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NewsFeed - Media

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In Tajikistan, America’s beacon for a free press may have been corrupted

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a network of radio stations funded by the US government to counter misinformation abroad, pledges to provide “fair and objective news, analysis, and discussion.” It was described last month in this magazine as “Washington’s open, public way to compete with Russian state-controlled media and disinformation.” But it may actually be helping […]
Posted: April 17, 2019, 8:38 pm

World Press Photo disinvites photographer to industry awards

The World Press Photo Foundation disinvited an award-winning photographer from its annual awards ceremony Thursday following allegations of “inappropriate behavior,” according to the foundation. This is the first time in the organization’s six-decade-long history that it has done so. Andrew Quilty’s photographs of the aftermath of a bombing in Kabul, some of which ran in […]
Posted: April 17, 2019, 6:01 pm

With corgis, chickens, and kitchen reveals, the NYT Cooking Community Facebook group is a “happy corner of the internet”

Food Instagram can be delicious and inspiring, but it’s also a little in-your-face. Sometimes a person has had enough of the Instagram flat lay food photography and 😍 and 😋 and 🔥. Sometimes a person would like to go to a slightly calmer and homier corner of the food internet, where there are more dogs...
Posted: April 17, 2019, 3:51 pm

HuffPost is the latest digital media company to give membership a shot

Why is another digital news organization starting a membership program? Ad revenue is unsteady or declining across the industry, and media companies of all stripes are trying to figure out where their next revenue stream is going to come from. And if it can build up loyal reader revenue as independent income, membership might help...
Posted: April 17, 2019, 3:44 pm

Is it okay for a journalist to block a critic — not a troll, just a critic — on Twitter?

Blocking and muting on Twitter are common ways for users to deal with the less pleasant elements of the medium: trolls who attack, Nazis who incite, misinformation peddlers, and garden-variety jerks. And that’s certainly true of journalists, who come under far more abuse than the media Twitter user. But is blocking someone who is a...
Posted: April 17, 2019, 3:34 pm

A cognitive scientist explains why humans are so susceptible to fake news and misinformation

How fake news gets into our minds, and what you can do to resist it Although the term itself is not new, fake news presents a growing threat for societies across the world. Only a small amount of fake news is needed to disrupt a conversation, and at extremes it can have an impact on...
Posted: April 17, 2019, 2:10 pm

Reporters prepare to speedread the Mueller report

The Mueller report will be delivered to Congress and the public tomorrow. That’s about all we know for sure. Reporters covering the special counsel’s recently wrapped probe don’t know what the document will say. (How much will be redacted? How much of what’s left will be new information?) Nor are they sure of the exact format—so far, all we really have to go on is Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that redactions will be color-coded, and the suggestion, made by anonymous disgruntled Mueller investigators, that some sort of executive summary(ies) exist(s). Uncertainty is nothing new on the Mueller beat. Nonetheless, receiving, digesting, analyzing, and communicating 400 as-yet-mysterious pages—in real time—will pose a steep challenge for the press.

According to Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo, reporters at least have their key questions lined up ahead of time. How accurate was the brief summary that Barr already made public? How, exactly, did Mueller reach the conclusion that he couldn’t reach a conclusion on obstruction? Will the report expose any new sources of information on the president? Quickly finding answers will be a bigger challenge. As Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn puts it, “the tribes of American politics” will also be rushing to find their truth tomorrow. Administration officials and their Democratic opponents in Congress will be vying to stick their preferred narrative in the public consciousness first. On the sidelines, the Mueller-industrial-complex of armchair commentators, academics, and prosecutors-turned-pundits will only add to the noise (some more usefully than others).

ICYMI: Checking in with the Macedonian fake news strategist

In the past week, several astute observers have stressed that journalists should not take shortcuts with the report. The press, Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write, rushed to the wrong conclusions when Barr delivered his initial summary to Congress last month. The summary was four pages; Mueller’s full report is 100 times longer. To make the most of tomorrow’s “do-over,” Jurecic and Wittes say reporters should embrace the complexity of what the report actually says, and not hype short summaries of prosecutorial judgments and the political reaction to them. “The decision not to prosecute a person for some alleged conduct is not a historical judgment that the conduct didn’t happen,” they write; Congress and the public still get to decide if the facts Mueller lays out about Trump are sufficiently damning as to require further action or reporting. Finding all those facts will take time. “You won’t fully understand what you’re looking at until reading the whole thing a first time,” Marcy Wheeler, a prominent national-security blogger, writes. “So after you read it the first time, read it again.”

