–Some 31 percent of respondents have reported deserting a news source because its quality has degenerated.
–Sports, weather and traffic now account for 40 percent of local TV news.
–Local TV news viewership among adults under 30 fell from 42 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2012.
–Mobile digital display is one of the fastest-growing ad markets, but news organizations aren’t getting much of a share. Some 72 percent of that market goes to six companies, including Facebook and Google.
–Some 63 percent of the public has little or no idea of the financial pressures facing news companies.
–At CNN, which invented the 24-hour TV news cycle, the number of produced story packages was cut in half between 2007 and 2012.
Cory Booker is reinventing the future of media in America and that future is … Portlandia. Or perhaps, Williamsburgia. His new video-sharing platform #waywire, an upstart competitor to YouTube with $1.75 million in backing, is a world where hipsters look for the funniest-sounding town in America and see what’s tweeting there. Today, that’s Soddy-Daisy, TN, where #waywire’s #TweetTap team uncovered the nugget of Americana that is a Walmart parking lot barbecue.
In his latest blog post, “Hyperlocal Cooties,” Jeff Jarvis frets that recent retrenchment by Carll Tucker’s Daily Voice and staff cuts at Patch might make people give up on the concept of hyperlocal. He offers a post mortem on many of the “cootied corpses” of failed hyperlocal, from BackFence to Everyblock, and acknowledges a maxim that most independent hyperlocals have espoused for years: “Maybe the truth is that hyperlocal won’t scale. One entity won’t own thousands of towns and their sites because the successful site is very much a part of the community.”
Hyperlocal may not scale, or make anybody rich — but Jarvis believes it can succeed when very dedicated journalists set them up in their own communities. And he wants to see way way more. (more…)
As is often the case, TV’s satirists — Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers — do a better job of getting to the truth of things than those of us actually practicing journalism. A few weeks ago, it was Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein who managed this with their satirical sketch about the Portland Tribune being sold to an internet outfit called Link PDX. Armisen and Brownstein storm the newsroom, quickly explain the art of Gawker-like breeziness and get the Tribune editor, played by George Wendt, to think more of himself as a “linkalist” than a “journalist.” In the end, the editor sheepishly accepts his new publisher’s praise for writing the most popular post in Link PDX’s history, garnering 70 million hits: “Charlize Theron NSFW” (Watch that sketch here.)
Exaggeration of the state of journalism in America today? Perhaps, but not by much. Photos of a scary-looking lamprey eel found by a fisherman on the Raritan River garnered 1.2 million views on Reddit last week, and the story got picked up by the Houston Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor. We at the NJ News Commons weren’t immune to the story either.
Meanwhile a report issued by New Jersey Watchdog about 45 New Jersey superintendent “double dippers” who get pension pay along with their salaries got a mere handful of pickups in the press.
I can understand the basic appeal of a well-crafted, drowsy British melodrama on a Sunday night, especially if the Giants aren’t playing and the basketball season has yet to hit its stride.
And I certainly wish PBS nothing but good luck, given the cretinous snipers who seem always on the ready to target public broadcasting (really, anything with the word “public” attached or implied) for defunding.
But there is something quite unnerving about the latest U.K. import, Downton Abbey, soon to complete its third season run in the U.S.
I have checked out a few of the episodes, one or two in repeats, and the show gives me the creeps. It has too much in common with Gone With the Wind (GWTW), the 1939 Civil War epic that romanticized the practice of owning human beings as property. (more…)
Watching someone like Matt Ericson of the New York Times show off the fabulous data visualizations that his department makes is a little like watching a master magician. What is there, after all, to pulling a rabbit out of a hat? Bubble maps of the words most used at the Democratic and GOP national conventions? What’s the big deal about that? A graphic of every male 100-meter sprint Olympic medalist ever, showing how much faster athletes have gotten over time? Ok, that’s pretty impressive. And the two-and-a-half minute video with pitch-by-pitch visualizations of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera? Well, that’s kind of like sawing a lady in half.
Still, even when lifting the curtain and showing what went into these pieces of data visualization, it still looks easy.
Back when I was in graduate school in the early 1980s, before Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and even before blogs, I spent one semester studying the concept of news diffusion. It’s been 30 years, and it was only one class, but as I remember it, news diffusion spoke to the unofficial channels by which major events were communicated. If you were old enough to remember the Kennedy assassination well then, how did you learn about it? Likely as not, you didn’t hear it on TV or on the radio. Somebody told you. That was news diffusion: the study of how news spread.
I think about news diffusion every few years, when there’s a story so big that it spreads from mouth to mouth, and I thought about it again recently in the beauty parlor, when I overheard a hairdresser and a customer discussing damage from Superstorm Sandy. Hairdressers are, of course, mighty vectors of information. What is there to do between color and cut but talk? The information I learned the weekend after Thanksgiving was vague and incidental — a wedding palace somewhere down the shore had been totally destroyed by the storm and Rt. 35 north of Ortley Beach had been closed — yet I listened intently, lest some prime bit of storm or recovery news should pass my ears.
I thought back to the two momentous days of the storm, and to the days immediately before and after, both when Hurricane Sandy was an enormous cloud formation hovering out in the Atlantic Ocean, and in the early hours of Tuesday, Oct. 30 when the first photos of the damage began to trickle in. As it happened, during that period, I was operating a news diffusion machine of my own making. Using a live blogging platform called ScribbleLive, and with the active help of about a dozen members of the NJ News Commons, I pulled in tweets, photos, news reports and video under the hashtag #NJSandy. This #NJSandy feed was, in turn, embedded by about 10 sites, and it drew more than 200,000 page views during the week of the storm. For six days, from the Saturday before the storm until the Thursday after, I did virtually nothing but manage this feed, and those days are a complete blur. But I can tell you that the flow of information — which came at me fast and hard and then faster and harder — formed its own kind of storm surge, peaking around midnight on Monday Oct. 29. And that information surge included contributions both from traditional news sources and from the informal ones my old professors would have referred to as “word of mouth.” (more…)