Media Oxpecker: Is This Real Life?

Every week we round up happenings on the internet you may have missed while you were busy killing Breitbart.

  • When news organizations try to build audiences with viral content, are they doing so at the expense of fundamentals such as fact-checking and picking up the phone to verify a story is true? The New York Times is on it:

    “If you throw something up without fact-checking it, and you’re the first one to put it up, and you get millions and millions of views, and later it’s proved false, you still got those views. That’s a problem. The incentives are all wrong”

    Felix Salmon says the issue partly stems from the fact that some writers and websites focus on “reporting about happenings on the internet,” which includes reporting on viral stories that may or may not be true. A Twitter hoax, for example, is technically “happening” on Twitter, regardless of whether it’s true in real life:

    The reasons that people share basically have nothing to do with whether or not the thing being shared is true. If your company was built from day one to produce stuff which people want to share, then that will always end up including certain things which aren’t true. That’s not a problem if you’re ViralNova, whose About page says “We aren’t a news source, we aren’t professional journalists, and we don’t care.” But it becomes a problem if you put yourself forward as practitioners of responsible journalism, as BuzzFeed does.

  • Facebook is preparing yet another change to its news feed algorithm, but no one knows whether it will lead to more, or less, traffic for news sites. “It’s scary that they can get everyone hooked on such high referral traffic then take it away so quickly with a quick flip of their algorithm,” one newspaper staffer said to BuzzFeed.

  • Don’t call it “long-form,” says The Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet, who is puzzled by the journalism industry’s recent fetishization of length. “Would you feel drawn to a movie or a book simply because it is long?”

    In the digital age, making a virtue of mere length sends the wrong message to writers as well as readers. For when you don’t have to print words on pages and then bundle the pages together and stick postage stamps on the result, you slip some of the constraints that have enforced excellence (and provided polite excuses for editors to trim fat) since Johannes Gutenberg began printing books. You no longer have to make that agonizing choice of the best example from among three or four—you can freely use them all. More adjectives? Why not? … Long-form, on the Web, is in danger of meaning “a lot of words.”

  • 18 ways to take mobile seriously in 2014.

  • Mobile ads are forecast to account for more than third of new ad revenue by 2016.

  • Disqus is planning to introduce “sponsored comments” into its commenting platform, which is used by more than 3 million websites, including this one.

  • John L. Robinson says newspaper editors should be discussing how to share coverage responsibilities with other publications:

    Radical, yes. Unlikely, to be sure. But if editors are truly thinking about providing the best public service to their readers, sharing coverage is a natural answer. How many reporters from different news organizations need to cover the state legislature? … If they aren’t duplicating coverage, could they bring their readers other interesting stories that readers wouldn’t get otherwise?

  • How a network of hyperlocal news sites in suburban D.C. is betting on local advertising.

  • And finally, Gustavo Arellano on OC Register owner Jared Kushner’s plan to launch a daily paper in Los Angeles:

    Man, would I have loved to been there to see the looks on the faces of his reporters: of shock in hearing their owner expand yet again after opening a paper in Long Beach and buying the Riverside Press-Enterprise despite losing millions of dollars, of bewilderment when Kushner announced he wouldn’t be hiring more reporters for this LA experiment but rather staff from within the OC Register, of dread in finally realizing their Pied Piper is to–excuse the French–bat-shit loco.

Leave a Reply