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There’s a difference between audience and traffic. This piece from L2 Inc shows that there is a hunger for real news and information. Consumers are willing to pay for it too. Businesses that fail to understand the difference between audience and traffic are likely going down the wrong path.

Audience vs. Traffic

There’s a difference between audience and traffic. This piece from L2 Inc shows that there is a hunger for real news and information. Consumers are willing to pay for it too. Businesses that fail to understand the difference between audience and traffic are likely going down the wrong path.

Posted by Joel on April 16 2018 • Journalism

Trust, Media and Democracy

Results from the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy have just been released. The results show that technology had made it easier for Americans to connect with each other and to find information, but those advances also present both “challenges and opportunities for individuals and U.S. institutions,” according to the report.

“Not only is more information readily available, but so is more misinformation, and many consumers may not be able to easily discern the di erence between the two. Amid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to ful ll their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable.”

Most Americans “believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources. They believe the media continue to have a critical role in our democracy but are not very positive about how the media are ful lling that role.”

Medium has a good summary article about the study, 10 Reasons Why American Trust in the Media is at an All-Time Low.

Here are a few key findings that I thought were interesting from the study:

Americans believe the news media have an important role to play in democracy, particularly in terms of informing the public, yet they do not believe the media are fulfilling that role."

* Eight in 10 U.S. adults believe the news has a critical role to play in our democracy. They feel it is important for the medial to make sure Americans have the knowledge they need to be informed about public affairs and hold leaders accountable. Yet at the same time, they are more like to say the media perform these roles poorly. And “less than half of Americans, 44%, say they can think of a news source that reports the news objectively. Republicans who can name an accurate source overwhelmingly mention Fox News®, while Democrats’ responses are more varied.”

It’s increasingly harder to be a well-informed citizen

* “By 58% to 38%, Americans say it is harder rather than easier to be informed today due to the plethora of information and news sources available.”

Also, only half of Americans believe they are enough sources of information to allow people to cut through bias and sort out the facts in the news--down from 66% a generation ago.

Fact from Fiction

• “Today, 66% of Americans say most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42% held this view.”

Fake News

* A majority of U.S. adults consider “fake news” a very serious threat to our democracy.”

* “Four in 10 Republicans consider accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be ‘fake news.’”

American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy is a fascinating look into how we view and trust the news today. I encourage anyone with an interest in democracy or the media to download the PDF and read the entire report.

Posted by Joel on January 18 2018 • Journalism

Battle for Magazine Readers' Attention


Folio published an interesting infographic this past summer that highlights some of the efforts magazine publishers are making to attract and keep reader attention. A couple of interesting stats show that longform writing can still attract readers when it is good:

* 3.4 million, number of minutes of combined reading time garnered over a 24-hour period by GQ Style’s 6,000-word profile of Brad Pitt.

* 2, consecutive single-day traffic records for TheAtlantic.com set by Alex Tizon’s June cover story, “My Family’s Slave”

A couple extra stats caught my eye:

* 9 months, lifetime of Conde Nast’s Style.com from launch to shutdown

* 37%, share of marketers who will plan to add messaging apps as a distribution channel in the next year

Posted by Joel on October 05 2017 • Journalism

News We Trust

In this era of “fake news” what media brands remain as trusted sources of news? The University of Missouri recently conducted a survey to find out.

Ad Week highlights the results of the questionnaire that reached 9,000 people. Twenty-eight newsrooms asked their audiences to answer questions about how much news they consume and how much they are willing to pay for content. Of the respondents, 67 percent said they “consider themselves likely or very likely to trust the news” while 33 percent do not.

“Additionally, both white and liberal respondents were more likely to trust and pay for the news than non-white and conservative respondents,” writes Sami Main. “Older respondents were also more likely to pay for their news regardless of race or political leaning.”

A chart of the most and least trusted brands:


Posted by Joel on September 06 2017 • Journalism

Journalism: Coastal and Metropolitan

Are journalists becoming more sequestered to coastal and metropolitan settings? Why? These are good questions addressed in this post at The Atlantic.

“There’s little question the journalistic class has diverged sharply from the country it covers. In 1960, nearly a third of reporters and editors had never attended a single year of college; in 2015, only 8.3 percent could say the same, according to Census figures…

“To a modest degree, journalists have also become increasingly sequestered on the East and West coasts, to the detriment of newsrooms in the interior of the country. In fact, as of 2011, 92 percent of journalists worked within a metropolitan area, up from 75 percent a half century earlier.” Today, 13 percent of all journalists work in Manhatten, according to the piece. The total number of jobs has declined sharply since 1990, but the decline has hit rural areas the most.


Posted by Joel on February 25 2017 • Journalism

Encountering Digital News

A new report issued by The Pew Research Center reveals some interesting insight into how readers consume and interpret digital news. The Columbia Journalism Review summarizes the report: “By a statistically insignificant margin, the most common way for people to get their news is still by visiting a news organization directly. In these cases, findings showed that people are more aware of the source of the news, and they’re less likely to share it with others.

“However, when people get their news through social media—or from friends via email or text—they’re less likely to remember the source, and they’re more likely to share it online or send it to friends.”

According to the study: “When asked how they arrived at news content in their most recent web interaction, online news consumers were about equally likely to get news by going directly to a news website (36% of the times they got news, on average) as getting it through social media (35%). They were less likely to access news through emails, text messages or search engines. And most people favored one pathway over another. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of online news consumers had one preferred pathway for getting most of their online news.”

