Café Journalism

Adams Publishing & “Hyper-Local News”

February 12, 2019

Poynter:

“Who are the Adams family, and why are they buying newspapers by the dozen? Barely three years old, Minneapolis-based Adams has assembled a group of more than 100 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers in at least 15 separate transactions. In contrast to other big consolidators, they often leave existing management in place, do not impose cookie-cutter content templates, and do not start by stripping down newsrooms of editors and reporters. The bare-bones Adams Publishing website lists no main office executives or a phone number. Press releases about the series of acquisitions do not list an Adams contact. Estimates put the family’s net worth north of a billion dollars. In 2005, Steve Adams and his wife donated $100 million to the Yale School of Music. Minneapolis Star Tribune publisher Mike Klingensmith told me he had never heard of any of them until Adams Publishing began buying suburban weeklies in a ring around the Minneapolis metro in 2016.

The attraction of newspapers? Adams mentions that they are out of favor and available at “low valuation multiples.” Local brands and exclusive local content have a bright future, Adams said. (His presentation makes no mention of digital, and the company’s website is illustrated with a stack of newspapers).

In talking to the Inland group, Mark let drop that his is a “third-generation media family.” His grandfather, Cedric Adams, was a big local celebrity when I was growing up in Minneapolis with a popular radio show, a column in the Minneapolis Star and a lucrative sideline voicing national TV and radio ads.”

Who are the Adams family, and why are they buying newspapers by the dozen?

2.10.19

“Adams Publishing Group is launching a new Idaho newspaper in Bingham County, 5-days-per-week, Tuesday-Friday & Sunday. The Bingham County Chronicle will serve Aberdeen, Shelley, Firth, Fort Hall, Blackfoot and other towns, focusing on ‘hyper-local’ news. The announcement comes as many newspapers across the country have folded. But the downward trend in the news media economy is affecting organizations in larger markets more than community newspapers, said Eric Johnston, Adams Publishing Group’s west division president.”

~

‘Adams has raised funds for Republican Party candidates. He reportedly contributed over $1 (m) dollars of billboard advertising (through his Adams Outdoor Advertising business) to support Georg W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign [wikipedia].’ https://adamspg.com


TV stations should focus more on depth and emotion in stories, study suggests

The study found, “The conventional wisdom is that news consumers want increasingly short, quickly digestible content. While this may be true in some contexts, our panel survey respondents offered a more complex picture of audience preferences on the spectrum of efficiency to depth. Indeed, asked to describe what their ideal local news program would look like, respondents fairly consistently chose depth over efficiency.”

The study included viewers with an average age of 34 from six TV markets.

  • WLS in Chicago (market No. 3)

  • KNXV in Phoenix (market No. 12)

  • WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina (market No. 23)

  • WTVD in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina (market No. 25)

  • WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island (market No. 53)

  • WAFB in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (market No. 97)

In most cases, the most emotional parts of the stories were moved higher in the pieces and the remixed stories included more context than the originals.

The survey tested a story from WLS-Chicago about the Facebook data breach. The original story included soundbites with the state attorney general. The remix included some soundbites with two “Facebook users” who didn’t add any new information but did add some emotion to the story.  The remix also added moving graphics and a sort of “splat” sound on maps that — while it would make a lot of newspeople’s skin crawl — didn’t turn off the viewers the researchers head from.

The Aspen Institute & Knight Foundation

February 7, 2019

News organization, technology companies, citizens must take resposnsibility for restoring trust in democracy.

It is a daunting task that the Commission has undertaken, and none, in our minds, could be more important. 

It is a daunting task that the Commission has undertaken, and none, in our minds, could be more important. What should Americans do to restore trust in our democratic republic and the media that serve it and us? More specifically, what can our leaders, our media and our citizens do to better understand the ‘other,’ to distinguish between truth and disinformation and to govern ourselves fairly and effectively?

This Commission report focuses on the intersection of the distrust in American democratic institutions and in the journalistic media. These are difficult times, calling for strong responses to the dilemmas set forth below.

