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What are your ideas for helping local news?

How do you solve a bunch of big problems? Maybe it’s time to look at small solutions.
Posted: August 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

‘Truth isn’t truth,’ says Giuliani, continuing Trump’s war on facts

First, there were “alternative facts.” Then, the president told his supporters, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” On Sunday, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani took the administration’s Orwellian messaging to its logical conclusion, telling Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, “Truth isn’t truth.”

Trump’s antipathy toward the truth is well catalogued, with The Washington Post’s Fact Checker finding that the president made more than 4,000 false or misleading claims during his first 18 months in office. His aides and spokespeople regularly put forth contradictory explanations or simply refuse to answer questions about the administration’s actions. But rarely has the administration’s approach to the truth been so blatantly addressed.

Giuliani made the comment in response to Todd’s questions about whether or not Trump would agree to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The president’s lawyer argued that even if Trump were to give his side of the story, it would be impossible to determine what actually happened in any given instance because “truth” means different things to different people. “‘Truth isn’t truth’ is going to go down as this White House’s legal strategy,” PBS Newshour’s Yamiche Alcindor said on Todd’s panel following the Giuliani interview. “Truth isn’t truth” is ridiculous as an isolated statement, but as a guiding philosophy, it strikes at something that diehard Trump supporters in the media and the public already tacitly accept.

RELATED: The White House credibility crisis starts at the top

On Saturday, Trump’s approach to the truth was the topic of a rare joint interview on CNN with The New York Times’s Dean Baquet and The Washington Post’s Martin Baron. David Axelrod asked the two editors about Trump’s comments to CBS’s Lesley Stahl shortly after the 2016 election in which he explained that he attacks the media as part of an attempt to “discredit” what is reported. Baron thought Trump was being incredibly honest in that statement. “He wants to disqualify the press as an independent arbiter of fact,” Baron said (around 19 minutes in, for those who want to listen). “He does not want there to be an independent arbiter of fact. He certainly doesn’t want the press to be that arbiter, he doesn’t want scientists to be that arbiter, he doesn’t want the courts to be that arbiter, he doesn’t want the intelligence agencies to be the arbiter—he wants himself, and his White House, to be the arbiter of fact.”

Baquet added that the administration’s “alternative facts” are “part of an organized effort to undermine the institutions that have a role in not only trying to understand the facts but also in questioning power.”

The organized campaign Baquet referenced is at the heart of the danger Trump poses to the media. Individual attacks on the Times, the Post, and other outlets aren’t, in themselves, that big a deal. But the continuous undermining of the idea that reporters are doing their best to inform the public, that people shouldn’t believe in the concept of verifiable truth, is a tactic that will resonate long after Trump has left the White House.

Below, more on the fallout from Giuliani’s new slogan.

  • Part of Rudy’s strategy: Politico’s Rebecca Morin and David Cohen note that Sunday’s comment wasn’t out of character for Giuliani. They called back to an interview the president’s lawyer gave to CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week, in which he rejected Cuomo’s statement that “facts are not in the eye of the beholder.” “Yes, they are,” Giuliani responded. “Nowadays they are.
  • More on Trump’s lawyers: Much of Todd’s interview with Giuliani centered on Times reporting that White House counsel Don McGahn has “cooperated extensively” with Robert Mueller’s investigation. Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt followed up their initial report with a story, published after Giuliani’s MTP appearance, about the concerns among Trump’s advisors over what McGahn shared with Mueller’s team.

  • Twitter problems: Meet the Press’s Twitter account tweeted a quote from Giuliani claiming that Donald Trump, Jr. and others didn’t know the Russian government was involved in setting up the infamous Trump Tower meeting in 2016. The tweet received criticism from many, including NYU’s Jay Rosen, who wrote, “Somehow @meetthepress thinks it is still operating in the era where passing along misinformation—a claim that has already been proven false—is perfectly fine as long as it’s attributed to a public figure you had on your show. The consensus around that practice is long gone.”

