly traded company today — through a DPO (direct public offering) rather than an IPO (initial public offering), a screw-the-banks, help-our-current-employees-and-backers move that fits well with the early-web vibes the company has given off since launch. (CEO Stewart Butterfield previously co-founded Flickr; after Yahoo acquired it, he left that company with one of history’s most entertaining resignation letters. For me, he and other Slack folk like Cal Henderson and Matt Haughey have always evoked a kinder, gentler version of the Internet from the late 1990s and early 2000s, and I think
When some people start reporting a story, they start by googling the topic. I start by searching it in the Nieman Lab archives. Sometimes you find a plot twist.
Pico came on my radar with some emails from the cofounder, Jason Bade, and the news that the Lenfest Institute was providing the startup with $50,000 to test marketing experiments for publishers. As a CRM for media companies, Pico is trying to fill the tech needs that publishers have in building relationships with reader revenue (and the readers behind it, of course). It also recently raised $4.5 million from Stripe, Axel Springer, and others.
The only — until I hit publish on this [ahem, you mean “my editor” —Ed.] — piece mentioning Pico on our website includes this bit, a not particularly auspicious debut:
When Twitter wants to announce a change in how it does things, how should they announce it? With a tweet, naturally: Twitter is removing the ability of its users to geotag their tweets.
Most people don't tag their precise location in Tweets, so we're removing this ability to simplify your Tweeting experience. You'll still be able to tag your precise location in Tweets through our updated camera. It's helpful when sharing on-the-ground moments.
Synopsis, soundtrack, episode, mood: This is the language used daily within the Parisian offices of the French news site Les Jours. But don’t let its vocabulary fool you: While the three-year-old media company borrows many of the codes of screenplays and visual fiction, it actually runs a hard-hitting investigative news site.
The shared lingo is no coincidence. When the co-founders of Les Jours were secretly planning their departure from Libération — the French daily where eight of the nine of them used to work — with the intention of creating a news site devoted to deep reporting, they approached not only fellow journalists for advice, but screenwriters too. The reason was simple: Their big idea was to serialize the news, breaking stories down into nail-biting episode after nail-biting episode that would make long-form investigative journalism more accessible, and more exciting, to readers.
“The founding principle is
Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 214, published June 18, 2019.
Mary Meeker presented the 2019 edition of her Internet Trends report at the Code Conference last week, and podcasting pops up for a slide, grouped together with smart speakers as part of the broader voice trend.
You can find the whole deck here. I’d recommend checking out the Nieman Lab and Recode writeups. Turns out American adults spend a daily average of around six hours on digital media these days. My burnt-out eyes, I would never have known.
Speaking of Vox: Vox Media has ratified its first collective bargaining agreement with the Writer’s Guild of America, East. You can view the (rather impressive!) terms here. I imagine this development has some ramifications for the process at Gimlet Media (brought to you by Spotify), which is also organizing through WGA East.
The modern digitally connected human (Homo smartphonicus, identifiable by its trademark slumped shoulders and bleary eyes) has access to more news and information than any other human in history, whenever they want it, most of it free, all of it in their pocket.
But it’s not only news that they have more access to — it’s everything, from Clash of Clans to Keanu memes to old friends’ photos to Ariana Grande songs to TikTok. Those things, if administered correctly, serve as entertainment and tend to make their consumers happy. News, you may have noticed, isn’t that great at generating happiness these days. So lots of people are happy to stick to Keanu and avoid Trump/Iran/Putin/climate change/mass shootings/Brexit/racism entirely.
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
“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.
People worry about online fakery, and over 1/4 say they've started relying on more reputable sources as a result (plus another 1/4 saying they've stopped using dubious sources). While this will help some publishers, often low trust in news underlines it will not help everyone 5/7 pic.twitter.com/W9HKFL9fP7
Much as robots have transformed entire swaths of the manufacturing economy, artificial intelligence and automation are now changing information work, letting humans offload cognitive labor to computers. In journalism, for instance, data mining systems alert reporters to potential news stories, while newsbots offer new ways for audiences to explore information. Automated writing systems generate financial, sports and elections coverage.
A common question as these intelligent technologies infiltrate various industries is how work and labor will be affected. In this case, who — or what — will do journalism in this AI-enhanced and automated world, and how will they do it?
The evidence I’ve assembled in my new book Automating the New: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Media suggests that the future of AI-enabled journalism will still have plenty of people around. However, the jobs, roles, and tasks of those people will evolve and look a bit different. Human work