In addition to reading everything the report says, it’s crucial that journalists also assess what it doesn’t say. “It is not supposed to be, contrary to many claims, a report on everything that Mueller discovered,” Wheeler writes. It is eminently possible that Mueller did not include all of his findings; those he did include, meanwhile, have been subjected to potentially invasive redactions by the Justice Department. Reporters should not assume the untouched report is comprehensive, but should apply detailed scrutiny to whatever redactions Barr makes, and not take his legalese at face value. As The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin wrote recently, Barr—who, lest we forget, has expressed a broad view of executive power on more than one occasion—has significant discretion over what gets left out. He could, hypothetically, have petitioned a court to allow the publication of grand-jury testimony.

While reporters get into the weeds, the outlets they work for have an important counter-responsibility: to keep the findings in perspective. Whatever the report says, it won’t be a satisfying end to the Mueller story. It’s likely to generate “exactly the kind of epistemological confusion this administration generates and coasts on,” as Slate’s Lili Loofbourow puts it; even if it’s damning, “we’ll always want more.” Donald Trump’s policies have a clearer real-world cost: in the past week alone, the ban on transgender troops took effect, Trump vetoed Congressional attempts to halt US support for the war in Yemen, and Barr issued an order that could keep thousands of asylum seekers in jail indefinitely. We shouldn’t let the Mueller report obscure all that.

Below, more on Trump and the impending Mueller report:

  • DNA info: The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan writes that the release of the report will be a minefield for the press. “The DNA of news is to find a coherent story with a single, clear headline,” George Washington University’s Frank Sesno tells Sullivan. “This is a case where the media will have to fight their own DNA.”
  • The emperor’s clothes department: Loofbourow’s piece for Slate is worth reading in full. “We fixate on secrets because secrets are how government malpractice has been accounted for in the past,” she writes. But “Trump’s wrongdoing is not private… Even the full unredacted report will probably do little but confirm much that we already know. Dealing with Trump means dealing with that fact—seeking an exposé is kind of a weird response to an emperor with no clothes.”
  • Subplots: Need a Mueller refresher ahead of tomorrow’s release? Politico’s Samuelsohn, Josh Gerstein, Cory Bennett, and Kyle Cheney wrap up the “25 subplots to watch in the Mueller investigation.”
  • The royal “we”?: Waiting, with the rest of us, is the president, who hasn’t seen the Mueller report either. In the meantime, the Times’s Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman write, “Trump is filling his idle moments—and blowing off any anticipatory steam—by turning to a familiar pastime: television.” Yesterday, Trump weighed in on Fox News’s decision to invite Bernie Sanders for a town hall, alleging that Trump supporters were shut out. In one tweet, Trump appeared to refer to Fox as “we.” Twitter noticed.

Other notable stories:

