Anti-Soros conspiracies, fact-checking, and the death of metric-obsessed media
Our personal weekly selection about journalism and innovation. Stay up to date by following our Telegram channel or by subscribing to our Newsletter, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
edited by Marco Nurra
- Anti-Soros conspiracies aren’t only on 4chan. This politician aired one in a speech — then tweeted it to thousands of followers. Politicians have large megaphones both direct (their social media accounts) and indirect (their capacity to obtain media coverage). Some politicians have eagerly used these megaphones to amplify conspiracy theorists, whether it’s antivaxxers in Italy or birthers in the United States.
- The unbelievable story of the plot against George Soros. How two Jewish American political consultants helped create the world’s largest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
- Vice to axe 250 staff in latest round of digital media job losses. Cuts follow recently announced redundancies at HuffPost and BuzzFeed.
- BuzzFeed cuts should mean the death of metric-obsessed media. Can a company that became a titan based on its understanding of how to manufacture social virality metrics change its spots, and figure out how to build a sustainable business based on things like donations, events, and e-commerce? At one point, BuzzFeed seemed like the antithesis of traditional media companies who were trying to move from print to digital. But now the former superstar has its own transformation to make, and it appears to be struggling just as much as the ancien regime it was hoping to replace.
- Paywall ‘not really a conversation’ anymore. Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Katharine Viner has said a hard paywall “isn’t really a conversation” at the news group anymore as she declared its “rewarding” donations method to be working. Last year the Guardian announced that it had received more than 1m donations, although Viner insists on calling them contributions.
- How foundation funding changes the way journalism gets done. Funding from foundations does change the way reporting is done, the issues that non-profit media organizations decide to focus on, and the amount and content of that work. Regardless of whether we think those changes are ultimately good or bad journalistically, or even ethically, it’s worth noting that even funding from foundations whose goals we agree with has an impact on the type of work that gets done and for whom. And by definition, if work is being done in certain areas — areas that align with the goals of the foundation providing the funding — then work is not being done in other areas.
- Journalism has a gender representation problem. Bloomberg is looking for a solution. The company’s approach to boost diverse sourcing is multifaceted, and has led to positive results. Last year, the company added a CMS feature that allowed reporters to track the diversity of sources in stories. Tagged stories have increased approximately 10 percent from week to week since launch. The company also boosted its global database of women experts from 500 names at the start of 2018 to more than 2,300.
🔔 Laura Zelenko (Senior Executive Editor For Diversity, Talent, Standards and Training at Bloomberg) will be a #ijf19 speaker
- Journalism is the conversation. The conversation is journalism. “I am sorely disappointed in The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo, CNN’s Brian Stelter, and other journalists who these days are announcing to the world, using the powerful platforms they have, that they think journalists should ‘disengage’ from the platform for everyone else, Twitter. No. It is the sacred duty of journalists to listen to the public they serve. It is then their duty to bring journalistic value — reporting, facts, explanation, context, education, connections, understanding, empathy, action, options — to the public conversation. Journalism is that conversation. Democracy is that conversation,” writes Jeff Jarvis.
- New study finds trust in traditional media (mostly) transcends partisanship. Contrary to what you might read on social media, and although we may read the news through blue- or red-tinted lenses, Democrats and Republicans continue to trust traditional media sources over sites that cheerlead for their teams or peddle fiction friendly to them.
- Want to get away with posting fake news on Facebook? Just change your website domain. One of the most frequently debunked fake news publishers on Facebook is still getting past the platform’s fact-checking system — and it’s doing it by using the simplest of tricks. In the fall, YourNewsWire, one of the most infamous misinformers on the internet, migrated its site and rebranded as News Punch. And Snopes, which had debunked the most YourNewsWire stories in our July story, is not pleased. “It would be an impossible task for us to update all of that information and ensure that it would be applied appropriately,” said Vinny Green, director of operations at Snopes. “It’s an incredible task to do that. Facebook has not, in my opinion, demonstrated that the fruits of that particular piece — maintenance of previous misinformation — are fruitful.”
- Snopes pulls out of its fact-checking partnership with Facebook. Why? Vinny Green, vice president of operations, said it has to do with bandwidth. Since fact-checkers have to manually enter each false post they flag into a dashboard on the platform, it takes a lot of time for an operation that only employs 16 people and has no physical headquarters. “Do you need fact-checkers to stop and do all this manual work? Or should fake websites just be reported through other means and supply a body of evidence that these people shouldn’t be on your platform because of their nefarious activity?”
- Chequeado is teaming up with citizens and robots to expand the fact-checking universe. The technology that can identify fact-checkable statements from that video transcript could soon deliver fact-checkable statements to the rest of us, too.