-The co-chairs

http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/Knight-Commission-TMD/2019/report

~
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

~

The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas.

 

 

 

Our voices were heard.

February 6, 2019

Good news:

Yesterday [2.5.19], Facebook removed 22 pages connected to hateful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his fringe right-wing website InfoWars.

Thank you for signing our petition calling on Facebook to do just that.

This is a win for all of us working to end online hate-speech! Thank you for your help in making this happen.

In addition to our work to hold social-media platforms accountable for protecting users from online hate, we at Free Press are also working to hold mainstream media to a higher standard.

We need a free press. We also need a press that doesn’t replicate the racist and xenophobic stereotypes about communities of color and immigrants that make up the DT administration’s talking points. We need journalism that calls racism what it is, disavows White nationalism and empowers the voices of journalists and editors of color as well as the communities being reported on.

Thanks for all that you do.

The Free Press team

“Facebook Removes 22 More Pages Connected to Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones and InfoWars,” CNN, Feb. 5, 2019.

https://act.freepress.net/go/30619?t=8&akid=12157%2E10632545%2E3Vvn2Z

freepress.net

January 28, 2019

“It’s hard not to see this as a metaphor for mass media/journalism.” [twitter]

January 26, 2019

Washington Post

“Johns Hopkins University is buying the landmark [Pennsylvania Avenue] building that houses the Newseum for $372.5 million, a purchase that will enable the struggling cultural institution devoted to news and the First Amendment to seek a new home in the Washington area.”

“The Freedom Forum — the private foundation that created the Newseum and that is its primary funder — said the museum will remain open at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW for the rest of the year.”

“The Newseum posted an annual deficit each year.”

Peter Prichard, chair of the Newseum board of trustees said in a release.

“We stand ready to continue much of the Newseum’s important work … through digital outreach, traveling exhibits, and web-based programs in schools around the world, as well as hopefully in a new physical home in the area.”

The Atlantic

by, Adam Harris

“The university, which already has a significant presence in Washington, D.C., hopes to expand its influence in public-policy debates—and entice prospective students with another reason to enroll.

Making this acquisition possible is a string of wealthy donors that the university has been cultivating for some time. Daniels confirmed that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and a Johns Hopkins alum, will be contributing to the purchase. The remainder of the money will come from the university’s budget and the sale of the institution’s other four properties in the city. Daniels did not disclose how much financial support the university will be receiving from Bloomberg, who has donated billions of dollars to Johns Hopkins over the years and announced a $1.8 billion donation to the school in November.”

The Newseum will remain open to the public through 2019.

Needed: Informed Thinkers

January 22, 2019

[updated 1.23.19]

“Another brutal day for journalism.”

[Poynter]

by, Tom Jones

“Gannett began slashing jobs all across the country Wednesday in a cost-cutting move that was anticipated even before the recent news that a hedge-fund company was planning to buy the chain.”

Gannett lays off journalists across the country

~

A Hedge Fund Known for ‘Milking’ Newspapers

Takes Aim at Gannett

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-14/hedge-fund-known-for-milking-newspapers-takes-aim-at-gannett?fbclid=IwAR1-HsPAq_9srNYCI91f2GE-Jck7vKGm30a4DU-IMCL8qAc-54Qrf8OyBvk

~

Does Journalism Have a Future?

In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face.


The New Yorker

Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper’s size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn’t enough.

Between January, 2017, and April, 2018, a third of the nation’s largest newspapers, including the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, reported layoffs.

Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards. In 1986, the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle bought the Worcester Telegram and the Evening Gazette, and, three years later, right about when Time and Warner became Time Warner, the Telegram and the Gazette became

“We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news,” Alan Rusbridger, for twenty years the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, writes in “Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.

The big book that inspired Jill Abramson to become a journalist was David Halberstam’sThe Powers That Be,” from 1979, a history of the rise of the modern, corporate-based media in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his reporting from Vietnam for the New York Times, took up his story more or less where Villard left off. He began with F.D.R. and CBS radio; added the Los Angeles Times, Time Inc., and CBS television; and reached his story’s climax with the Washington Post and the New York Times and the publication of the Pentagon Papers, in 1971.