  • Wired’s Nicholas Thompson and Ken Vogelstein are out with a 12,000-word look at “15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook.” Among the nuggets to emerge: some Facebook executives “considered it a small plus that the news industry was feeling a little pain”—from reduced traffic to news content from the platform—“after all its negative coverage.” At NBC News, meanwhile, Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar obtained 4,000 pages of documents from inside the company. The trove exposes Mark Zuckerberg’s moves “to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data.”
  • Top officials in the European Union aren’t happy with Facebook, either. As of this week, the platform requires political advertisers on the continent to register in the country where they wish to make an ad buy. The rules, which have already taken effect in the US, bid to limit foreign election interference—but EU leaders say they will hobble legitimate cross-border campaigns ahead of next month’s elections to the European Parliament. Politico’s Laura Kayali and Maïa de La Baume have the details.
  • Earlier this week, The Washington Post editorial board opposed a bill—introduced by a local lawmaker in Washington, DC—that would extend existing transparency laws to cover publicly funded charter schools. CJR’s Alexandria Neason takes issue with that stance. “For a journalistic entity—opinion section or otherwise—to advocate against a measure that seeks to increase transparency is backwards,” she writes. “The editorial board’s stance echoes the arguments of charter school operators, instead of supporting a measure that would improve access to information about taxpayer-funded entities.”
  • Two updates from the Committee to Protect Journalists: Amid a period of political upheaval, officials in Algeria expelled Aymeric Vincenot, AFP’s Algiers bureau chief, after refusing to renew his press and residency permits. And in Nepal, authorities detained Arjun Giri, editor of Tandav News, under that country’s cybercrime laws after he published an article alleging fraud by a local businessman.
  • Vox Media is buying Epic Magazine, the publisher and producer that acts as a pipeline for magazine articles to become films and TV shows. The acquisition will “boost [Vox Media’s] video storytelling capabilities and give it a stronger foothold in Hollywood,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Natalie Jarvey reports.
  • In divergent digital-revenue news, The Information, which has a famously high-priced paywall, may experiment with advertising, while HuffPost, which is free, is launching a membership program offering paid content and perks.
  • James Murdoch—newly adrift of his family’s business—could further distance himself from his father’s conservative media empire by investing in a liberal news outlet, the Financial Times reports. (Another bet? Comic books, according to The Wall Street Journal.) Meanwhile, in Australia, Robert Thomson, one of Rupert Murdoch’s top lieutenants, slammed The New York Times’s unflattering recent story about the Murdochs, calling it a “rancid hatchet job” driven by “corporate self-interest.”
  • Flying British Airways soon? You’ll have to bring your own copy of the FT. The airline has stopped offering the paper to passengers in an apparent backlash against negative coverage. Press Gazette’s James Walker has more.

ICYMI: The unsolved assassination of a journalist

Posted: April 17, 2019, 11:45 am

Life-saving opioid addiction treatments get a negative slant

Researchers analyzing media coverage of medications that treat opioid addiction find inaccurate and negatively slanted coverage, especially in states with high mortality rates for overdose. When the nation’s health is in peril, journalists play a vital role as reliable communicators of life-saving information. But when it comes to covering a public health emergency as complex […]
Posted: April 17, 2019, 10:55 am

An anti-transparency editorial in The Washington Post

Last month, Charles Allen, a member of the Washington, DC Council, introduced the Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019, which would extend the same sunshine laws applied to traditional public schools to publicly funded charter schools. The proposal came on the heels of suggested reforms put forth by the DC Public Charter School Board. […]
Posted: April 16, 2019, 6:13 pm

Could those information boxes under YouTube conspiracy videos add legitimacy instead of reduce it?

Yesterday, I wrote about YouTube’s algorithmic screwup which somehow associated images of Notre-Dame Cathedral burning with the 9/11 attacks and embedded information about those attacks under news organizations’ live streams from Paris. And in that piece, I noted a number of other times YouTube’s algorithm — which is meant to put reliable information under conspiracy...
Posted: April 16, 2019, 3:38 pm

Is Mailchimp ready to dive back into podcasts in a big way?

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 204, published April 16, 2019. Vox Media acquires Epic. This one came in overnight: For the uninitiated, Epic is the…I guess they call themselves a “content studio,” but it’s more specifically a firm that sources and produces longform stories that can eventually be spun...
Posted: April 16, 2019, 2:52 pm

The world reflects as Notre-Dame burns

Yesterday evening, Paris time, Notre-Dame cathedral caught fire. As it burned, photos and video—of billowing smoke; of flames raging in the cross-shaped interior; of the spire leaning slowly, then tumbling away—held global attention. French media were never far from someone weeping. “Pardon me… I am just so shaken,” one caller cried on Radio France. “It’s a treasure, a national treasure that has gone up in flames,” said another, through sobs. The late edition of Le Parisien, echoing the poignant religious symbolism of so much coverage, led with the headline Notre-Dame des larmes: Our lady of tears.

In the US, the story was everywhere. The networks quickly corralled their correspondents (disrupting at least one vacation in the process). As news reporters kept us abreast of firefighters’ battle to save the cathedral’s structure, magazines published more personal reflections. In The New Yorker, Lauren Collins recalled a recent visit to Notre-Dame’s roof, where she had checked in on renovation work. “Tonight,” she wrote, “I realized that we may have been some of the last people to stand there.” For The Atlantic, Rachel Donadio watched amid a crowd as a building that had “survived eight centuries of plague, war, revolution, and the Nazis” started to fall. “Messages come in from friends around the world—‘Are you okay?’—as if this were another terrorist attack, or a death in the family,” she wrote. “In a way, it is a death. In the human family. We are all shocked together.”

