Need to Know: April 8, 2019
Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism
OFF THE TOP
You might have heard: Americans expect to get their news from social media, but they don’t expect it to be accurate (Nieman Lab)
But did you know: Americans give social media a clear thumbs-down (NBC News)
The American public holds negative views of social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, with 57 percent saying these sites do more to divide the country than unite it, and 55 percent saying social media spreads more falsehoods than news, a national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found. The poll also found that six in 10 Americans don’t trust Facebook at all to protect their personal information. However, respondents were split over whether the federal government should break up the largest tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook. A whopping 82 percent also say social media sites do more to waste people’s time, versus 15 percent who say they do more to use Americans’ time well. At the same time, nearly seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent — say they use social media at least once a day.
+ Related: Does Google meet its users’ expectations around consumer privacy? This news industry research says no (Nieman Lab)
TRY THIS AT HOME
After moving to a digital subscription model, The Bangor Daily News wanted to learn more about its audience. So last year, it began Net Promoter Score surveys, which ask whether readers would recommend its product to a friend or colleague on a 0-10 scale. It sent out email surveys to its subscribers, and segmented the audience based on print-only subscribers, digital-only subscribers, print plus digital subscribers, and readers who have registered with an email address. The survey also had follow-up questions about what changes readers would suggest and what the Daily News does well. “It’s been interesting to track people’s perceptions of the products that they’re paying for,” said Daily News Director of Product Marketing Conrad Lumm. “It’s really instructive and useful for us. Those qualitative responses, to me as a marketer, are the most interesting piece of the information.” The qualitative feedback is also the most actionable, added Director of Audience Development Joellen Easton. “It gives us an early signal.”
+ Pushing an engagement rock up a newsroom hill? You’re not alone. Here’s some wisdom, encouragement and practical tips for solo engagement evangelists (Medium, We Are Hearken)
The teenage investigative reporters taking on corruption in Kyrgyzstan (Global Investigative Journalism Network)
In its first four years, nobody paid much attention to Kloop, a scrappy youth news organization and real-world journalism school made up of “strange teenagers who write about politics.” That changed in 2010 when Kloop published an investigation into corruption by the son of Kyrgyzstan’s president. Just weeks after, protests across Kyrgyzstan against the corrupt administration turned violent, and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted. Authorities had shut down access to websites hosted outside of the country, and on one April night, when the central government first lost control of a key region, Kloop found itself the only news organization in Kyrgyzstan reporting the truth, with all other outlets shut down or scared of censorship. As such, the Kyrgyz Revolution of 2010 was live-blogged by teenagers. “We woke up the next morning, and we were famous,” says Kloop founder Bektour Iskender.
The golden age of YouTube is over (The Verge)
As YouTube battles misinformation catastrophes and discovers new ways people are abusing its system, the company is shifting toward more commercial, advertiser-friendly content at a speed its creator community hasn’t seen before, reports Julia Alexander. This community of amateur creators, who helped bring on YouTube’s “golden age” and are still being encouraged by the company to continue producing original content, are increasingly frustrated and confused about why their videos are buried in search results, don’t appear on the trending page, or are being quietly demonetized. At the same time, YouTube’s pitch decks to advertisers increasingly seem to feature videos from household celebrity names, not creative amateurs.
UP FOR DEBATE
At last week’s International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, press critic Jay Rosen argued that President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is more than just criticism of bias in the news media — it’s a form of populism. Populist politicians mobilize support by building and fueling resentment of political and social elites, who are considered corrupt and dangerous. Trump has turned anti-press sentiment into a hate movement, in which his followers have come to regard journalists not as journalists, but as political opponents, Rosen said. “When Trump points to the reporters and camera men at his rallies, he is presenting the hate object to his fans. It doesn’t matter who the journalists are, where they work, or what their recent performance has been. Again, this is not an act of criticism. It is a potent form of symbolic politics.”
Last October, New Hampshire Public Radio released Bear Brook, a six-part investigative podcast that amounted to a big swing for the station. Even with “all the trappings of the true crime genre, a.k.a. the Bloody, Beating Heart of Podcasting,” writes Nicholas Quah, the podcast’s success was impressive. It garnered over 4.5 million downloads and the number continues to grow, quite impressive when you consider the podcast is based on a local story and New Hampshire’s population is 1.4 million. As the six-episode season unfolded, listeners were prompted via ad read to make a one-time donation to the station. In exchange, they would get early access to upcoming episodes. At this writing, the campaign has brought in over 1,800 donations for a total haul of slightly over $38,000. While the campaign required some technical jerry-rigging, it matched the way public radio has generally raised funds, and allowed NHPR to keep control of donor data, which it used to create a targeted newsletter, promote new episodes and new shows, and announce tour dates.
+ Related: All you needed to know about podcasting — is it worth it, how to do it, what to expect (Better News)