In 1969, Nixon’s Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, delivered a speech drafted by the Nixon aide Pat Buchanan accusing the press of liberal bias. It’s “good politics for us to kick the press around,” Nixon is said to have told his staff. The press, Agnew said, represents “a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history,” consisting of men who “read the same newspapers” and “talk constantly to one another.”

The present crisis, which is nothing less than a derangement of American life, has caused many people in journalism to make decisions they regret, or might yet. In the age of Facebook, Chartbeat, and DT, legacy news organizations, hardly less than startups, have violated or changed their editorial standards in ways that have contributed to political chaos and epistemological mayhem. Do editors sit in a room on Monday morning, twirl the globe, and decide what stories are most important? Or do they watch DT’s Twitter feed and let him decide? It often feels like the latter. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger; it makes everyone sick. The more adversarial the press, the more loyal DT’s followers, the more broken American public life. The more desperately the press chases readers, the more our press resembles our politics.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/28/does-journalism-have-a-future?utm_medium=social&utm_brand=tny&utm_source=twitter&utm_social-type=owned&mbid=social_twitter


This book by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols (2011) is an important read as pretext to Lapore’s piece.

“Journalism cannot lose 30 percent of its reporting and editing capacity and continue to provide the information needed to maintain a realistic democratic discourse,  open government and outlines of civil society at the federal, state and local levels.”

The United States is not experiencing a brief recession for journalism as the silliest commentator continue to suggest; newsrooms will not be repopulated, let along restored to their previous vigor, with an economic recovery. Instead it is an existential crisis, one decades in the making and as we argue heron, it goes directly to the issue of whether this nation can remain a democratic state with liberties and freedoms many take for granted.

The crisis is right here, right now and unless there is forceful policy intervention, an unacceptable circumstance will grow dramatically worse.

In our view the evidence is overwhelming: If Americans are serious about reversing course and dramatically explained and improving journalism, the only way this can happen is with massive public subsidies.

The market is not getting it done, and there is no reason to think it is going to get it done. It will require a huge expansion of the nonprofit news media sector as well. It is imperative to discontinue the practice of regarding journalism as a “business” and evaluating it with business criteria. Instead, embracing the public good nature of journalism is necessary. That is the argument we make in this book.

If the U.S. government subsidized journalism today at the same level of GDP that it did in the 1840’s, the government would have to spend in the neighborhood of $30-35 billion annually. Subsidies are as American as maple pie; indeed, our democratic culture was built on them.

We met with a group of exceptional journalism students wo had read the book and wanted to talk about our proposals. They especially liked our proposal for a ‘Journalism for America’ initiative that would provide young people with stipends to cover underserved communities in the United States. By the end of the dinner they had framed out a plan for linking the ‘Journalism for America’ initiative to the Peace Corps so that young journalists could cover an immigrant community in the United States for a year and then travel wit the Peace Corps to foreign lands with connections to the American communities.

We came away with confidence that, when this great debate opens up, as it has begun to do, American journalism and American democracy will flourish.”

Ed Madison and Ben DeJarnette (2018) write,

“Fundamentally, journalists and teachers have similar roles within a society. They exist to educate us so we can collectively move our communities forward. Yet crises within K-12 education haunt our society’s future prospects: if we’re not raising generations of young people who are thoughtful and informed participants in our democratic process, then the future of journalism–and democracy–is very dark indeed.

The objective is not to spawn future journalists; the intent is to support students with becoming what we refer to as informed thinkers. Educators often speak about cultivating critical thinking, yet the term remains as elusive concept that does not fully encompass the levels of student engagement that young people need to navigate effectively in this increasingly complex and nuanced world.

Informed thinking articulates a clearer method and result than does critical thinking. Students learn to distinguish fact from fiction and to detect biases and agendas.

Our need to improve education is not optional; it is an obligation we must embrace.”


Wonderful book for reference and U.S. history, by Jill Lapore.