ICYMI: Journalism in Rwanda, 25 years after the genocide

In many corners of social media, the atmosphere was funereal. Even people who could see the fire with their own eyes viewed it through their phones. They were “trying to capture in a few pixels what had stood for centuries,” wrote Donadio, who encapsulated the cathedral’s lifespan: “Built in the Gothic era, destroyed in the social-media era.”

Because this is the social-media era, misinformation about the fire spread quickly. BuzzFeed’s Jane Lytvynenko rounded up hoaxsters’ claims that Emmanuel Macron/Michelle Obama/“Muslims”/terrorists set the fire deliberately. (While the actual cause has yet to be established, French officials say there’s no evidence of arson, and suspect an accident.) The platforms, once again, attracted criticism. Matt Dornic, an executive at CNN, said Twitter refused to remove a fake CNN account because it had the word “parody” in its bio. (The account was later suspended.) YouTube, for its part, flagged several major outlets’ livestreams of the fire as misinformation, then, for some reason, linked out to explainer content about 9/11.

For the most part, who or what might be to blame seemed a secondary concern. People around the world led with their tributes, their reflections, and their grief. As Michael Kimmelman observed in The New York Times, no one had died. The global reaction, nonetheless, was overwhelming. Was it because Notre-Dame has been such a focal point of Western culture, both religious and secular? Was it something peculiar to Paris, which has always tugged on our heartstrings? Was it the abundance of shocking visuals, served to us everywhere we looked? Did we see a metaphor—in our troubled times—for lost permanence, lost steadfastness, lost beauty? What, exactly, did it stir in us? Admittedly, it’s easier to pose questions than answers.

Whatever the reason, an angry world and much of its media stopped, for a few hours, at least, to watch a tragedy and to try to process it. We weren’t silent—far from it. But the tenor of the coverage was a break from the incessant thunder to which we have become accustomed. Briefly, something old and beautiful commanded our attention, and our contemplation.

Below, more on Notre-Dame:

  • The latest: According to French authorities, the structure of the cathedral is still “sound” and major paintings from inside have survived largely intact. Last night, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, vowed that Notre-Dame would be rebuilt, and promised that a national fund would be launched today for that purpose. (Hundreds of millions of euros have already been pledged). For the latest updates, follow The Guardian, in English, or Le Monde, in French.
  • View from the inside: Philippe Wojazer, a photographer with Reuters, was one of the first journalists to get images from inside the burned cathedral. He shared his striking photos on Instagram.
  • “An impromptu memorial service”: Vanity Fair’s Erin Vanderhoof writes that Twitter was both a breaking-news resource and an “impromptu memorial service” yesterday. “In the face of an unfathomable, historic loss, Twitter became a place to mourn, to squabble about the right way to mourn, and to then hit ‘play’ on the video of the spire collapsing and mourn again.”
  • “A different kind of catastrophe”: For the Times, Kimmelman reflects on the symbolism of Notre-Dame and the fire. “This fire is not like other recent calamities,” he writes. “Notre-Dame, where no one died, represents a different kind of catastrophe, no less traumatic but more to do with beauty and spirit and symbolism.”

Other notable stories:

