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Reporter explains local effects of climate change through advice column

Mark in Charleston wants to know how to tell his fellow South Carolinians about the gravity of sea level rise without pushing them to anger or despair. Katie in Virginia is concerned about public health in her home state of North Carolina. And an anonymous New Yorker isn’t sure how to talk to her Republican […]
Posted: January 15, 2019, 5:47 pm

Readers say that the best thing about paying for digital news is freedom from the paywall

What is the biggest benefit of paying for online news? Digital publishing firm Twipe surveyed nearly 4,000 people from six European countries and the U.S., and found that the most-cited reason for paying is unlimited access to stories — followed by, uh, access to print (with feeling good about paying for news quite a bit...
Posted: January 15, 2019, 4:28 pm

Spotify says it’s getting serious about podcasts (yes, again) and there are lots of questions

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 191, published January 15, 2018. Spotify and podcasts, circa 2019. CES, that fine mess formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, was held in Las Vegas last week, and I took in the proceedings the way I always have: from behind the comforting glow...
Posted: January 15, 2019, 3:30 pm

Yellow Vest protesters continue to assault journalists

In late November, as the Gilets Jaunes—or Yellow Vests—protest movement took hold in France, Martin Goillandeau and Makana Eyre wrote for CJR that participants were harassing, and even assaulting, journalists. Since then, the protests have become a weekly occurrence. So, too, have threats against reporters. “The harassment and violence have got worse,” Eyre told me this morning. “I went to the Saturday protests in Paris to shoot photos and see how big it would get. This was the first time that I really felt nervous with my camera… I saw people interfering with broadcasts, shouting at media teams, and getting in their faces. For much of it, I had my camera in my coat.”

This past weekend, a group of Yellow Vests in the northern city of Rouen set upon two journalists working for LCI, a French TV news broadcaster; they were spared by two bodyguards, one of whom ended up in hospital with a broken nose. Protesters aggressed another LCI team in Paris. In Toulon, two Agence France-Presse reporters were chased by about 10 people, while in nearby Marseille, photographers were hassled and blocked from taking pictures. In Toulouse, a group of protesters trapped a 31-year-old local journalist in her car and threatened her with rape. “They wanted me to open my window. I told them it wasn’t possible, that I had to go and pick up my son,” she recalled. “A man threatened me that I had two seconds to get out.” Organized groups have hampered newspapers’ core operations, too: overnight on Friday, for example, about 30 Yellow Vests blocked regional newspaper La Voix du Nord’s distribution depot and threatened to burn a truck, stopping 20,000 copies of the paper from being delivered. On Sunday, trash cans were set on fire outside the same paper’s offices. While no motive was immediately established, its director doesn’t think it was an accident.

VIDÉO @paris_normandie. Une équipe de journalistes de la chaîne @LCI ciblée par des manifestants à #Rouen. Les deux journalistes étaient accompagnés de deux agents de sécurité, dont l'un a dû être transporté à l'hôpital.
🔴 Suivez notre direct sur les ➡

— paris_normandie (@paris_normandie) January 12, 2019

Hatred of the news media among Yellow Vests derives from a poisonous cocktail of old and new grievances: as the sociologist Jean-Marie Charon told Le Monde, French radicals’ longstanding distrust of the press has been exacerbated of late by perceived negative coverage and anti-corporate rhetoric aimed at the big media companies. Public trust in journalists is critically low. And the media has lacked consistent support from politicians, who, as in the US and elsewhere, have indulged anti-press attacks more frequently in recent years. On Saturday, Noëlle Lenoir, a former government minister and (ironically) president of Radio France’s ethics committee, tweeted that the LCI journalists in Rouen bore responsibility for being attacked.

Yellow Vests’ attacks on journalists are complicated by the fact that it’s unclear who, broadly speaking, might reasonably be held accountable for them, or call for them to stop. The Yellow Vests movement is highly diffuse: while some activists have effectively become spokespeople, it lacks leadership and a coherent ideological agenda. An unpopular hike in diesel tax sparked the protests—neon yellow vests only became a symbol because French motorists are obliged to keep them in their cars—but that policy has long since been scrapped, and still tensions continue. Copycat movements have started, albeit on a much smaller scale, in other European countries, including the UK. But again, beyond a general sense of anti-establishment rage, it’s not easy to define what links different “Yellow Vests” movements.

