Can the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ fix disinformation?

eam members assemble a puzzle during the problem solving phase of the "Whacky Relay" at the base track 2 May.
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Team members assemble a puzzle during the problem solving phase of the “Whacky Relay” at the base track 2 May. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

Thank goodness it’s Good Friday. In today’s newsletter, I highlight a project from my friend Claire Wardle that she hopes will allow researchers a new tool to fight disinformation. She is currently the director of Civic, the Coalition to Integrate Values Into the Information Commons , and she has proposed a project that she called:

“a Wikipedia of Trust,” a back-end contributor model where regular people could volunteer to flag, decipher, and catalog fake memes and bot activity, and add crucial cultural context to images and information that might be a zombie rumor.

“A Wild Plan to Crowdsource the Fight Against Misinformation”, Wired, by Emily Dreyfuss

It is the information equivalent of capturing virulent memes for study. The challenge as Claire highlights is that disinformation is moving from being out in the wild on the open web – or what remains of it – and public social networks to places hidden by algorithms and inside messaging platforms where they can spread in ways resistant to observation and rebuttal.

I also highlight CNN’s use of a new Snapchat service, called Curated Stories to cover breaking news. The tool has helped lure CNN back into Snap’s Discover. Will this be enough to stem Snap’s slide? I doubt it because what might be useful for media won’t necessarily address the fundamental user issues that Snap has.

Apart from those two big stories, we also have:

The ad tech bubble may be about to burst. US newspapers are struggling for cash in the rush consolidation. Sift launches ‘news therapy’ app. New media investment fund for LatAm. UK Telegraph aims for 1m subs.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next week.

If you spot a good story about the business of media, especially digital, feel free to send it to me @kevglobal on Twitter. If you don’t get my international media newsletter in your inbox, you can get a taste of it and subscribe here

The Pivot to Paid in Podcasting and Vulture Fund, Alden Global, Under Investigation

The front view of what once was the the USA Today/Gannett Building in McLean, Virginia. It still houses USAToday and Gannett, but also Tegna, the former broadcasting division of Gannett, which was spun off in 2015.

The front view of what once was the the USA Today/Gannett Building in McLean, Virginia. It still houses USAToday and Gannett, but also Tegna, the former broadcasting division of Gannett, which was spun off in 2015. Photo: Patrick Neil, Wikimedia Commons

Right, it’s been a busy day in my newsroom as we handle the release of the Mueller Report, redacted, but still full of interesting tidbits. If you want to get a searchable version, let me recommend going to The Bulwark, an interesting site and podcast from some Never Trump US conservatives.

Now back to what we do here: Filter out the daily news and noise and get to the international media intelligence that you need. On days like this, it is actually harder. (Tomorrow will be even more challenging, but I’ve already got some great reads queued up.) I have two top stories in today’s newsletter.

  1. What the pivot to paid content means for podcasting , Digiday
  2. And news that the vulture fund, Alden Global Capital, wanting to buy Gannett (a former employer) is under federal investigation for investing nearly $250 m of its newspaper employee money in its own funds. (WaPo $$)

In addition to my two top stories, we also have:

The science of why humans are so susceptible to misinformation. How anti-Muslim disinformation spread after the Notre Dame fire. Journalists have nothing to fear from AI in the newsroom. Chinese Android apps from big developer committed ad fraud.

If you spot a good story about the business of media, especially digital, feel free to send it to me @kevglobal on Twitter. If you don’t get my international media newsletter in your inbox, you can get a taste of it and subscribe here

Zuckerberg’s Magical Garden of Horrors Has Another Bad Day

The statue of a dinosaur eating a smaller dinosaur.A metaphor for yet another bad day at Facebook.

A dino has dinner. A metaphor for yet another bad day at Facebook. Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels

Pick your adjective or metaphor when it comes to Facebook’s current run of horrible, awful, no good press. And this isn’t just an optics or PR thing. Facebook is embattled because it has:

  1. Screwed up, repeatedly.
  2. Can’t or won’t, or a mix of both, seem to fix its problems.
  3. And is in a footrace with Trump’s West Wing in terms of a petty, backstabbing leakfest.

In the newsletter today, we highlight a couple of stories yesterday that make for yet another shitty day in Zucklandia. Wired dropped a story with 65 sources talking about “15 months of fresh hell” at the anti-social behaviour network. And NBC reported a leak of thousands of documents that show that Facebook used data to reward its friends and punish or at least kneecap potential competitors. The second story is the kind of stuff that would instantly see Facebook in anti-trust court if the US actually enforced anti-trust laws anymore. Oh Europe, where are you when the world needs you?

But that’s not all today, we also have:

Scandi publishing giant Schibsted joins complaint against Apple’s app dominance. Vox Media acquires publisher with history of turning journalism into movie deals. Publishers turn to ‘expert networks’. UX lessons still be learned from print.

If you spot a good story about the business of media, especially digital, feel free to send it to me @kevglobal on Twitter. If you don’t get my international media newsletter in your inbox, you can get a taste of it and subscribe here

 

Can US Public Media Buying News Startups Stem the Crisis in Local Journalism?

A mic with the NPR (National Public Radio) flag at their headquarters in Washington DC.