  • The 2019 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded yesterday. It was a big day for local outlets: the South Florida Sun Sentinel won the coveted public service prize for its reporting on the Parkland school shooting, while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was honored in the breaking news category for its coverage of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre. (As CJR’s Andrew McCormick wrote, the awards reflected a violent year for journalists.) The LA Times and Baton Rouge Advocate also picked up prizes, as did The New York Times and Wall Street Journal for deep investigations into Trumpworld, and Reuters, whose journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were honored for the reporting that put them in jail in Myanmar. The full list of winners is here.
  • The Justice Department confirmed that the Mueller report will be delivered to Congress and the public on Thursday—once lawyers have finished redacting it. (We were originally promised it by today.) “This release comes right before Easter and Passover, and coincides with one of the longest recesses on Capitol Hill,” Politico’s Playbook team noted. “No matter what the report says, that DC will be empty is a bit of a boon to the president and his team.” Also for Politico, Darren Samuelsohn previews the tactics different readers might use to digest the report, which runs to nearly 400 pages.
  • Over the weekend, Twitter took down several tweets linking to a news article about pirated content. The TV network Starz had complained that the article included screenshots of copyrighted material and “information about [its] illegal availability.” Given “fair use” provisions in US copyright law, the complaint looked like overreach. CJR’s Mathew Ingram was among those whose tweets were targeted. “Twitter seems to act incredibly quickly whenever there is a copyright claim, but it is considerably more circumspect in responding to complaints about offensive or harassing speech,” he writes.
  • Bernie Sanders went on Fox News last night, sparring with hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum during a town-hall event in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Politico’s Holly Otterbein writes that Sanders “emerged triumphant” from the broadcast. “In the days preceding the event, Sanders faced backlash from liberals who said he shouldn’t participate… But when it was over, Sanders had received an hour of positive exposure on the highest-rated cable channel—something none of his primary rivals have yet risked.”
  • In February, Vice launched Vice Live, a flagship new nightly news show. According to The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani, the program has already been canceled. (The company said it would be “breaking out” some of the show’s “most popular talent and formats.”) During its brief run, Vice Live struggled for ratings and with offscreen tensions.
  • Editorial staff at Quartz are unionizing with the NewsGuild of New York. In a statement, the Quartz Union said Uzabase—which bought Quartz from Atlantic Media last year—“seems committed to our core goals,” but that “their plans for Quartz’s editorial operation remain unclear, and with layoffs taking place in droves across the industry, our future feels uncertain.” For our Spring/Summer 2018 print issue, Anna Heyward assessed the wave of unionization efforts sweeping digital newsrooms.
  • For CJR, Igor Bosilkovski checks in with Mirko Ceselkoski, the “Macedonian fake news strategist” whose former students attracted international attention when they churned out junk content ahead of the US presidential election in 2016. “For now, Ceselkoski says that the majority of his business comes not from politicians, but from his work with US trucking companies… ‘There are no surprises here, everything is legal.’”
  • In an essay for ABC News, Elizabeth Thomas, a graduate journalism student at Georgetown University, reflects on going to study at the institution that enslaved two of her ancestors. Recently, students at Georgetown voted to start a fund for descendants of the university’s slaves, to be paid for by a slight increase in tuition. The university has yet to approve the measure.
  • And James Murdoch, son of Rupert, maxed out his campaign donation to Pete Buttigieg, whose longshot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination has gathered momentum in recent weeks. Despite the hardened conservative politics of much of his family’s news empire, James Murdoch describes himself as a centrist.

ICYMI: Pete Buttigieg is flavor of the month

Posted: April 16, 2019, 12:01 pm

Checking in with the Macedonian fake news strategist

About a month ago, a friend who works as the social media expert for a sports brand told me about an online Facebook marketing course he wanted to sign up for. He had just met with the course creator, was in awe of his understanding of the platform, and spoke of the success and money […]
Posted: April 16, 2019, 10:55 am

Pulitzer Prizes reflect a violent year for journalists

The first piece of journalism that Dana Canedy, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, mentioned during Monday afternoon’s announcement of the 2019 prizes was one that did not win: a series of obituaries, by the staff of The Eagle Eye student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “These budding journalists remind us of the media’s […]
Posted: April 15, 2019, 10:20 pm

Twitter deletes links to news story due to bogus copyright claims

Have you ever had something you posted mysteriously disappear from the internet? It’s a bizarre experience, especially when it’s a result of an overreaching copyright claim. That’s what happened to me this weekend, after I posted a link on Twitter to an interesting (and disturbing) news story at TorrentFreak, a site that writes about copyright […]
Posted: April 15, 2019, 8:06 pm

As Notre Dame burned, an algorithmic error at YouTube put information about 9/11 under news videos

It’s terrible news for anyone who values history, loves Paris, or read Victor Hugo: Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Gothic gem at the historic center of Paris, is on fire. It’s obviously far too early for anything conclusive, but early suggestions from officials are that the blaze could be related the ongoing renovations to the roof. There’s...
Posted: April 15, 2019, 7:13 pm

Covering 2020: Taking on Twitter, Panera parking lots instead of diner tropes, and more ways newsroom leaders are planning ahead

The business model is still a problem. Misinformation is still a problem. Media manipulation is still a problem. But 250 reporters gathered (at Google’s Chicago office, no less) to talk about how to improve the journalism that they’re doing on a regular basis on the campaign trail — what they can control, as Marty Baron...
Posted: April 15, 2019, 5:09 pm