For now, politicians and well-intentioned activists—via public platforms and out on the streets—should speak out in support of the press, and look out for the journalists who, by doing their jobs, are putting themselves in harm’s way. And media-watchers in the US should pay attention. In France, the fear of routine physical violence against reporters has become real.

Below, more on the Yellow Vests:

  • “We want your skin”: In November, Goillandeau and Eyre recounted shocking early examples of attacks on reporters. In Toulouse, for example, “dozens of Yellow Vests started yelling, ‘We want your skin,’ and ‘You’re less than shit,’ then calling the journalists ‘collaborators,’ a reference to the support the Vichy government gave to the Nazis during World War II.”
  • In the ring: While the Yellow Vests movement lacks a coherent structure, some activists have gained a wide following on social media or personal press attention. The Financial Times’s Domitille Alain and Victor Mallet profile eight important figures, including Christophe Dettinger, a former French boxing champion who was filmed punching police officers in Paris last month.
  • Talking it out: On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron, who the Yellow Vests want to resign, announced a three-month “national debate” he hopes will quell the protests. While he promised to listen, however, he said his economic-reform agenda would continue.
  • Empty vests: “Yellow Vests” has become fraught shorthand for reporters; while the symbol has become ubiquitous in France, it’s increasingly meaningless in ideological terms. In the UK, meanwhile, both far-left and far-right protesters have appropriated it. The Guardian’s Ben Quinn and Jon Henley track the fight for ideological ownership.

Other notable stories:

ICYMI: Thank you to everyone who can’t redact documents properly

Posted: January 15, 2019, 12:55 pm

Facebook says it plans to put $300M into journalism projects

After what Facebook says were lengthy consultations with media partners and users, the social network came to the conclusion that local journalism is one of the areas that needs the most help, so this morning it announced plans to put a total of $300 million over three years into a number of journalism projects, including […]
Posted: January 15, 2019, 12:00 pm

Facebook is committing $300 million to support news, with an emphasis on local

Facebook and the local news industry both had tough 2018s — but on wildly different levels. Facebook began the year by shifting its News Feed algorithm in favor of more “meaningful interactions” and less Page/news content. That evolved to include focuses on trusted news, local news, and informative news. Some viral-focused publishers folded from the...
Posted: January 15, 2019, 11:00 am

Confederate statues have nothing good to teach student journalists

A statue of a Confederate soldier at the door of a newspaper would immediately call into question the paper’s ability to serve its entire community. Yet for more than a century, student journalists at the University of North Carolina have learned their craft a short distance from a Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam.” Faculty […]
Posted: January 14, 2019, 7:19 pm

Calling racism racism and remembering not everyone is white: Some predictions for 2019 about diversity in news

Our end-of-year “Predictions for Journalism” package has grown and grown and grown since its first iteration back in 2011. For the 2019 iteration, we published more than 200, and it’s possible I am literally the only person alive to have read all of them. So over the next few days, we’ll be running what I’m...
Posted: January 14, 2019, 6:51 pm

Newsonomics: Let the 2019 Consolidation Games begin! First up: Alden seeks to swallow Gannett

Alden Global Capital, the most reviled newspaper owner in the business, now wants to buy Gannett, the United States’ largest daily newspaper company. As reported Sunday evening by The Wall Street Journal — and then confirmed via early Monday morning press release — Alden, through its Digital First Media/MNG Enterprise ownership, has offered a 23...
Posted: January 14, 2019, 5:10 pm

The transformation of the word geek

In Liar’s Poker, his 1989 seminal account of trading, Michael Lewis has a chapter called “From Geek to Man.” Here’s what he says about “geeks”: “A geek is a circus performer who bites the heads off live chickens and snakes. Or so says the red American Heritage Dictionary.” When Lewis arrived at Salomon Brothers in […]
Posted: January 14, 2019, 4:46 pm

