“Fake news” defined an election, and continues to play a prominent role in the presidency of the candidate that most benefited from all of its forms. Gather a bunch of journalism educators together, and it’s no surprise we’re going to want to talk about it. That’s what happened in Chicago at the 2017 annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Continue reading “Trust in a fake news world”
Six hundred employees at four Deep South newspapers lost their jobs Tuesday, as Advance Publications continues its transition to primarily digital news. The cuts hit newsrooms surprisingly hard, especially in the wake of Advance’s earlier commitment to “significantly increase online news-gathering efforts” and offer “richer” “deeper” “robust” “enhanced printed newspapers on a scheduled of three days a week.”
In May, Advance announced limited print schedules and a revamped online approach for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Birmingham News, the Mobile Press-Register, and the Huntsville Times.
The Times-Picayune lost 49% of its news staff on Tuesday. The Birmingham News purged 60% of their journalists. In moves that cut roughly one-third of each newspaper’s overall staffing, it would seem that the actual news gatherers were hit disproportionately hard.
Advance promises that a portion of these positions will be refilled, no doubt by less experienced, more affordable reporters. Still, fulfilling the watchdog role of the press is awful tough work when there aren’t capable bodies there to do the groundwork.
And if yesterday’s events were any indication, the NOLA and AL media groups are going to have a lot of trouble covering their respective cities. Just look at how poorly they covered themselves…
Today is another in an almost decade-long line of sad days for the newspaper industry. Ownership of the New Orleans Times-Picayune announced Thursday that the newspaper will cut its print distribution to three days a week and shift resources to its website, NOLA.com. By the end of the afternoon, three more dailies in Alabama had been similarly downsized.
This is not just another small newspaper trimming down, or a competing paper in a large city getting out of the print business. With a daily circulation of over 150,000, the Times-Picayune is the largest newspaper to scale back printing dates and New Orleans is now the largest city in America without a daily newspaper, according to Poynter.
The move is part of a larger strategy for the newspaper’s ownership group, Advance Publications (often referred to as Newhouse, after the family that owns the company). Hours after the Times-Picayune news, Advance announced the same print schedule for the Birmingham News, Press-Register of Mobile, and the Huntsville Times – leaving three of the state’s four largest cities without a daily newspaper. The Alabama newspapers will place more emphasis on AL.com. Advance also recently consolidated a number of their Michigan newspapers and decreased printing days, eliminated home delivery, or took both measures in various markets.
The new NOLA Media Group promised more intensive online news-gathering “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” and feature-heavy print editions on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday – “the most valuable days for the newspaper’s advertisers,” said NOLA’s president Ricky Matthews in the group’s official release Thursday morning.
Partisan news websites tend to attract similarly partisan audiences, according to a report released today by comScore (as reported by Poynter). Selective exposure is nothing new. However, one website in the study aims for the middle of the ideological continuum and hits it, with great traffic to boot.
The audience sample for Politico in February was 29% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 42% independent. The share of minutes spent on the site overwhelmingly belonged to independents (66%), while Democrats and Republicans again were evenly split (17% each).
The other sites in the study – a selection of left and right-leaning sources – failed to match Politico’s balance, and in most cases, its traffic.
The ones that did attract more visitors were two ideologically opposed news aggregators – The Huffington Post (the study measured only it’s Politics page) and Drudge Report – sites with a long lineage of selective linking to other people’s work. HuffPo produces at least some original content (they even nabbed a Pulitzer last month), but the vast majority of their work remains rewrites and reposts. Even moreso for Drudge.
The study is interesting because claiming the middle has recently been viewed as a losing fight. As American politics continue through a phase of increased division, partisan news organizations have seen the gains, while traditional institutions have seen audience share wilt away. When Fox News and its conservative slant captured a mammoth market share, MSNBC responded by acting as a liberal counterweight. CNN, on the other hand, determined that more success would be found in presenting a balanced look at the day’s events. CNN was dead wrong, and has gone from a close second to a distant third.
So it’s nice to see Politico performing well, particularly in the partisan pig slop that is the Internet. Perhaps it is a small sign that the tide is turning back to a desire for information over self-satisfying infotainment.