 

Other notable stories

  • In an extensive interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey again promised to “question everything” as the company reconsiders incentives. Last week for CJR, Mathew Ingram argued that we shouldn’t take anything Dorsey says seriously.
  • Writing in response to last week’s wave of editorials, David Uberti argues for CJR that the war with Trump is best left to the national papers. Local outlets, he writes, should focus on the real threat to their existence: shifts in business and technology. The Post’s Margaret Sullivan adds that the editorials were fine, but a better use of press solidarity would be meaningful collaboration to take on issues like battling against “tariffs that are jacking up newsprint prices,” forcing tech platforms to “treat their editorial content with respect,” and even solving “the urgent crisis in local news.”
  • For the past five years, John J. Lennon has worked as a freelance journalist whose pieces have been published by The Atlantic, The New York Times, Pacific Standard, Esquire. He’s also serving 28 years to life for murder and selling drugs. For CJR, Tony Rehegan profiles the freelance writer of Sing Sing.
  • New ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro “wants the network to focus more on sports and less on politics,” reports The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss. Pitaro told reporters that improving relations with the NFL by focusing less on issues like protests against racial injustice and police brutality is part of that effort. Meanwhile, The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis examines why ESPN chose Joe Tessitore to rebuild its relationship with the NFL.
  • After the Queens Chronicle reported that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez banned reporters from a public town hall, Post reporter Seung Min Kim tweeted that she “is in for a rough time on Capitol Hill—where reporters roam freely at all hours of the day and night—if this is her attitude toward the press.”
  • Los Angeles is finally getting its own version of NY1. The LA Times’s Meg James reports on Charter Spectrum’s plan to launch a 24-hour local news channel in November.

ICYMI: We’re all caught in the dizzying Trump news cycle

Posted: August 20, 2018, 11:50 am

Merger of 2 public radio ‘outsiders’ has something for both

Decades ago, NPR passed on pitches for “A Prairie Home Companion,” “This American Life” and “Marketplace.” A Minnesota-based company, PRI
Posted: August 20, 2018, 11:20 am

The freelance writer of Sing Sing

When John J. Lennon writes about the criminal justice system, he must first tell his own story. Lennon is Inmate No. 040823 in the New York State Department of Corrections, serving 28 years to life for murder and selling drugs. He has been on Rikers Island, in Clinton Dannemore, Green Haven, Attica, and now Sing […]
Posted: August 17, 2018, 6:30 pm

Leave the war with Trump to the national papers

Those who’ve followed President Donald Trump’s love-hate relationship with the press may have anticipated his response to more than 350 news outlets editorializing against his attacks on Thursday. The trio of tweets alone could have gone a long way toward filling out an all-caps press-bashing bingo card: THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. […]
Posted: August 17, 2018, 3:09 pm

Podcast: Were all the free press editorials worth it?

On this week’s episode, Pete is joined by CJR Editor and Publisher Kyle Pope to discuss the flood of editorials celebrating journalism in the face of attacks by the president. Were they a worthy defense or a misguided effort? Then, CJR senior staff writer Alexandria Neason stops by to dive into the controversy surrounding a […]
Posted: August 17, 2018, 3:09 pm

Goodbye, Facebook traffic. Welcome back, SEO, we missed you?

“We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals any more. That is the old world and there is no going back.” That, allegedly, was Campbell Brown, Facebook’s global head of news partnerships, last week. The comments align with what she said in part at a Recode conference in February: “My...
Posted: August 17, 2018, 2:31 pm

Front pages around the world pay tribute to Aretha Franklin: 'Farewell to our Queen'

The queen of soul reigned over front pages around the world on Friday, one day after her death.
Posted: August 17, 2018, 2:23 pm

We’re all caught in the dizzying Trump news cycle

A former aide reveals that she secretly taped the president and other administration figures in the White House. The press secretary can’t guarantee that the president hasn’t used the n-word. More than 350 news outlets publish editorials denouncing the president’s attacks on the free press. Yesterday, WaPo national security correspondent Greg Miller capped things in a tweet: “President’s campaign chairman is waiting to find out if he’s going to prison. Architect of bin Laden raid is daring president to take his clearances. Reality show contestant/WH employee has tape of $180K offer she got to stay quiet. Years of chaos in one day.”