Hedge-fund vultures eye Gannett

Last night, The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo reported that MNG Enterprises Inc. is planning a bid for Gannett, the publishing powerhouse that owns USA Today as well as important local papers such as the Arizona Republic, the Detroit Free Press, and Iowa’s Des Moines Register. The scoop might normally have passed under the radar as standard-issue jockeying—except MNG Enterprises is better known as Digital First Media, the prolific private-equity-backed publisher that has become an industry byword for cost-cutting and job-slashing.

The largest shareholder of Digital First Media, which owns about 200 publications nationwide, is Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that specializes in investing in troubled companies. The names Digital First and Alden made headlines last April after flagship paper The Denver Post ran an editorial excoriating them as “vultures” alongside a striking all-staff photo, from 2013, with tens of since-laid-off employees blacked out. A few weeks later, the editor of a neighboring Digital First title, Boulder’s Daily Camera, was fired over a similar rebuke; then, in early May, the Post’s editorial page editor himself resigned, accusing Digital First executives of further attempts at censorship (CJR published a critical editorial he said was spiked). As tensions rose, staffers from Digital First papers as far away as California traveled to protest outside Alden’s New York offices. Buyout campaigns were mooted, then fizzled.

ICYMI: Condoned by Trump, press attacks hit local reporters hard

Given this raw context, yesterday’s Journal report elicited immediate concern among media reporters and local-news watchers, many of whom noted that Gannett titles nationwide are in a sad enough state without the prospect of further cuts. Keach Hagey, Lombardo’s colleague at the Journal, tweeted: “After watching what Gannett has done to my hometown paper—cutting most of the staff, outsourcing printing so far away local sports scores can’t appear the next day—I’m fascinated to learn what fat Digital First thinks is left.” Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton added that “Digital First is the worst owner of newspapers in America and they will do their best to draw blood from even Gannett’s already desiccated stone.” And the LA Times’s Matt Pearce warned Gannett that, if Digital First is knocking on its door, it should “lock the deadbolt.”

It’s too early to say how Digital First’s courtship will play out. It has raised the idea in the past and been rebuffed, according to Lombardo, who adds that “it isn’t clear whether Gannett will be receptive now.” Although Robert Dickey, Gannett’s CEO, emailed staffers last night to tell them that a new proposal had yet to be communicated, Digital First confirmed its intentions this morning. Dickey is set to retire in May, with Gannett yet to name a replacement. Lombardo reports that Digital First, which already holds a 7.5 percent stake in Gannett, wants to broker a strategy review before any leadership change is finalized, and hasn’t ruled out pushing changes to Gannett’s board if it isn’t successful. While Gannett stock has rebounded of late, it’s trended down over several years. Digital First, which is relatively profitable, is pressing the case that a sale is Gannett’s best bet.

Even if Digital First’s latest power play comes to nothing, it’s an important reminder of the power hedge-fund owners wield over local news. And if it does presage a successful bid, journalists—and readers—nationwide should brace for more big papers to be stripped for parts.

Below, more on the dire climate for local news:

  • A unified front: CJR covered last year’s tensions at Digital First titles in detail. Corey Hutchins tracked sister papers’ different responses to The Denver Post’s editorial stand, and interviewed Julie Reynolds, a freelance reporter who made Alden the focus of her work. Meg Dalton, meanwhile, went downtown to Alden HQ to cover the protests there.
  • Milking profits: Last May, Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor tallied the profits Alden has made by cutting newspapers to the bone. In addition to The Denver Post and other titles, Digital First’s Southern California and Bay Area news groups have seen eye-watering staff reductions—with The Mercury News, for example, reduced to around a tenth of its peak size.
  • More Bay layoffs: On Friday, the East Bay Express, an alt-weekly in California (which is not owned by Digital First), laid off almost its entire editorial staff, The Mercury News’s David DeBolt writes. The Express won a Polk award in 2016 after exposing a police sex scandal in Oakland, but is now shifting to a freelancer-driven model as print revenue declines. A court’s ruling that the paper illegally denied overtime to a former staffer has exacerbated its financial problems.
  • The King of local news: After Maine’s Portland Press Herald announced it was scrapping its Sunday review of local books, local author Stephen King took to Twitter to voice his disapproval. Spying an opportunity, the paper replied that if 100 of King’s followers bought a digital subscription, it would reinstate the book reviews. The gambit worked: by Sunday, the Press Herald had 200 new subscribers.

