The Big Issue

Good reads about journalism, tech and media

Public Media

New NHK Chief Maeda to Push Reforms

29 January 2020

Terunobu Maeda, the new president of NHK, expressed on Monday his determination to push ahead with reforms of the public broadcaster. “The three-part reforms of operations, viewing fees and governance must be pursued ceaselessly,” Maeda, 75, said at his inaugural news conference. More

The Paywalls Are Tumbling Down

By Enrique Dans

20 January 2020

These are bad times for paywalls. The business model seen as a solution for newspapers struggling to adapt to the internet has taken another battering with the launch of Chrome 76, the latest version of the world’s most popular browserMore

Big Tech’s Next Challenge: Powerful State Media Networks

By Nithin Coca

31 October 2019

Facebook, Google and Twitter face pressure to regulate state-funded media ops seeking to game the Internet. But which ones, and how? More

Measuring What Makes Readers Subscribe to The New York TimesBy Daniel Mill1 November 2019
Understanding what drives someone to purchase a news subscription is far from simple. Each potential subscriber is exposed to different news stories, advertisements and messages both on our site and off of it. More

The Cutthroat Battle for Controlling Le MondeBy Frederic Filloux27 September 2019
What’s going on at Le Monde? Is its independence in peril? Probably not. But the current confrontation might radically change the ownership structure of France’s flagship paper. More

Disinfo WarsBy Hossein Derakhshan6 August 2019
In the Information Disorder report for Council of Europe (2017), Claire Wardle and I identified three types of bad-information (mis-, dis-, and malinformation), three phases (creation, (re)production, distribution), and three elements (agent, message, interpreter) to information disorder.Here I would like to expand that model and focus on various categories of information warfare, based on their agents and targets, divided as state, non-state or non-state organisations, and the public. More

Trust in News is Correlated to Distribution ModesBy Frederic Filloux21 July 2019
Markets where consumers are the best connected with news brands, who pay more often for online journalism, and overall trust what is found on social more, enjoy a higher trust in their media. More

The Rise of Influencers and the Decay of JournalismBy Frederic Filloux16 July 2019
Traditional journalism is slowly yielding to influencer-driven ”information”. It results from an economic shift in favor of social media and the pervasive laziness of newsrooms. More

Why Bundled Subscriptions Won’t Save the News Industry12 July 2019
Earlier this month, a company called Mogul News launched a news app that curates article content from three media outlets: Bloomberg, The Financial Times, and The Economist. If you were to subscribe to each of these publications separately, it would add up to at least $944 a year, but the Mogul News app costs just $9.99 a month, or $119 annually. More
Navigating Non-Profit NewsBy Peter Osnos7 July 2019
In Miami last February about 600 people convened to consider tackling the great challenges to local journalism (and journalism generally) with non-profit models. It was, by all accounts, a major occasion attracting representatives of the most formidable new enterprises including The ProPublica Local Reporting Network, Report for America and the American Journalism Project and funders led by the John N. and James L. Knight Foundation which announced that it “would be doubling our investment in strengthening journalism to $300 million over the next five years.” More
A Journalist’s Efforts to Dismantle the Soviet Union’s Legacy of Media CensorshipBy Contrast10 June 2019
Lithuania isn’t known for having a strong independent media tradition, but a group of journalists — who are ready to take risks — are changing that. More

Can, or Should Quality News Outlets Survive in Our Algorithmic ‘Post-Truth’ Society?31 May 2019By Paresseux Scribouillard
The concept of quality news outlets in 2019 can seem like the talk of a few academics not very in touch with the economics of news in our current environment. More

The High Stakes of Building Trust in Local NewsBy Michael Shapiro23 May 2019
A significant political story is breaking in a community. A reporter gathers the facts, conducts interviews, seeks comment from the parties involved and goes back over her work, checking every facet of the story for accuracy. More

Who Will Win the Podcast Wars?By Michael Tauberg15 May 2019
With the recent launch of podcast service Luminary, we’ve witnessed the opening salvo in a much larger war. Today the podcast industry is small, but it is has enormous potential. And like most media, it can only have a few big winners. More

The Signals” Wants to Be a Full Ecosystem for WhistleblowersBy Frederic Filloux21 May 2019
Last week, five European media published the result of a nine-month-long investigation coordinated by The Signals Network. The non-profit wants to be a one-stop-shop for sources willing to come forward. More

The Future of Journalism Is Tiny, Targeted, and Timely1 May 2019By Phillip Smith
What news startups can learn from those targeted ads in your Instagram and Facebook feeds. More

Mapping the Brutal Subscription BattlefieldBy Frederic Filloux22 April 2019
Subscription is the model of the moment for news. But the field is taken over by large players who will spare no expenses to erect the most robust barriers to entry. More

GooglexitBy Alexandre Botao10 April 2019
EU Copyright Directive will require search engines and aggregators to pay publishers for the right to display news results. Google is threatening to ghost Europe while at the same time local media companies say it needs them. Does it? More