Lost in the churn, it can be difficult to step back and recognize just how crazy the news cycle surrounding President Donald Trump has become. Trump’s ability—sometimes by choice, sometimes by unintended consequence of his own actions or those of the people with whom he has surrounded himself—to command coverage is unparalleled. When we look back at this period in America, will this simply be seen as the new normal? Or will Trump prove unique in his monopolization of attention?

ICYMI: Journalism as jihad in Afghanistan

Trump’s role in supercharging the news cycle through his scandals, stream-of-consciousness Twitter feed, and hunger for attention is astounding. If you’re struggling to adapt, you’ve got company. A Pew report released earlier this summer found that more than two-thirds of Americans report feeling worn out by the amount of news. Some have responded by checking out of the daily grind, but for others—especially those who don’t have the luxury of ignoring political decisions that will affect them or their loved ones—tuning out isn’t an option.

Journalists aren’t immune to becoming overwhelmed. Every week, it seems, I’ll find myself in conversations with colleagues in which we lament the whirlwind pace, the inability to focus on one subject before it is shoved from the front pages by the next five-alarm fire. Early this year, CJR’s Alexandria Neason eloquently captured the burnout that some reporters experience, writing, “I suspect I’m not alone in feeling trapped in the news cycle. Most days, even a brief step away from a laptop or television can put a casual reader of the news far behind….With every ban, every policy threat, every protest I covered, every executive order, every press conference (the entire newsroom plugged in, our eye rolls almost in sync), every alarmist headline, every controversial tweet and the inevitable backlash—I became increasingly exhausted and void of any energy to actually do my job. I’d spent it all just trying to keep up.”

Trump has challenged the press not just through his “fake news” and “enemy of the people” schtick, but also by straining the bounds of our ability to separate the serious from the sensational. More than 18 months into the presidency, the media is still struggling to keep up and, as Miller said, audiences must sift through years of chaos on a daily basis.

Below, more on a totally normal, completely chaotic week, and the new reality of our news cycle.

  • Visualizing the news: Axios charted the insane Trump news cycle of 2018, using Google News Lab’s data on the googling trends of the public. Is it possible that Helsinki was only a month ago?
  • Rewind: At the end of Trump’s first year in office, The New York Times’s Matt Flegenheimer wrote: “This may be Mr. Trump’s greatest trick: His tornado of news-making has scrambled Americans’ grasp of time and memory, producing a sort of sensory overload that can make even seismic events—of his creation or otherwise—disappear from the collective consciousness and public view.”

  • A problem from the start: Even in Trump’s first hundred days, the press was struggling to keep its head above water. My former colleague David Uberti wrote that “the question we’re left with, posed time and again by journalists on Twitter, in stories, and on podcasts that double as support groups for media whiplash, is whether the public can cope. And consensus speculation is that mere mortals can’t possibly keep up.”
  • What’s next?: Will today bring a verdict in the Manafort trial? A new revelation by Omarosa? A new storyline driven by Trump’s tweets?
  • Things that matter: Examples of the stories that are easy to miss with all of the Trump news: This week Puerto Rican officials announced that power has finally been restored to all homes that lost electricity from Hurricane Maria eleven months ago. On Thursday, the US government revealed that 565 migrant children remain separated from their families.

 