Other notable stories:

ICYMI: Thank you to everyone who can’t redact documents properly

UpdateThis post has been updated to reflect the breaking news that Digital First Media confirmed its proposal to acquire Gannett.

Posted: January 14, 2019, 12:38 pm

Journalism is now the second draft of history

In the age of the relentless media fact-check, reading the news often feels like hearing a punch-line deflated before you catch the body of the joke. Free-floating fact-checking initiatives have lately become big (non-profit) business. In an industry—the written media—whose economic fortunes are in wholesale retreat, rapid rebuttal of other people’s facts is one of […]
Posted: January 14, 2019, 11:55 am

Heightening the CMS race: and News Revenue Hub devise a toolkit for local newsrooms

Around two-thirds of smaller and medium-sized publishers use WordPress as their CMS (that’s content management system for the newbies) — but how many publishers can say they’ve developed a sustainable business model? The optimistic answer: More in 2019 (the realistic answer: unclear), or at least they’ll get closer to cobbling it together. is launching...
Posted: January 14, 2019, 10:00 am

“Here’s what else you need to know today”: The New York Times launches a flash audio briefing and other voice stuff for Alexa

The New York Times is pushing further into voice products for smart speakers. On Friday, the company announced that it’s launching a weekday flash news briefing called The New York Times Briefing for Alexa-enabled devices (hosted by Michael Barbaro, who is a busy man). It’s also debuting a weekly interactive news quiz from The Daily’s...
Posted: January 11, 2019, 5:00 pm

Palestinian citizens of Israel struggle to tell their stories

Majd Daniel wants to tell the stories of his people: Palestinian citizens of Israel. The 27-year-old from northern Israel most likes to interview people “who were there in the Nakba”—the catastrophe, the Palestinian term for Israel’s founding—“to learn about old Haifa and all the Palestinian villages that were destroyed.” When we spoke in November, he […]
Posted: January 11, 2019, 4:05 pm

Fighting information overload instead of contributing to it: Some 2019 predictions about business models for news

Our end-of-year “Predictions for Journalism” package has grown and grown and grown since its first iteration back in 2011. For the 2019 iteration, we published more than 200, and it’s possible I am literally the only person alive to have read all of them. So over the next few days, we’ll be running what I’m...
Posted: January 11, 2019, 3:18 pm

Here’s (exactly) how The Correspondent raised $2.5 million in a month

When your fundraising campaign stalls, go on The Daily Show. Okay, that’s obviously not an option for everyone (or almost anyone) — and this is not a normal “how the sausage is made” story — but still, if you want to know how The Correspondent’s fundraiser for its U.S. launch went from “this actually may not...
Posted: January 11, 2019, 3:11 pm

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dominates the conversation

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exploded onto the scene last June with a New York primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley, chair of the House Democratic caucus, many in the media wondered why they’d failed to see her coming. While left-leaning outlets such as The Intercept, Splinter, and The Young Turks had paid attention to Ocasio-Cortez’s longshot bid, more mainstream publications had overlooked both her campaign and the radically progressive platform it touted. “Abolish ICE” and “Medicare for all” quickly entered the lexicon of the political press.

Seven months later, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez fills column inches as a disrupter in Washington. In addition to her agenda, plenty of ink has spilled on her social media game: prominent media and tech writers have lined up recently to hail it as a mini-revolution in political communication. Where Trump, is “online,” Ocasio-Cortez is “Extremely Online,” Kara Swisher writes in her New York Times column. Ocasio-Cortez’s #relatable video content humanizes her, Swisher adds, whereas Trump’s disembodied tweets make him look “more and more like a giant cartoon bobblehead.”