A mic with the NPR (National Public Radio) flag at their headquarters in Washington DC. by Ted Eytan, Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

I wrote about public media groups in the US buying digital local news sites last month for What’s New in Publishing last month after Colorado Public Radio bought Spirited Media’s Denverite. This isn’t really a new trend with St. Louis Public Radio buying the St. Louis Beacon more than five years ago, but we have more examples recently. And now with Philadelphia’s WHYY buying Spirited Media’s original site, Billy Penn, we have another example of this interesting effort by public media groups to scale their digital audiences and ambitions through acquisition.

In my international media newsletter today, we have a couple of pieces looking at the acquisition as well as this in a jam-packed edition:

What will journalists do with the 5G wireless? LSE research role to study AI and news. NYT CEO: Publishers can’t build business model on cuts. Drone journalism tips and more (including Vice’s latest sign of weakness and lack of focus).

If you spot a good story about the business of media, especially digital, feel free to send it to me @kevglobal on Twitter.

If you don’t get my international media newsletter in your inbox, you can get a taste of it and subscribe here

 

Why freelancers should start a podcast Plus networking or introverts

Shy Greek Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago

Shy Greek Sculpture, by Alan Levine, from Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

Good Monday morning! In my international media newsletter today, we hear from my friend Suchandrika Chakrabarti on 7 reasons a freelance journalist should start a podcast. I met her when I was doing consulting and training for her former employer, then Trinity-Mirror, now Reach in the UK. It’s a great post, and I think if you have love audio and have a niche that you’re passionate about, podcasts can be a great addition to a freelancer’s repertoire.

Apart from other industry news today, we also have another bit of sage, actionable advice: If you’re an introvert attending a media festival for the first time, this is for you. Janie Octia of Splice, which aims to become the Nieman Lab/Digiday of Southeast Asia, gives advice for how to get the most out of media conferences if you’re not an extroverted über-networker. I raise my hand to that. I’ve had to learn networking. It didn’t come naturally to me. I still struggle to break the ice, but once I do, I found that I best understand networking (or blogging) as sharing mutual professional passions.

If you don’t get my international media newsletter, you can get a taste of it and subscribe here

The State of Media: Blind Men Looking at an Elephant

Blind monks examining an elephant, an ukiyo-e print by Hanabusa Itchō

Blind monks examining an elephant, an ukiyo-e print by Hanabusa Itchō, Public Domain, from Wikimedia

I’m slightly introspective and philosophical after putting together today’s newsletter, and I’m reminded about the old parable of blind men describing an elephant by touch. We all speak from our own limited experience and perspective, and that governs what we see.

Has the publishing industry got its mojo back – at least when it comes in pushing back against the big tech platforms – as Jason Kint of Digital Content Next argues? And is this going to lead to a media renaissance? Or is it depressing to be an investigative journalist in an era where crushing student debt limits limit who can operate in that space? And a number of experienced journalists have had to leave the field due to job cuts? Both things can be true. There are green shoots of optimism and growth, especially at national outlets, but in a lot of markets and especially at the local level, it’s tough to be a journalist, investigative or otherwise.

I hope you enjoy today’s dose of Hegelian dialectic. (There is a much longer story about that, but you’ll have to buy me a beer or wait for the book. Yes, there will be a book.) There is a couple of duelling views on the arrest of Julian Assange. And as VR hype cools at media groups, it is being replaced by AR hype.

To subscribe to the newsletter, it’s over here. Have a great weekend.

Austrian Publisher Finds Secret to Video Revenue

The homepage of Austria's Die PresseIn today’s newsletter, we look to Austria. Pivot to video became a much-maligned strategy, especially for digital pure plays that were focused on video as a way to grow organically on Facebook with the idea that they could somehow, some way monetise that audience. Nope. But now, Die Presse in Austria has found some new tricks that are at least driving revenue for their video efforts, Digiday reports. (I’m wary of saying something is profitable just because it earns money.) And that revenue came after six years of losses. Two of the tactics for the turnaround:

  • Autoplay but muted sound
  • They now add video to their own stories as well as licence it elsewhere using video platform Video Intelligence. That increased pre-roll impressions from 300,000 to 31 m.

In the rest of the newsletter, we have:

How Charleston paper grew subs by 250%. The best mobile journalism apps of 2019. The New York Times will sell ads based on the emotional response to an article. Facebook changes the News Feed in attempt to stop disinformation. What revenue streams work?

To get this directly in your inbox, subscribe here.

 

Newsletters are the “zero subscription”

The word newsletter on a page typed on an old typewriter. Photo by George Hodan, Public Domain

The word newsletter on a page typed on an old typewriter. Photo by George Hodan, Public Domain

At the risk of sounding repetitive, in today’s newsletter, I highlight newsletters. I am incredibly focused on this in my current role because of the overwhelming evidence that this is one of the best ways to growth subscriptions or membership. Today, we have another data point from Switzerland and NZZ. From a review of their efforts in Digiday:

The publisher has a data science team of nine people working on propensity models. A recent analysis looking at all registered users over the last eight months found that those who had signed up to two or more newsletters have the highest subscription conversion rate.

I was at the Google News Initiative Summit a couple of weeks ago, and one of their product managers called newsletters the “zero subscription” because their data has shown it is the most important first step that content companies can take in their efforts to grow subscribers and members. I’ll have more about that in my next piece for What’s New in Publishing.

And if you aren’t signed up for my newsletter, you can subscribe here.