Other notable stories

  • The Intercept’s James Risen argues that yesterday’s wave of editorials criticizing Trump’s attacks on the media didn’t go far enough. “Most American editors and reporters today disavow old-fashioned, crusading journalism, in which a news organization or even a group of news outlets throw all of their energy into an all-out assault on one story. They fear that crusades look partisan,” Risen writes. “But crusading journalism is what is needed now.
  • CJR’s Alexandria Neason dives into a controversy surrounding The Washington Post’s feature on two white workers struggling to adjust to changing demographics at a chicken factory in Pennsylvania. The Post defended its work after facing widespread criticism for the execution of the piece, and Neason reports on Editor Martin Baron’s conversations with some of those who have called for diversity and inclusion training at the outlet.
  • The Texas Observer and Quartz have launched a nine-part series on the impact of climate change in the Rio Grande Valley. The stories feature snazzy graphics, and the first part focuses on the way a fight for water can push nations apart, or bring them together.
  • We shouldn’t take anything Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says seriously, argues CJR’s Mathew Ingram. “Only now, more than a decade after Twitter was founded, is Dorsey finally willing to take a hard look at some of the potential negative effects of the technology he and his company created, years after those problems were first brought to their attention,” Ingram writes. “What took so long?”
  • Dylan Byers is jumping from CNN to NBC and MSNBC, where he’ll serve as senior media reporter. Byers recently launched the “Pacific” newsletter for CNN, and will continue reporting on the intersection of tech, Hollywood, and media for the peacock network.

ICYMI: A united front in defense of the press

Posted: August 17, 2018, 11:48 am

Does your Google News change based on whether you’re conservative or liberal?

How much do algorithms encourage echo chambers? We know that the information people receive can be very different depending on the terms they Google — and that can lead to fears about people with different political leanings receiving very different news. A small study that will be published in Computers in Human Behavior, however, provides...
Posted: August 17, 2018, 11:37 am

The Senate embraces the press; some readers do, too. Trump, not so much.

The Senate condemns hate-mongering toward the press; broadcast outlets amplify editorials; Trump tweets ‘collusion’; rest in peace, Aret
Posted: August 17, 2018, 10:06 am

Why we shouldn’t take Jack Dorsey seriously

After initially refusing to take action against notorious conspiracy monger Alex Jones—even after virtually every major platform had removed him for publishing hate speech—Twitter seemed to reluctantly admit that it had a problem, and put Jones in “Twitter jail” by suspending his account for seven days. Now, in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, part-time CEO […]
Posted: August 16, 2018, 7:03 pm

What we learned about media literacy by teaching high school students fact-checking

Everyone is affected by misinformation, and teenagers want to be involved in fixing it.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 6:52 pm

A litmus test for inclusivity at the Washington Post

On July 30, The Washington Post published a story, “White, and in the Minority,” profiling Heaven Engle, 20, and Venson Heim, 25, both factory workers at a Bell & Evans chicken plant in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania. Engle and Heim are white and do not speak Spanish; their colleagues, predominantly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, […]
Posted: August 16, 2018, 5:32 pm

Jack Dorsey says Twitter is experimenting with features to promote “alternative viewpoints” in people’s timelines

All unhappy social media networks are unhappy in their own ways. Twitter has capped off a weird week of equivocating over the presence of Alex Jones and InfoWars on its platform as other platforms like Facebook and YouTube finally decided to boot Infowars content. (Jones is currently facing a seven-day mini-ban, putting his account in...
Posted: August 16, 2018, 5:29 pm

How this Ohio newsroom got the community to contribute nearly $70,000 for journalism

The baby shower was just the beginning.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 4:03 pm

Fake academic journals are publishing work from real researchers alongside junk science

Academia is the last bastion of unadulterated truth, right? Wrong.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 3:30 pm

How The Globe and Mail is covering cannabis, Canada’s newest soon-to-be-legal industry

When life gives you nationwide legalization of recreational cannabis, you make high-priced subscription products covering the industry. And hire at least five new journalists focused exclusively on the cannabis beat. And build out major live events around demystifying the industry. In October, Canada is set to become the first G-7 country to fully legalize the...
Posted: August 16, 2018, 1:13 pm

A united front in defense of the press

Pick up a copy of your local paper today, and it’s likely you’ll find within a defense of the free press. More than 350 newspapers have responded to the call put out by Boston Globe deputy editorial page editor Marjorie Pritchard to unite in the face of President Trump’s criticism of the media. From Georgia to Nebraska to Oregon, editorial boards are weighing in on the importance of the work that journalists do.

“Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people,’” reads the Globe’s offering. “This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president.” In its editorial, which includes excerpts from across the country, The New York Times notes that “these attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry’s economic crisis.”