ICYMI: How a problematic NYT article shows how newsrooms are out of touch with the communities they cover

The right-wing mediasphere, which had become accustomed to its own viral dominance, has developed an obsession with Ocasio-Cortez. Other top targets, like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, have rarely dignified its ire with a response, yet Ocasio-Cortez, backed by her many supporters on social media, has proved adept at drowning out the noise with blaring counter-noise. When critics tag a “scandal” to her, she quickly turns it around—and scores points with her fans in the process.

When, in November, a Washington Examiner reporter shared a picture of Ocasio-Cortez dressed in normal clothes with the caption “that don’t look like a girl who struggles,” he was, as Vice put it, “ratio’d into oblivion” on Twitter—reigniting a debate on salaries for incoming lawmakers. Last week, after an “Anonymous Q” Twitter account shared a video of Ocasio-Cortez dancing in college, she filmed and tweeted an update; this time to the song “War (What Is It Good For).” This week, the Daily Caller found itself on the end of another Ocasio-Cortez clapback after sharing a hoax “nude selfie” of her in the bath that had already been comprehensively debunked. Ocasio-Cortez used this episode to draw attention to the heightened scrutiny women face in leadership positions. “No wonder they defended [Brett] Kavanaugh so fiercely,” she wrote.

Responses to these conflagrations represent only a small portion of Ocasio-Cortez’s online presence: she’s on social media day-in, day-out, sharing everything from serious policy points to cooking tips, using the informality of the latter to boost the appeal of the former. As BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel (who yesterday announced he is headed to the Times opinion desk) writes, all these posts are “agenda-setting.” Ocasio-Cortez has not limited herself to social forums: last weekend, she used a high-profile 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper to suggest tax rates as high as 70 percent to fund a “Green New Deal”; on Tuesday, soon after Trump’s Oval Office address to the nation, Ocasio-Cortez went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, drawing attention to the separation of families at the border. Taken together, it all begins to seem like one big, personalized, multimedia feedback loop.

That’s quite a lot for a Congresswoman just now wrapping up her first week. Despite being a newbie in Congress, she’s been effective in speaking for her colleagues. Last weekend, she told Cooper that she does not see herself as a “flamethrower” but as a “consensus builder.” Nonetheless, both her policy platform and communication style show she’s intent on burning the status quo. Ocasio-Cortez intends to dominate the conversation, and not let it dominate her.

ICYMI: Mainstream media grapples with a left-wing wave

Below, more on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

  • A disrupter: Wired’s Antonio García Martínez writes that “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a social media marketing genius, and very likely a harbinger of a new American political reality … The same way florid, hours-long public oratory (echoed by the newfangled telegraph and newspapers) was the route to power for Lincoln in 1860, the preeningly candid self-display of streaming social media will be the route to power in 2020 and beyond.”
  • On fact-checking: When Cooper fact-checked an old Ocasio-Cortez tweet on Medicare for all, she drew criticism for responding “I think there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.” Writing for New York’s Intelligencer, Eric Levitz argues that she has a point. “Which truths and falsehoods the mainstream press chooses to spotlight—and which it leaves unscrutinized—does reflect the ideological biases of the “objective” press,” he writes. “While Medicare for All’s proponents are constantly confronted with the fiscal implications of their preferred policy, opponents of dramatically expanding the public sector’s role in health care are rarely confronted with the humanitarian implications of leaving nearly 30 million Americans uninsured.”
  • The status quo: Ocasio-Cortez created a new Instagram account yesterday, blaming “House rules” for having to mothball her old one. “The Members’ Congressional Handbook doesn’t explicitly say that lawmakers are required to make new accounts, but in most cases it’s easier to separate their government resources and personal ones in order to avoid ethics violations,” The Verge’s Makena Kelly explains.
  • Pulling teeth: Braving a new #relatable frontier yesterday, Beto O’Rourke broadcast his dental appointment in an Instagram Story. Some people wish he hadn’t. “A sudden rush of extremely online candidates could leave some politicians oversharing,” The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill writes. “When everyone is uploading folksy videos from their kitchens, it takes an otherwise questionable Teeth Video to cut through the noise.”