Journalist Marguerite Martyn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made this sketch of herself interviewing a Methodist minister in 1908 for his views on marriage.

 

Outside the matrix.

January 20, 2019

 

“I keep coming back to a tweet from the Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who wrote:  “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” Mr. Kasparov understands that the real threat of the flood of “alternative facts” is that many voters will simply shrug, ask, “What is truth?” and, like Pontius Pilate, not wait for an answer.”

The Aspen Institute re-publishes a piece from American Magazine in 2017 from an Aspen Ideas Festival that same year with Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor and former conservative talk show host, currently editor-in-chief of the website The Bulwark.

“We might assume that people naturally want to seek out information that is true, but this turns out to be a basic misunderstanding of the human psyche and our new tribal politics. The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes the power of tribalism in shaping our ideas about truth. “Once people join a political team,” he writes in The Righteous Mind, “they get ensnared in its moral matrix. They see confirmation of their grand narrative everywhere, and it’s difficult — perhaps impossible — to convince them that they are wrong if you argue with them from outside the matrix.” 

Mr. Haidt also cites the work of his fellow social psychologist Tom Gilovich, who studies the cognitive mechanisms of strange beliefs. If we want to believe something, Mr. Gilovich says, we ask, “Can I believe it?” and we need only a single piece of evidence, no matter its provenance, so “we can stop thinking” because we “now have permission to believe” what we want. The flip side is that when we are confronted with uncomfortable or unwanted information that we do not want to believe, we ask, “Must I believe?” and look for a reason to reject the argument or fact. Again, only a single piece of data is necessary “to unlock the handcuffs of must.”

The only antidote is an educated, critically minded electorate who can see through the hoaxes.”

Yes, absolutely. However, a deeper more complex follow-up question: is this a reasonable expectation, or possibility, in context of confirmation biases and deeper polarizations?

full article: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/truth-matter-no-longer-theoretical-question/


“And the fourth cycle (of computers), which is now arriving, shifts direction from the previous two (which were about connection more than processors) and brings prediction to the table. Call it AI if you want to, but to be specific, it’s a combination of analyzing information and then predicting what we would do if we knew what the computer knew.

The prediction of the fourth cycle isn’t simply done in a centralized location, because the previous cycle put the computer everywhere. So now, we’re connecting all the computers the way we previously connected all the people. Now, we’re giving those computers the ability to make predictions based on what thousands of people before us have done.”

-Seth Godin

Entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age, teacher and former dot com guy.

“We still have a lot to learn before 2020.”

January 16, 2019

Stanford World Class

Former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos (now at Stanford) discusses Russia’s election interference and the use of pure propaganda techniques. Much of the spotlight on Big Tech is warranted. However, Stamos also argues that our government, the media, and we as citizens all have a role to play in the security of our elections.” #MSM

“To block Russian propaganda during 2016 really Facebook would have had to block the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.”

Tech companies have failed in a lot of ways, but there was a lot of misplaced raged by main stream media against tech companies because they have not dealt with their own failings in 2016. […] They’re not writing stories about their editorial decisions, but those decisions were critical.”

Attorney General Nominee William Barr

January 15, 2019

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar: “Will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?”

William Barr: “I can conceive of situations where as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag…there could be a situation where someone would be held in contempt.”

Also, Barr stated today he would not fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller at the president’s order unless there was ’cause.’ And ’cause’ is defined as…?

1st Amendment

I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


ACLU in reaction to Barr’s comment on jailing journalists:

Wrong answer.

The freedom of the press is a bedrock of democratic principle. Under no circumstance should the government put journalists in jail for doing their job.”

 

“After much thought, what I would be willing to die for, and give my life to, is the freedom of speech. It is the open door to all other freedoms.”

Terry Tempest Williams

Free Press

January 14, 2019

From Digital Free Press:

Digital First Media — which is notorious for gutting local newsrooms to turn a profit for its hedge-fund owners — is trying to buy Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher.1

The owners of Digital First have been called “vulture capitalists” by journalists in their own newsrooms.2 The company has censored journalists’ work and fired reporters3 who criticize their ruthless tactics — which are designed to pad the bottom line.