Hundreds of editorial boards around the country are joining with @GlobeOpinion to defend the #FreePress. Here’s why: https://t.co/pXHa55uELM pic.twitter.com/nPwtIYrEi4

— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) August 15, 2018

While press defenses are necessary in the face of an unrelenting assault from the president and his lackeys, some have argued that the coordinated response plays into Trump’s hands. Politico’s Jack Shafer writes that the similar scripts “will provide Trump with circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him.” The San Francisco Chronicle raised the issue of independence in its decision not to join other papers in today’s effort. Another thread of this reasoning questions whether editorials have the power to move the needle at all. As David Uberti wrote for CJR prior to the 2016 election, newspaper editorial boards threw everything they had against Trump’s candidacy, to seemingly minimal effect.

ICYMI: Teamwork in the midst of tragedy

But with the president consistently tweeting “fake news” through the world’s biggest megaphone, a united front from those on the ground is welcome. Not every paper is taking on Trump directly, and the most effective pieces I read were those reminding readers of the valuable work that reporters do in their communities. Despite what plays on cable news, most journalists aren’t focused on Washington; they’re reporting on local issues, working to keep their communities informed of issues that impact their daily lives.

Washington Post Editor Marty Baron has made a habit of repeating that, when it comes to reporting on Trump, journalists are not at war, they’re at work. The implication of the statement is that reporters can’t play into the president’s us vs. them framing. Similarly, the messages in today’s newspapers are best read not as a drift toward war footing, but rather as a reminder that journalism is important work.

Below, a check-in with editorials from around the country.

  • Bangor Daily News (Maine): “[News organizations] are the only way you know when your government isn’t working as it should. They are the only independent way to know what elected officials are doing. Often, if the government doesn’t like journalists, it’s probably because they’re doing their job right.”

  • Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico):  “For more than two centuries—since the birth of our nation—the press has served as a check on power, informing the American people about corruption and greed, triumphs and tragedies, grave mistakes and misdeeds and even ineptitude and dysfunction inside the halls of government, institutions and businesses.”

  • Tampa Bay Times (Florida): “In such a toxic environment, Trump’s declarations undermine not just journalists and news organizations but the communities and democracy we endeavor to serve. It is an attempt to blur the difference between fact-based news gathering, and the lies and propaganda that spread like wildfire through social media. Ultimately, engaged citizens must play the vital role in distinguishing one from the other as they choose their elected leaders and shape civic life.”

  • Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Montana): “We’ve been complacent. We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and that all this talk about us being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is. But the reckless attacks have continued, instigated and encouraged by our president.”

  • The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah): “This editorial is one of more than 200 such pieces running today in newspapers across the nation….As such, it runs the risk of being seen as a mass collusion on the part of the media against the president. But this is a fight he chose. And it is essential that the press stand up for its right—its duty—to tell what may be unpleasant or unpopular truths.”

Other notable stories

  • A Reuters special report by Steve Stecklow explores why Facebook is losing the war on hate speech in Myanmar. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg pledged to dedicate more resources to combat the sort of posts that had incited violence against the Rohingya minority. Four months later, Stecklow finds that little has changed.

  • For CJR, Maia Szalavitz takes on the “relatable addict” narrative that describes much of the coverage of the opioid epidemic. “The ‘relatable’ story journalists and editors tend to seek—of a good girl or guy (usually, in this crisis, white) gone bad because pharma greed led to overprescribing—does not accurately characterize the most common story of opioid addiction,” she writes.

  • Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada read half a dozen “hagiographies” of the president, finding that “some are born Trump sycophants. Some achieve Trump sycophancy. And some have Trump sycophancy thrust upon them—since he’s a star, they let him do that.”

  • The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas snagged an Oval Office interview with President Trump on Wednesday. The 20-minute conversation focused largely on the impact of Trump’s tariff regimen, and Nicholas does an excellent job within the story of puncturing Trump’s inflated claims with actual numbers and context.