Other notable stories:

ICYMI: How Der Spiegel was deceived by a fabulist

Posted: January 11, 2019, 12:54 pm

Old people are most likely to share fake news on Facebook. They’re also Facebook’s fastest-growing U.S. audience.

People over age 65 are most likely to share fake news. Elderly Americans were most likely to share fake news around the election, even after controlling for political affiliation and ideology. Only a small percentage of people shared fake news in the first place, but those who did were likely to be over 65. The...
Posted: January 11, 2019, 12:00 pm

In France, a new magazine uses toilets to look at the world

In 2014, Aude Lalo started a blog about toilets. She called it Les Pisseuses (French slang that literally means “pissers,” but is used in a variety of contexts). She used the blog, initially, to review public restrooms in her native France. A Lyon bakery’s—“Welcome to Versailles!”—was among the good ones. A municipal toilet near Vannes […]
Posted: January 11, 2019, 12:00 pm

How nonprofit news outlets make a collaboration/syndication work

What’s in a partnership? (Or a collaboration? Or a syndication deal?) With the industry’s shrinking resources, news organizations — especially nonprofits, especially those trying to build a brand — are opting for sharing their work with other media more frequently. The Center for Cooperative Media’s database of collaborations, for example, has nearly 200 partnerships recorded,...
Posted: January 10, 2019, 4:02 pm

Breaking news that isn’t breaking, readers who aren’t reading: Some 2019 predictions about social media

Our end-of-year “Predictions for Journalism” package has grown and grown and grown since its first iteration back in 2011. For the 2019 iteration, we published more than 200, and it’s possible I am literally the only person alive to have read all of them. So over the next few days, we’ll be running what I’m...
Posted: January 10, 2019, 3:28 pm

Nearly a third of publishers agree: No one’s coming to help them

Every December, Nieman Lab asks media folks to predict what they think will happen in the new year — resulting in our annual predictions package, with more than 200 entries this year. (You can read them all individually, of course, or you can read our predictions playlists.) And then, if you want still more, check...
Posted: January 10, 2019, 12:01 am

Fewer nosy neighbors and data overlords: This German publisher is trying to build a hyperlocal social network

Dog poop and parking spot shortages: just local news things. These story topics might seem trivial individually but are the core of what matters to local communities — and local news consumers. It’s journalists listening for their questions and getting them answers. In 2014, Sebastian Penthin cofounded Lokalportal, a startup inspired by his hometown village’s...
Posted: January 9, 2019, 2:20 pm

Showing your work, reflecting your audience, and using the right tools: Some 2019 predictions about trust and transparency

Our end-of-year “Predictions for Journalism” package has grown and grown and grown since its first iteration back in 2011. For the 2019 iteration, we published more than 200, and it’s possible I am literally the only person alive to have read all of them. So over the next few days, we’ll be running what I’m...
Posted: January 9, 2019, 1:00 pm

A gloomy vision for “fake news” in 2019: Low-trust societies, the death of consensus, and your own lying eyes

Our end-of-year “Predictions for Journalism” package has grown and grown and grown since its first iteration back in 2011. For the 2019 iteration, we published more than 200, and it’s possible I am literally the only person alive to have read all of them. So today and over the next few days, we’ll be running...
Posted: January 8, 2019, 4:25 pm

These are the trends to watch for podcasting in 2019

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 190, published January 8, 2018. Happy new year, everyone! Let me begin by saying something that’s extremely typical: I spent a good deal of the holiday season either thinking about work or actually working. Which is to say, I totally vibe with what Anne...
Posted: January 8, 2019, 3:10 pm

Local public meetings are a scrape and a tap away, on City Bureau’s Documenters tool