Tell Gannett’s board: Support your newsrooms and the communities they serve. Don’t sell to Digital First Media.

In recent years, more and more private-equity companies have been buying up newspapers, slashing jobs, turning newsrooms into shells of their former selves and spending profits on anything BUT journalism.4

This isn’t just bad for newsrooms: It also spells doom for millions of people around the country who rely on their local newspapers to find out what’s happening. When local news disappears, fewer people participate in their communities.5

And while Gannett itself has a questionable track record when it comes to investing in news, if the company sells to Digital First it will decimate news coverage in thousands of communities across the United States.

As one journalist noted, if Digital First Media is “knocking on the door, you should lock the deadbolt.”6

Shareholders will pressure Gannett’s board to let the vultures in the door. We can’t let that happen. Take action today to support communities around the country by protecting local news.

For the future of local news,

Mike, Heather, Candace and the rest of the Free Press team
freepress.net

P.S. Digital First Media’s bid for Gannett will decimate local coverage of communities around the country. Tell Gannett’s board to reject this bid.

Ezra Klein

January 7, 2019

Too few named journalists have a thorough and deep knowledge of American history, even brilliant contemporary journalists, like Ezra Klein, which he acknowledges in this  important podcast with Jill Lapore.

Jill Lapore’s new book, These Truths, A History of the United States [2018], is a one volume tomb far more complex and contemporarily contextualized study of American History than Howard Zinn’s well-known and beloved A People’s History of the United States [1980]. Recommending this book and podcast.

From Ezra:

Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, and the author of These Truths, a dazzling one-volume synthesis of American history. She’s the kind of history teacher everyone wishes they’d had, able to effortlessly connect the events and themes of American history to make sense of our past and clarify our present.

“The American Revolution did not begin in 1775 and it didn’t end when the war was over,” Lepore writes. This is a conversation about those revolutions. But more than that, it’s a conversation about who we are as a country, and how that self-definition is always contested and constantly in flux.

And beyond all that, Lepore is just damn fun to talk to. Every answer she gives has something worth chewing over for weeks. You’ll enjoy this one.

Recommended books:

Fear Itself by Ira Katznelson

A Godly Hero by Michael Kazin

The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson

Focused on 2019.


The first woman to head CBS News announced.

NPR: “The legendary CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky will replace David Rhodes as the president of CBS News in March, the network announced Sunday evening.

Rhodes’ decision to step down follows a tenure of great change and great turmoil, marked by shifts in personnel and formats, along with bumpy ratings and searing scandal.”

“The world we cover is changing, how we cover it is changing, and it’s the right time for me to make a change too,” Rhodes wrote in a statement.

“Zirinsky, most recently the senior executive producer of the true-crime-driven newsmagazine 48 Hours, will be the first woman to head CBS News. She has held significant roles at almost every element throughout the news division. She was a producer of CBS Evening News and has led the network’s coverage of the White House.”

NYTimes: “The surprising announcement was the latest major personnel change for CBS, which also forced out Leslie Moonves, the company’s longtime chief executive, in September after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.”

[…]

“In a Sunday night email to the staff, the acting CBS chief executive, Joe Ianniello, said that Mr. Rhodes “decided the time is right to move on to new opportunities.”

“Of Ms. Zirinsky, he wrote, “I can think of no one more equipped than ‘Z’ for the job, and we are delighted she has welcomed these new responsibilities.”

[…]

“Ms. Zirinsky, 66, has been with CBS News for more than 40 years and has touched almost every part of the division, from its morning show to its evening newscast and its coverage of the White House before joining ’48 Hours’ in 1996. She was the inspiration for Holly Hunter’s character in the 1987 movie ‘Broadcast News.'”


Journalist Jay Rosen:

“Over the last few days, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that, without intervention, coverage of the 2020 campaign is likely to be a disaster for everyone except DT and his core voters, who want to watch it all burn anyway.”