  • The Post’s Paul Farhi profiles CNN digital sleuth Andrew Kaczynski, who he calls “the foremost practitioner of the journalistic equivalent of dumpster diving.” Kaczynski and his “KFile” team have been responsible for dozens of scoops about troubling comments by public figures, several of which have resulted in resignations.

ICYMI: Most Americans think platforms should stop filtering news

Posted: August 16, 2018, 11:45 am

Freedom: 411 papers editorialize to preserve America’s free press

'This is what we do'
Posted: August 16, 2018, 11:03 am

Wicked Problem: Journalism’s saviors may come from unexpected places

In June, the New Jersey legislature will invest $5 million in local news initiatives. It’s not the amount of the money that’s shocking—$5 million for such purposes is a pittance—but the fact that an American state government wants to invest in journalism at all. In other countries, this wouldn’t be news. Per capita, Western countries […]
Posted: August 16, 2018, 10:55 am

America, help! The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write

Here are excerpts from a nationwide drive of news editorials to promote a free press and reject President Donald Trump’s drive to scapego
Posted: August 16, 2018, 1:36 am

Has the GDPR law actually gotten European news outlets to cut down on rampant third-party cookies and content on their sites? It seems so

It seems that a fairly severe, sweeping data privacy law in Europe could be just the incentive news organizations needed to trim the number of third-party cookies and content loading on their sites before readers have a chance to give explicit consent, according to a Reuters Institute report on a wide selection of news sites...
Posted: August 15, 2018, 11:01 pm

Teamwork in the midst of tragedy

Watch any relay race, and no matter the speed or level of competition, one thing is universal: the look. The moment a runner hands off the baton, trusting the next person to finish what he or she started, a look of both relief and exhaustion envelops their face. That is how Kalani Gordon looked at […]
Posted: August 15, 2018, 7:46 pm

What I learned about writing from listening to Aretha Franklin

Because of Aretha — and her producers — the word respect is one that no man should ever forget how to spell.
Posted: August 15, 2018, 5:30 pm

Democracy is cracking and platforms are no help. What can we do about it? Some policy suggestions

Platforms aren’t efficiently self-regulating. Government officials don’t know how Facebook’s advertising works (or some know it too well). The internet can be a cesspool of spiteful users and malicious bots and yeah, in some places, digital-based communities and positive connections. But what can be done? How about requiring internet companies to be legally liable for...
Posted: August 15, 2018, 4:00 pm

How media coverage of epidemics helps raise anxiety and reduce trust

Lethal infectious diseases are making headlines again, with 17 confirmed new Ebola cases reported in Congo as of August 8. The news brings back the memories of Americans’ unjustified fear during the 2014 outbreak. In any outbreak or public health crisis, health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need to deliver...
Posted: August 15, 2018, 3:24 pm

Major internet companies might want to push their own point of view, but can they also take care of misinformation please and thank you

So we all heard Facebook’s view on the role that major companies play in deciding who gets what news. (Really, no need to say it twice.) But what does your average Mark or Campbell think? According to a new survey by the Knight Foundation and Gallup, American adults feel negatively about major Internet companies tailoring...
Posted: August 15, 2018, 11:38 am

I want bad news and I want it fast: That’s the business model for Factal, a business-focused company from the founders of Breaking News

Breaking News, which sent out news alerts from around the globe 24 hours a day, was beloved, but that wasn’t enough to save it. The company, consisting of a Twitter feed (with 9.1 million followers), app, and website, was shut down by its owner, NBC News, at the end of 2016. From a memo to...
Posted: August 14, 2018, 4:15 pm

American podcasters are starting to pay more attention to their international audiences (and their pounds, loonies, and euros)

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 173, published August 14, 2018. International House of Podcasts. When considering the global potential for podcasts, the prospects of non-American podcast companies and publishers — like the BBC, Louie Media, The Australian (I guess? what a week for that organization), and so on —...
Posted: August 14, 2018, 2:29 pm

Read Nieman Lab stories in other languages — and help us translate them into more!