Latter-day Saints move to remove ‘Mormon’ from lexicon

For the past two weeks, we have been highlighting major changes in Associated Press style, as announced at the annual conference of ACES: The Society for Editing. This last roundup will include some smaller changes that might still have big impacts. The first concerns the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No longer should […]
Posted: April 15, 2019, 3:29 pm

What will journalism do with 5G’s speed and capacity? Here are some ideas, from The New York Times and elsewhere

If there’s one thing you can count on in modern life, one truism that will never let you down, it is this: You want more Gs. That’s true in the thousands-of-dollars sense, and it’s definitely true in the better-mobile-networks sense. And from a media perspective, better networks tend to produce, or at least emphasize, different...
Posted: April 15, 2019, 2:40 pm

Courting future business models: Are public media and scrappy startups the next trend for mergers?

In these potential pre-recession days, everyone is watching consolidations and combinations (and private equity purchases). But what about mergers — between public media and spry startups that keep the teams intact and the mission of impactful journalism alive? Colorado Public Radio’s scooping up Denverite from the promising Spirited Media flashed extra bright on much of...
Posted: April 15, 2019, 10:00 am

Experience experiments: What Whereby.Us’s membership model looks like after adding a Spirited Media site

After Spirited Media announced it was throwing in the towel on content and pivoting to consulting, some eyes shifted to the other startup network of lit-to-be-local sites. But instead of sticking to its plan, Whereby.Us, founded around the same time as Spirited and existing in four cities, ended up taking in one of Spirited’s almost-orphaned...
Posted: April 11, 2019, 4:25 pm

Is Julian Assange’s arrest a threat to press freedom or an appropriate response to hacking?

One of the stranger parts of rewatching Page One, the 2011 documentary about media reporting at The New York Times, is the presence of Julian Assange, who was at that time in his earlier days of leaking classified or otherwise secret information — initially via open platforms like YouTube, later in partnership with some of...
Posted: April 11, 2019, 3:56 pm

The world is on fire, and that makes for good #brand #synergy between a fashion brand and The New York Times

The conventional wisdom has long been that advertisers aren’t keen to pitch their wares next to hard news, huge catastrophes, or anything else that could make a target consumer bummed about the state of humanity when they should be contemplating the New! Shaving! Revolution! that Unilever now has the privilege of bringing you. As CNN’s...
Posted: April 10, 2019, 5:20 pm

When local newspapers shrink, fewer people bother to run for mayor

What do strong local newspapers do? Well, past research has shown they increase voter turnout, reduce government corruption, make cities financially healthier, make citizens more knowledgable about politics and more likely to engage with local government, force local TV to raise its game, encourage split-ticket (and thus less uniformly partisan) voting, make elected officials more...
Posted: April 9, 2019, 7:30 pm

Asking Alexa for news no longer has to stop with the latest headlines

Hey, owners of an Amazon Echo! (Or hell, owners of that voice-controlled Amazon microwave!) Ever ask Alexa for some news? If you do, it plays the latest headlines from whatever news organizations you’ve set up in your Flash Briefing. But then…the headlines will stop. Time will pass. You will stand in your kitchen, alone with...
Posted: April 9, 2019, 7:25 pm

We’ll finally get to see what Luminary, the paywalled podcast(ish?) app, has been cooking

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 203, published April 9, 2019. Luminary to launch at the end of the month. The paid audio content app, which has raised $100 million in venture capital pre-launch, announced last week that it will officially roll out to the public on April 23. This...
Posted: April 9, 2019, 3:35 pm

Goodbye “moderators,” hello “audience voice reporters”: Here’s how The Wall Street Journal is refocusing the comments to incentivize better behavior

Our readers this week will see a lot of changes built around the goal of elevating the quality of community discourse on It’s a project we’ve been working on for months, starting with rigorous research and ending with a strategy to foster healthy conversations around our coverage. First, a few of the changes: Audience...
Posted: April 9, 2019, 12:13 pm

What kind of local news is Facebook featuring on Today In? Crime, car crashes, and not too much community