POLITICO [Twitter]:

“How does Elizabeth Warren avoid a Clinton redux — written off as too unlikable before her campaign gets off the ground?”

Community Cafe: “By media/publications writing better perspectives than this one. You guys didn’t learn much. Be better. Compassionate. And wise.”

Warren battles the ghosts of Hillary

“In interviews with POLITICO, advisers and allies project confidence that perceptions of her as cold or aloof will fade once people see her campaign.” 

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/31/elizabeth-warren-hillary-clinton-1077008

Jay Rosen: “Hallelujah. on campaign journalism in the 2020 election: ‘It is our job — all of our job — to do better this time around.'”

[clip]

Community Cafe: “Thank you, Chris. Excellent. We must.”

#

Newseum

The Newseum in Washington DC displays more than 2,000 newspapers worldwide each day. Just follow the link below.

Today’s Front Pages

Journalism Elitism

December 21, 2018

The rise of paywalls means that high quality information will funnel to elites: As the digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, it’s becoming evident that digital ad dollars will continue to flow primarily to tech platforms rather than news publishers.

“There is a growing gap in public knowledge between the information-rich and the information-poor,” says Rodney Benson, chair of NYU’s Department of Media.

[reposted from AXIOS]


“In October, the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism released a study that estimated that a full 20 percent of all local newspapers have gone out of business or merged since 2004. Since then, an additional 1,300-plus communities in the United States have found themselves without any news source about their own city, town, or county. “Our sense of community and our trust in democracy at all levels suffer when journalism is lost or diminished,” the authors of the report wrote. “In an age of fake news and divisive politics, the fate of communities across the country—and of grassroots democracy itself—is linked to the vitality of local journalism.”

AP/2018

The State of the 4th Estate

December 20, 2018

AP

“The number of journalists killed worldwide in retaliation for their work nearly doubled this year, according to an annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.”

  • “34 journalists were killed in retaliation for their work, … while at least 53 were killed overall. That compares to 18 retaliation killings among the 47 deaths documented by the committee in 2017.”
  • “[J]ournalists have died in combat or crossfire, or on other dangerous assignments. The deadliest country for journalists this year has been Afghanistan, where 13 journalists were killed.”
  • “[T]he imprisonment of journalists has [also] been on the rise.”

“Media freedom group Reporters Without Borders said … the U.S. made it into the top five deadliest countries for journalists this year for the first time, with six dying, including four who were among five people killed by a gunman who opened fire in the offices of Maryland newspaper Capital Gazette.”

The Fresno Bee and the War on Local News

Local newspapers like The Fresno Bee have long been an endangered institution in America, and that was before California Rep. Devin Nunes began waging a public campaign against his hometown paper. Zach Baron spent time with the reporters fighting to keep news alive in an age when the forces they cover are working equally hard to destroy them.

“In October, the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism released a study that estimated that a full 20 percent of all local newspapers have gone out of business or merged since 2004. Since then, an additional 1,300-plus communities in the United States have found themselves without any news source about their own city, town, or county. “Our sense of community and our trust in democracy at all levels suffer when journalism is lost or diminished,” the authors of the report wrote. “In an age of fake news and divisive politics, the fate of communities across the country—and of grassroots democracy itself—is linked to the vitality of local journalism.”

https://www.gq.com/story/fresno-bee-and-war-on-local-news/amp?__twitter_impression=true

New owners of local news franchises are lest invested in local news: Industry economics have prioritized national news over local.

  • A study from Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy earlier this year found that only 17% of news stories in a community are actually local, meaning they’re actually about or having taken place within a municipality.
  • And less than half of the news stories (43%) provided to a community by local media outlets are original.
  • This is often because holding groups are consolidating resources, forcing local reporters to focus on national stories that reach bigger audiences.

The rise of paywalls means that high quality information will funnel to elites: As the digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, it’s becoming evident that digital ad dollars will continue to flow primarily to tech platforms rather than news publishers.