Did you know you can read many Nieman Lab stories in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish? Over the past couple of years, through the help of many partners, from the likes of IJNet to Yomiuri Shimbun to Outriders to Tencent, we’ve been trying to expand the number of people who...
Posted: August 13, 2018, 6:26 pm

How not to be a parachute partner: ProPublica’s figured out how to collaborate with local newsrooms without bigfooting them

Eight months into its first year, ProPublica’s local reporting network has helped: a radio reporter in Orlando survey first responders about PTSD; a newspaper reporter in southern Illinois scrutinize the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s policies nationwide; and a reporter with 27 years of experience hone his writing as his newspaper was bartered in...
Posted: August 13, 2018, 2:22 pm

Facebook’s message to media: “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic…That is the old world and there is no going back”

The Australian — the Murdoch-owned national paper — has an interesting (and aggressively paywalled) scoop about Facebook today, based on comments Campbell Brown, the company’s global head of news partnerships, allegedly made during a meeting with Australian media executives in Sydney last week. Here are the quotes attributed to Brown in the story: “Mark [Zuckerberg]...
Posted: August 13, 2018, 1:54 pm

Submissive audiences? “Less special” news outlets? And other inspiring thoughts from WordPress’s publisher summit

Do you really want your audiences to submit to you? That and other questions came up during this year’s WordPress Camp for Publishers, running Wednesday through Friday in Chicago. Brian Boyer of Spirited Media “forever ruined” Submit boxes for some attendees, but Austin Smith (CEO of Alley and the Lenfest Institute‘s recent entrepreneur-in-residence) also presented...
Posted: August 10, 2018, 3:07 pm

An analysis of 16,000 stories, across 100 U.S. communities, finds very little actual local news

We know that local journalism is suffering. We talk about news deserts and shuttering newspapers. Research has tended to focus on individual communities, or more broadly on certain types of journalism outlets and the coverage of certain types of topics. But what do the problems for local news look like on a broader level? Researchers...
Posted: August 10, 2018, 1:24 pm

We can write about Twitter, we can stay on Twitter, but we can’t expect anything from Twitter

Are you still having fun? Brief recap of why Alex Jones and Infowars are bad and gross. Infowars is a conspiracy-theory-driven website that publishes many fake stories and also sells a ton of overpriced and ineffective nutritional supplements. (It has also, over the years, ripped off thousands of pieces of content not just from Russia...
Posted: August 10, 2018, 1:12 pm

The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote an audience-driven article using Instagram Stories (and it wasn’t even about a hippo)

If you follow news organizations on Instagram, you probably see a dozen news quizzes or “things to know” every week on your Instagram Stories. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong about testing followers on current events and sharing roundups. But on a platform that lets users vote, rate something’s emoji-level, ask questions directly, and more —...
Posted: August 9, 2018, 4:13 pm

There will always be another Alex Jones, a glitch in the American system

Confrontational characters spouting conspiracy theories and promoting fringe ideas have been with us since the invention of American broadcasting. First on radio, then on television, the American audience has consistently proven eager to consume the rants of angry and bitter men. Before Alex Jones and InfoWars, there was Glenn Beck. A decade ago, Beck was...
Posted: August 9, 2018, 3:30 pm

How The Wall Street Journal is revamping its newsletters — and trying to add some whimsy

The Wall Street Journal is not exactly known for its sense of whimsy — but that’s what the folks revamping its newsletter system are aiming for. When Cory Schouten and Annemarie Dooling (formerly of CJR/Indianapolis Business Journal and Vox Media, respectively) joined the Journal’s newsletter team earlier this year, they embarked on the journey of...
Posted: August 8, 2018, 4:00 pm

Whoops, the paywall just reset: Here are some of the nasty bumps your paid-content setup can hit

The growing troubles of (non-Facebook, non-Google) digital advertising have left many publishers eager to move to a reader-driven, digital-focused revenue model. And it can be done: The New York Times announced in its earnings report Thursday that subscriptions now account for nearly two-thirds of its revenue, and that of its 3.8 million subscriptions, 2.9 million...
Posted: August 8, 2018, 3:03 pm