Facebook really wants to put quality local news in front of its users, it says, through its “Today In” feature — but the local news just doesn’t exist! “About one in three users in the U.S. live in places where we cannot find enough local news on Facebook to launch Today In,” product marketing manager...
Posted: April 8, 2019, 5:48 pm

Gizmodo Media Group is sold to a private equity firm, and Univision is out of the English-language website business

It seems depressingly predestined, or at least depressingly 2019: One of the web’s original publishing upstarts — a controversial but highly influential company that brought bloggy energy to digital media, valued not long ago at a quarter-billion dollars — is now in the hands of a private equity firm that bought it for the spare...
Posted: April 8, 2019, 5:28 pm

“Terrorists use the internet in much the same way as other people.” How should tech companies deal with it?

How should tech companies regulate terrorist content? Brian Fishman, the policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, published a paper in Texas National Security Review about the challenges that tech companies face in removing terrorist content from their platforms. It’s important to understand how terrorists use the internet, Fishman writes. Generally speaking, terrorists use the Internet...
Posted: April 5, 2019, 2:59 pm

My quest to find Vox’s new Apple News Plus vertical: A UX parable in ∞ parts

Eleven days ago, Apple unveiled its premium news subscription service, Apple News Plus. And as I wrote at the time, it was kind of disappointing. Apple News Plus is based on Texture, a “Netflix-for-magazines” app built by the magazine industry — and thus structured to favor the default atomic unit of the magazine business, the...
Posted: April 5, 2019, 2:28 pm

Smart speakers are on the rise. Will news grow with them?

On midterm election night last year, NPR carried out its usual live coverage, coordinating stories from its reporters and from member stations across the country. Most of the audience followed along via these stations’ broadcast signals. But those not listening to the radio could get updates, too, by asking Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa for an...
Posted: April 4, 2019, 2:38 pm

As the new CEO of the Center for Public Integrity, Susan Smith Richardson wants to serve communities far beyond Washington

Thirty years after it was founded, the D.C.-based investigative nonprofit Center for Public Integrity operates in a very different news environment from the one in which it began. Statehouse reporting has declined drastically, as have local newspapers themselves. Susan Smith Richardson is CPI’s new CEO, the organization announced Thursday, and she’s bringing new ideas with...
Posted: April 4, 2019, 2:00 pm

In Australia, a new law on livestreaming terror attacks doesn’t take into account how the internet actually works

In response to the livestreamed terror attack in New Zealand last month, new laws have just been passed by the Australian Parliament. These laws amend the Commonwealth Criminal Code, adding two substantive new criminal offenses. Both are aimed not at terrorists but at technology companies. And how that’s done is where some of the new...
Posted: April 4, 2019, 1:50 pm

The Guardian’s nifty old-article trick is a reminder of how news organizations can use metadata to limit misinformation

This is a great idea: In order to reduce the number of its old stories that get recirculated as new, The Guardian is making a story’s age more prominent, both to readers and to those who might only see a link on social media without clicking through. Here’s Chris Moran: For some time now we’ve...
Posted: April 3, 2019, 7:39 pm

Why did Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund offer up to €50,000 to a mouthpiece of Hungary’s authoritarian government?

Google — because of some admixture of political pressure, guilt, antitrust fears, and civic-mindedness — is increasingly giving money to news organizations around the world. But as press freedom tightens in many countries, what steps are Google taking to evaluate the news organizations it sends checks to? That’s a question some in Central Europe were...
Posted: April 3, 2019, 3:20 pm

The City, a new local New York City outlet, publishes a diversity report on its first day

After cutbacks at the New York Daily News and elsewhere (and, well, complete shutdowns at DNAinfo New York and the Village Voice), New York City is actually, perhaps surprisingly, at risk of losing its local news. (Local TV does still exist there — and yes, The New York Times is hot stuff, but its priorities...
Posted: April 3, 2019, 2:13 pm

Does Google meet its users’ expectations around consumer privacy? This news industry research says no

Numerous privacy scandals over the past couple of years have fueled the need for increased examination of tech companies’ data tracking practices. While the ethics around data collection and consumer privacy have been questioned for years, it wasn’t until Facebook’s Cambridge Analytics scandal that people began to realize how frequently their personal data is shared,...
Posted: April 3, 2019, 1:52 pm

Can a local public radio station make a national podcast — and build a donor base off it? In New Hampshire, they have