  • Because of this, publishers are setting up paywalls (subscriptions, members, etc.) to survive. And while more Americans say they are willing to pay for news, those with higher levels of education are more likely to do so. In all, 66% of adults with a college degree pay for news, compared to 43% of people with a high school diploma or less.
  • “There is a growing gap in public knowledge between the information-rich and the information-poor,” says Rodney Benson, chair of NYU’s Department of Media.

  • Benson cites other Westernized countries that have less of an information gap because of widely-available publicly-funded broadcast television. Examples include the BBC in the U.K., SVT in Sweden or ZDF/ARD in Germany.

What’s next? The death of local news in rural America is expected to accelerate.

[AXIOS]

“Increasingly, journalism serves as a powerful force for exclusion, for keeping quality information away from those who need it most, for discouraging anyone but the richest, most educated citizens from participating in the public conversation.”

— Rodney Benson, chair of NYU’s Department of Media Culture & Communication

‘Risks in pursuit of greater truths.’

December 11, 2018

[CNN Business]

“For taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and for speaking out, the Guardians” are the Person of the Year, Time editor Ed Felsenthal wrote.

“As we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories.” he said.

DT, not coincidentally, was the runner-up for this year’s Person of the Year title. Special counsel Robert Mueller ranked No. 3.

Karl Vick, the author of the Time’s cover story about “The Guardians,” wrote that   “this ought to be a time when democracy leaps forward, an informed citizenry being essential to self-government. Instead, it’s in retreat.”

 

[Washington Post]

And “the story of this assault on truth is, somewhat paradoxically, one of the hardest to tell,” he added. Asked last month whom he thought Time would name, he consulted his well-thumbed narcissist’s handbook:

“I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump,” he responded to a reporter’s question. “Can you imagine anybody else other than Trump?”

Well, yes, the editors responded, and with inspiration.

 

[ACLU]

“The freedom of the press is one of our most core democratic principles. Today and always we are reminded about the importance of that freedom. And to the journalists fighting to protect it: We’ve got your back.”

Local journalism.

December 6, 2018

The Charlotte Observer’s reporting on election fraud is indicative of our need for local journalism, investigative reporting…specifically newspapers…and the role of the 4th Estate, a free press.

NC election scandal probe focuses on Charlotte-area political consultant

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article222690460.html

In response to “At center of voter fraud scandal, a convicted felon and ‘grassroots’ campaigner” :

It looks like the electoral fraud we’ve been searching for the past few years has been found in Bladen County. But as it turns out, it has nothing to do with non-citizens voting, someone hacking the voting machines or people impersonating other voters because NC doesn’t require ID.

Assuming the evidence holds up, the real problem is old-fashioned vote theft happening in razor-close elections and carried out by people getting paid out of a candidate’s campaign funds. It’s the real thing, and it has nothing to do with voter ID.

Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The McClatchy Company is a publicly traded American publishing company based in Sacramento, California, and incorporated in Delaware.[2] It operates 29 daily newspapers in fourteen states and has an average weekday circulation of 1.6 million and Sunday circulation of 2.4 million. [wikipedia]

https://www.mcclatchy.com


As ubiquitous as connectivity may seem for those who live in cities or suburbs with comfortable incomes, here’s the reality:

  • Less than one-fifth of Americans live in a neighborhood where at least 80% of the residents have broadband, according to a report last year from the Brookings Institution.
  • Nearly one-in-five teens are sometimes unable to complete homework because of lack of a reliable computer or internet connection, per Pew.
  • Local news and information is becoming scarce and hard to access: More than 500 newspapers have closed or merged in rural communities since 2004.

The big picture: There are two types of “digital divide” operating today:

  • The geographic divide: Rural and other areas are underserved because it doesn’t make financial sense for companies to invest in infrastructure.
  • The economic divide: Infrastructure is in place, but lower-income families lack affordable access and devices.

Why it matters: These divides are colliding and combining in troubling ways — and creating a whole spectrum of education, information and privacy inequality.


The media haves and have nots.