In Germany, a news site is pairing up liberals and conservatives and actually getting them to (gasp) have a civil conversation

If only online dating could go as smoothly. As an attempted antidote to sociopolitical polarization in its country — particularly all the hateful logjams that play out online — the German national news site Zeit Online has developed a seemingly simple mechanism of matching up people who live near each other but have different views...
Posted: August 8, 2018, 2:42 pm

More than 1,000 U.S. news sites are still unavailable in Europe, two months after GDPR took effect

As a senior editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daniel Rubin writes a daily newsletter with links to 10 “Hey, Martha!” articles — some on Philly.com, some on other news websites. The newsletter is a labor of love, Rubin said, and he kept it going even during a recent vacation to Ireland. Scouring the web for...
Posted: August 7, 2018, 4:05 pm

If Facebook makes a safe harbor for journalists and researchers, would it help?

If The New York Times hadn’t reported on the fake Twitter follower factories. If ProPublica hadn’t investigated targeted Facebook ads discriminating against users based on race, disability, and gender. If Gizmodo hadn’t uncovered the way Facebook’s “People You May Know” feature can create shadow profiles for non-users. If the Tow Center and The Washington Post...
Posted: August 7, 2018, 4:03 pm

Podcasting’s next frontier: A manifesto for growth (beyond the already converted)

This is a long article. It will be challenging to some, especially those that have been in podcasting a long time (which, for the record, I have). I’ll make a deal with you, however — I’ll back up every assertion in this post with credible research data. You, in return, keep an open mind. Deal?...
Posted: August 7, 2018, 4:00 pm

A big shakeup at Audible has left the audiobook giant’s podcast strategy unclear

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 172, published August 7, 2018. Huge shakeups at Audible Originals. I can confirm that the Amazon-owned audiobook giant announced internally last Thursday that it was eliminating a considerable number of roles within its original programming unit. Sources within the company tell me that the...
Posted: August 7, 2018, 2:26 pm

WhatsApp is a black box of viral misinformation — but in Brazil, 24 newsrooms are teaming up to fact-check it

Another big national election means another big collaborative fact-checking initiative. But this one will get a small but important assist from the Facebook-owned messaging behemoth WhatsApp — where a healthy share of the world’s misinformation gets distributed. Comprova, a fact-checking collective made up of 24 newsrooms around Brazil, launched Monday. It will monitor mis- and...
Posted: August 6, 2018, 4:07 pm

What is a Scandinavian media company’s first-ever director of public policy up against?

GDPR and forthcoming ePrivacy regulations around consumer data protections. Antitrust fights and fines, new taxation proposals, a continued unpleasant relationship between technology platforms and news organizations. And no respite in sight. Karin Pettersson, Schibsted’s new director of public policy and the first to hold such a role within the Scandinavian media giant, is diving into...
Posted: August 6, 2018, 2:51 pm

Echoing the network: The most interesting new digital and social media research

It’s difficult to choose which research articles to spotlight here as the most interesting or compelling — because scholars are doing so much interesting and compelling work. They’re continually asking tough questions to try to understand problems and trends within the digital news/social media space. Recently, we enlisted help from faculty at a variety of...
Posted: August 6, 2018, 2:12 pm

Upworthy just laid off 31 people. The question remains why.

Good Media Group, which owns viral site Upworthy and Good Magazine, cut at least 31 employees yesterday. The layoffs were first announced on Thursday afternoon in a tweet from editor-in-chief Liz Heron, who said she is also resigning. Today, almost my entire team at Upworthy/GOOD was laid off (and I resigned). This talented and passionate...
Posted: August 3, 2018, 5:27 pm

With “Your Feed,” The New York Times lets iOS users follow topics and journalists (in a non-overwhelming way)

The New York Times has a new notification for you: Open its iOS app and, in the upper right-hand corner of the home screen, you’ll see a new icon right next to the Times logo. That’s “Your Feed,” a major new feature that the Times rolled out to all iOS app users this week and...
Posted: August 3, 2018, 1:30 pm