Public meetings — now there’s an app for that. We’ve seen relationships between news organizations and news consumers expand from tossing in a few bucks for a subscription to chipping in a few more for the journalistic mission to even volunteering their services in support of the news cause. City Bureau’s Documenters program has taken...
Posted: January 8, 2019, 2:07 pm

The Dallas Morning News — still family controlled — shears its newsroom by 20

The Dallas Morning News, one of the largest remaining independently owned metro newspapers, announced it was laying off 43 staffers, 20 in its newsroom, Monday. The layoffs reach from senior writers to community reporters, with varying levels of time at the organization. The News is owned by A.H. Belo, which is publicly traded but still...
Posted: January 7, 2019, 9:07 pm

In 2018, push alerts featured less yelling and more thinking

More push alerts, less breaking news, less emoji: An analysis of 30 publishers’ mobile notifications shows that the infrastructure of alerts has stayed the same but newsroom managers are thinking differently about how to use them. In a follow-up study to a 2017 review, Columbia Journalism Review’s Pete Brown collected 1,510 mobile push alerts from...
Posted: January 4, 2019, 2:56 pm

2019: A year when fake news gets intimate and everyone disagrees on everything

What’s coming. Nieman Lab had 200 people in and around media to make predictions for 2019. Some misinformation-related highlights are below — along with fake-news related predictions and preparations for 2019 from other sources, so consider this a look at the year ahead. (Warning: People do not agree about anything.) Panic about deepfakes. Or don’t! Deepfakes...
Posted: January 4, 2019, 2:05 pm

Local news needs local conversation to survive

As 2019 approaches, anxiety about the future of the local press continues unabated. In most conversations about the fate of metro and local news media, the platforms’ near-total takeover of digital advertising comes in for the largest share of the blame. The recent push towards subscription and donation revenues at news organizations has given new...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:47 pm

Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

For 2019, and in light of all of the new reports on climate change from the IPCC and the U.S. government (which includes a chapter on Indigenous communities for the first time), I’m going to hopefully predict a turn towards new frames and approaches to reporting on climate change and Indigenous communities. The past decade...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:46 pm

From pageviews to impact

More collaboration With newsrooms cutting staff every day, we see a growing drive from journalists, designers, and developers who want to keep reporting on important issues but want to do so independently. We see journalists becoming entrepreneurs, getting together with designers and technologists to build new independent media projects that amplify a diversity of voices...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:45 pm

Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Sometimes democracies die in bright daylight. Despite the work of journalists globally, the slide into authoritarianism is gathering pace in many parts of the world, including a few Central European nations. And despite the urgency of generation-defining issues — from climate change to trade wars, from AI and designer babies to the growing gulf between...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:44 pm

The rise of vertical storytelling

The multimedia story that became a verb and whose name doesn’t need to be mentioned here is now six years old. The snow fell in December 2012. Since then, digital storytelling has changed radically — but that’s not because of the editors who invested in scrollytelling and offered opulent multimedia stories. They now also work...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:43 pm

Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

I believe subscriptions and memberships are a glint of good news in an otherwise troubled media landscape. They can be a revenue stream that more closely aligns the interest of publications and readers and, especially in the past two years, there seems to be awareness among readers that they get what they pay for when...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:42 pm

A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

2019 will be another terrible year for the business of news, and journalists will have to face the harsh reality that no one will come to their rescue — not benign billionaires, not platform companies, and not policymakers. Throughout 2019, we’ll see the continued decline of already much-diminished revenues from print (which still account for...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:41 pm

Unlocking the commons

For the last year, I’ve written a newsletter for, one of the last of the independent blogs still going. It’s funded by site memberships that support the main site and all of its subprojects, and by my personal Patreon. There is no paywall. Everything at is free for members and non-members alike. Here’s...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:40 pm

Correcting our corrections

In 2018, journalists faced accusations of all manner of malfeasance, from having an agenda to fabricating stories. Taking shots at the press isn’t new, but now it’s more than just harmless talk. Governments have imprisoned a record number of journalists around the world for publishing “fake news.” Self-censorship is on the rise. Reporters weather attacks,...
Posted: January 3, 2019, 7:40 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