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 202, published April 2, 2019. Public radio podcasts as direct donation vehicle: A case study. Last October, New Hampshire Public Radio released Bear Brook, a six-part investigative podcast that amounted to a big swing for the station. The project had local flavor; the case...
Posted: April 2, 2019, 3:34 pm

Taking local news to the really local level: Using location data to deliver relevant local news

When we at the Lenfest Local Lab introduced our second experiment, we started with this observation about local news: Oftentimes local news stories are written about the places we live, work or pass by — but we would never know it because there’s no front page in the physical world. Addressing this issue, and breathing geographic life...
Posted: April 2, 2019, 1:45 pm

Tronc Eviscerates New York Daily News With 50% Staff Cut

The cure for the newspaper  industry’s ills was once thought to be a “hyper-local” focus, but that’s not proving to be the salve for New York City, which is suffering an unprecedented decline in local news coverage. The latest casualty is the New York  Daily News, which on Monday said it would cut its newsroom staff […]
Posted: July 24, 2018, 11:54 pm

Crowdsourcing History With Global Newspaper Archive Search

The United States Holocaust Museum is conducting an interesting exercise in crowdsourced research using newspaper archives from the 1930s and 40s. Called “History Unfolded,”, the project asks students, teachers and anyone else who’s interested to look in local newspapers for accounts of 34 different Holocaust-era events that took place in the U. S. and Europe, […]
Posted: May 24, 2018, 2:20 pm

Google Pledges $300 Million to Support Quality Journalism

With the media world buzzing about the fake news engine that is Cambridge Analytica, news about a new Google initiative to support quality journalism might easily be overlooked. The multi-faceted investment covers everything from website analytics tuned to the needs of publishers to machine learning tools that identify potential subscribers. Of particular note is Subscribe with […]
Posted: March 21, 2018, 5:29 pm

Why Facebook Was So Easily Gamed

“Research has shown that the downside of powerful, centralized networks is their susceptibility to being subverted and exploited,” writes The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims in a fascinating analysis of why social networks, which were supposed to challenge hierarchy, have reinforced it instead. Delving into network theory, Mims explains why networks that start out with […]
Posted: February 20, 2018, 4:13 pm

#FakeNews: Facebook Isn't a Media Company

Despite a Pew Research study‘s finding last year that two-thirds of Facebook users rely on the site for news, the COO of the world’s largest social network insists that Facebook isn’t a media company. “At our heart we’re a tech company… we don’t hire journalists,” Sheryl Sandberg told Axios. Although Sandberg admitted that her company […]
Posted: October 19, 2017, 4:21 pm

Bad News on the Doorstep

After a spate of closures and layoffs in the latter part of the last decade, the newspaper industry appeared to find its footing over the past few years. But now that oasis of stability may be drying up. Hard times are hitting some of the most resilient titles, and the trend indicates that things are […]
Posted: November 4, 2016, 12:21 am

R.I.P. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

We’re going to call a time-of-death on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, despite the fact that the newspaper says it’ll live on with a website. Everyone says that these days. The more important news is that the 24-year-old daily will shutter its print edition and lay off 106 staff members. It will maintain an online-only edition, but most […]
Posted: September 29, 2016, 12:59 am

Startup Says It's Figured Out a Way to Make Micropayments Work

The idea of convincing readers to pay a few pennies to read a single article has been largely scoffed at over the years, but Blendle may have cracked the code, at least a little bit. Launched two years ago in Europe, Blendle says it just surpassed the one-million-member mark. It’s getting hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors […]
Posted: August 12, 2016, 1:34 pm

The Best 20 Minutes of Video You'll Watch This Week

John Oliver’s sendup of the news industry for preposterous ideas like Tronc is both hilarious and sad. Oliver digs into the video history bag to remind us that Sam Zell really did own a newspaper company at one point and thought that stories about cats could possibly support stories about crime and corruption. He also calls […]
Posted: August 10, 2016, 4:30 pm

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hikes prices even as circulation plummets

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is raising newsstand prices 50 cents to $2 per weekday issue, despite the fact that weekday print circulation has dropped 54% over the last decade.rThe move continues a drive by newspapers to raise reader revenues in the face of quickening declines in advertising sales. Ad revenues at U.S. newspapers fell 8% last year, the […]
Posted: July 13, 2016, 1:31 pm