The study addresses recent questions about fake news as well: “When consumers click on a link to get to news, they can often recall the news source’s name. Individuals who said they followed a link to a news story were asked if they could write down the name of the news outlet they landed on. On average, they provided a name 56% of the time. But they were far more able to do so when that link came directly from a news organization – such as through an email or text alert from the news organization itself – than when it came from social media or an email or text from a friend. It was also the case that 10% of consumers, when asked to name the source of the news, wrote in “Facebook” as a specific news outlet.”

There are some very interesting findings in the report, including how gender and age play a role in how people consume news. Younger and older consumers follow news links at the same rate but younger consumers are more likely to forget the source. According to The Columbia Journalsim Review summary of the report, younger and female news consumers are more likely to get their news through social media, while older and male consumers are more likely to seek it out directly from a news organization.

This chart highlights another interesting detail: how certain topics are more likely to be learned about through one method over another. It is an interesting study for those who work in journalism or marketing.


Posted by Joel on February 11 2017 • Journalism

Writers and the CIA

There is a really interesting story in The New Republic about writers, literary magazines and the CIA. Patrick Iber writes about the history of the CIA’s attempt to impact culture and ideas. It’s fascinating literary history>

“Today’s intellectuals approach their labors in a very different set of circumstances,” he writes. “The struggle for academic patronage and the strained conditions of nearly all media properties have led to fewer jobs and fewer venues for substantial writing; the possibility of leading a public-facing life of the mind now seems vanishingly small, which only heightens nostalgia for the golden age of the 1950s. Yet the shadow of the CIA lurks behind the achievements of that time. The free play of ideas—the very thing that was supposed to distinguish the United States from the Soviet Union in the first place—turned out to be, at least in part, a carefully constructed illusion. What if the prominence of midcentury intellectuals, the sense that they were engaged in important political and artistic projects, is inseparable from the fact that they were useful to America’s Cold War empire?”

Posted by Joel on January 13 2017 • Journalism

The Rest is Advertising

imageJournalists will relate to Jacob Silverman’s “confession” in The Baffler about being a writer of sponsored content: The Rest is Advertising.

“In case you haven’t heard, journalism is now in perpetual crisis, and conditions are increasingly surreal” he writes. “The fate of the controversialists at Gawker rests on a delayed jury trial over a Hulk Hogan sex tape. Newspapers publish directly to Facebook, and Snapchat hires journalists away from CNN. Last year, the Pulitzer Prizes doubled as the irony awards; one winner in the local reporting category, it emerged, had left his newspaper job months earlier for a better paying gig in PR. “Is there a future in journalism and writing and the Internet?” Choire Sicha, cofounder of The Awl, wrote last January. “Haha, FUCK no, not really.” Even those who have kept their jobs in journalism, he explained, can’t say what they might be doing, or where, in a few years’ time. Disruption clouds the future even as it holds it up for worship.

“But for every crisis in every industry, a potential savior emerges. And in journalism, the latest candidate is sponsored content.”

Silverman’s assessment of the state of journalism today is well worth the read.

Posted by Joel on March 22 2016 • Journalism

The Life and Death and Life of Magazines

Is this graph an accurate history of American magazine publishing? Has the Internet decimated the remains of our attention spans? That’s not exactly the case. Read The Life and Death and Life of Magazines, and learn how magazines have been dying since there have been magazines.

“Worse, we’re told that it has paradoxically fostered a new scourge for great magazine writing: more of it,” writes Evan Ratliff. “In just the last five years, web sites and magazines new and old—from Nautilus to BuzzFeed to Matter to The Atavist Magazine, which I edit—have added to an ambitious resurgence in long, serious magazine writing. While this might seem like a sign of life, critics have explained that in fact such efforts are diminishing this great craft. Terms like “longform” and #hashtags like #longreads—through which readers recommend work they appreciate to other potential readers—only serve to dilute what was once the purview of discriminating enthusiasts alone. “The problem,” Jonathan Mahler wrote in the New York Times in 2014, “is that long-form stories are too often celebrated simply because they exist.” It was bad enough when our capacity to produce and read great stories collapsed. Now it seems we’ve turned around and loved magazine writing to death.”

Posted by Joel on February 03 2016 • Journalism

The State of Consumer Magazines


In his piece for Folio title Assessing the State of the Consumer Magazine Print Business, Baird Davis writes that the industry’s transition from print to a hybrid digital format has been more difficult than could have been imaging five years ago. “In the rush to the digital future, publishers have taken their eyes off the print-ball.”

Davis’ article relies on analysis of print performance, along with information gleaned from “two recent interviews: one conducted by Samir Husni with Bob Garfield, media columnist and critic, and the other a W Magazine interview with Condé Nast’s Bob Sauerberg.” In his intro, Davis writes that magazine publishers are no longer able to change the economics imposed by the digital revolution. One confounding aspect is that while the audiences continue to grow, CPMs continue to go down. Garfield also says in his interview that “although the company’s monthly visitors have increased 33 percent in the last year to 87 million, company revenues decreased, primarily because of continued weakness in print advertising.”

“Their comments perfectly capture the transition dilemma facing consumer magazine publishers,” writes Davis. “The Sauerberg interview demonstrated that publishers, even ones as big and successful as Condé Nast, still depend on print advertising to support this difficult transition. And in both interviews there’s a resigned acknowledgment that there are no easy revenue solutions in today’s media world, where the consumer magazine industry’s major competitors now include Google, Facebook and Amazon.”

It’s a prescient observation of today’s magazine environment.

Posted by Joel on November 05 2015 • Journalism