  • A record number of newspaper sales and closures/mergersvia the seven biggest newspaper investment owners have increased over the past five years.
  • Only 17% of local news stories in a community are actually local, meaning they’re about or having taken place within a municipality, per a study from Duke earlier this year.
  • While more people say they are willing to pay for news, those with higher levels of education are more likely to do so, per a study from the American Press Institute.

Between the lines: Benson says finding ways to create a plurality in types of news ownership will help to decrease the growing information gap in the U.S.

The bottom line: There’s a real news and information divide between rural and urban/suburban communities as well as between the poor and rich in the United States.

“Increasingly, journalism serves as a powerful force for exclusion, for keeping quality information away from those who need it most, for discouraging anyone but the richest, most educated citizens from participating in the public conversation.”
— Rodney Benson, chair of NYU’s Department of Media Culture, and Communication
[Axios]

Digital Divide.

As ubiquitous as connectivity may seem for those who live in cities or suburbs with comfortable incomes, here’s the reality:

  • Less than one-fifth of Americans live in a neighborhood where at least 80% of the residents have broadband, according to a report last year from the Brookings Institution.
  • Nearly one-in-five teens are sometimes unable to complete homework because of lack of a reliable computer or internet connection, per Pew.
  • Local news and information is becoming scarce and hard to access: More than 500 newspapers have closed or merged in rural communities since 2004.

The big picture: There are two types of “digital divide” operating today:

  • The geographic divide: Rural and other areas are underserved because it doesn’t make financial sense for companies to invest in infrastructure.
  • The economic divide: Infrastructure is in place, but lower-income families lack affordable access and devices.

Why it matters: These divides are colliding and combining in troubling ways — and creating a whole spectrum of education, information and privacy inequality.

[Axios]

Media pivots away from advertising

For decades the primary source of revenue for media companies was advertising. But competition from technology companies and more privacy scrutiny are pushing most media companies to explore alternative forms of revenue, Axios’ Sara Fischer reports.

  • Why it matters: Most media companies have to unwind years worth of sales and product infrastructure to make way for the transition. Not all will survive.

Most companies are looking for creative ways monetize their owned and operated channels and content, but the transition away from advertising and Facebook traffic has been difficult.

Be smart: Most companies are in the experimental phase, and haven’t yet figured out what their long-term strategy for growth will be — if there is one.

Panama Papers Fallout Continues

The first criminal charges relating to ICIJ’s 2016 investigation, the Panama Papers, have been filed in the United States. Four men were charged with money laundering and fraud.

“These defendants went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent U.S. tax laws in order to maintain their wealth and the wealth of their clients,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. There is plenty of detail for those who want it in the department’s indictment.

The Panama Papers investigation was based on a trove of 11.5 million files from inside Mossack Fonseca that were leaked to reporters Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier at German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared with ICIJ. The investigation, done in collaboration with more than 370 reporters working for 100 media outlets, exposed the offshore holdings of world political leaders, links to global scandals, and details of the hidden financial dealings of fraudsters, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities, sports stars and more.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/panama-papers-us-makes-first-criminal-charges-over-money-laundering-scheme/?utm_source=ICIJ&utm_campaign=e234edaf3a-1205_WeeklyEmail2&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_992ecfdbb2-e234edaf3a-82528485


The Guardian

Meryl Streep will take the lead in The Laundromat, a Steven Soderbergh-directed thriller about the Panama Papers.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar winner will potentially star alongside Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, who are both in early talks to join, in the fact-based tale. The Panama Papers was a set of leaked documents that shared financial information of offshore entities, revealing fraud, tax evasion and attempts to avoid international sanctions.

The film will be based on Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite, a book by journalist Jake Bernstein. It will be adapted by Scott Z Burns, a frequent Soderbergh collaborator whose credits include Contagion and Side Effects.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/14/meryl-streep-steven-soderbergh-panama-papers-thriller

“People can’t determine what’s real journalism anymore.”

December 4, 2018

Author Walter Isaacson:

The short, brilliant & scary documentary from Academy Award nominated director Leslie Iwerks goes deep inside the Macedonian fake news industry and shows the truth behind the lies — and the impact it had on America. Very important!”

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