Nothing but the Truth: Technologies That Help to Fight Fake NewsBy Maryna Makarova10 March 2019
During the US presidential election of 2016, an article based on a flawed argument claimed that Donald Trump won the popular vote. In reality, his opponent Hillary Clinton got up to 2.9 million more votes, but this false information gained over 4 million shares and engagements and become the world’s biggest fake news. A similar story during the same election happened with fictional Pope Francis’ endorsement for Donald Trump’s presidency. More
Editorial Innovation in NewsBy David Caswell8 March 2019
It is easy to assume that the future of news will be inevitably technical. That assumption is dangerous. More
Here’s Why Google Built a New Search Tool for Data JournalistsBy Behind Local News2 March 2019
Data journalism can deliver some of the most rewarding and valuable stories — but it can also be time-consuming and tricky to fit into a tight newsroom schedule. Vincent Ryan, Teaching Fellow at Google News Lab, explains how Google turned it thoughts to solving the problems. More
Alternative Media and National IdentityBy Bettina D’avila1 March 2019
It is obvious for some people that quite often the national media — or mainstream media — does not represent the majority of the population that they are addressing. In such cases, a significant part of the audience is subjected to a media system fuelled by commercial demands and political interests that don’t reflect their demands nor dialogue with their own reality. More
Journalism Isn’t Dying. It’s Returning to Its RootsBy Antonio Garcia Martinez20 February 2019
The past few weeks have brought bad news to the hardworking scribes of the news business. Three leading digital outlets—BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and Vice—announced layoffs that left many accomplished journalists unemployed. More
Researchers Say Fears About ‘Fake News’ Are ExaggeratedBy Mathew Ingram17 February 2019
It’s so widely accepted that it’s verging on conventional wisdom: misinformation, or “fake news,” spread primarily by Facebook to hundreds of millions of people (and created by Russian agents), helped distort the political landscape before and during the 2016 US presidential election, and this resulted in Donald Trump becoming president. But is it really that cut and dried? More
Do Not Fear the Robot-JournalistBy Porsche Digital Lab15 February 2019
Most conversations about AI in journalism tend to revolve around the robot-journalist and the question, if and when machines will replace human writers. But as intriguing as these discussions are, they tend to miss the actual role AI will play in newsrooms and is indeed already playing. More

The Cleansing of the Digital News MediaBy Robert Showah10 February 2019
Layoffs at self-regarding media outlets may be part of a positive process that could heal the broken relationship between press and reader. More

The State of Technological JournalismBy Max Gorynski8 February 2019
There is a new and perverse honor in the drive to be a journalist in our century. The grand narrative trope of the wilderness newly civilized by the hardy and intrepid has been reversed by the virtual geo-blanching effect of net economics, as a region of employ once flush and fertile has now become the home of the brave, the desperate, and the obsessive pugilist against the tide. More
Proposed UK Law Could Expose Journalists’ Emails, Say CriticsBy Jim Waterson3 February 2019
British police forces could find it easier to access journalists’ private emails as a result of legislation making its way through parliament, according to freedom of speech campaigners, who are urging politicians to make a last-minute intervention to secure journalistic freedom. More
Time to Look More Critically at Data JournalismBy Letizia Gambini31 January 2019
The field of data journalism has traveled a long way since 2012, the year of publication of the first edition of the Data Journalism Handbook. Not just because of more sophisticated technologies, or a different economic setting, but also because society and culture have changed. More
The Rise of Populism and the Damages to JournalismBy Frederic Filloux25 January 2019In the past two years, the global rise of populism has inflicted severe wounds to journalism. But inadequate responses from the news media has compounded the damages. More
Tech Media’s Impossible PivotBy Aaron Timms22 January 2019The Consumer Electronics Show is upon us once again, and suddenly the anxieties of the past year in tech — the Nazi question, Elon Musk and his one-size-fits-none cave capsule, Jack Dorsey at peace in Myanmar, bravely refusing to let genocide get in the way of a good night’s sleep — seem so distant, so small. More
Yes, the EU’s New #CopyrightDirective is All About FiltersBy Cory Doctorow20 January 2019When the EU started planning its new Copyright Directive (the “Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive”), a group of powerful entertainment industry lobbyists pushed a terrible idea: a mandate that all online platforms would have to create crowdsourced databases of “copyrighted materials” and then block users from posting anything that matched the contents of those databases. More
How AI and Chinese-Like Business Models Could Reshape Digital MediaBy Rédouane Ramdani8 January 2019In January 2018, Facebook announced that it was going to distance itself from news by de-prioritizing it from the News Feed. Just one month later, media companies started feeling the impact. More
How Local Journalism Can Upend the ‘Fake News’ NarrativeBy Damian Radcliffe22 December 2018“For the first time media is the least trusted institution globally,” Edelman, the global PR and marketing firm concluded in its annual worldwide study on trust in institutions like the media, business and government. More
Death By Innovation: How Newspapers Ruined Their Own IndustryBy Scott S. Bateman15 December 2018The death of the newspaper industry is a legend-in-the-making story about managers who oppose change. It’s also a lesson in how to undermine innovation. More
Why News Weeklies Like Time Lost so Much of Their ValueBy Simon Owens18 December 2018The past two decades have not been kind to legacy media outlets, but they’ve been especially brutal for news weeklies — magazines that were specifically designed to summarize each week’s news in an easily digestible format. More
Craig Newmark’s New Hit ListBy Andrew Zaleski13 December 2018There was hay here once. Horses, coachmen. Carriages were stored one room over. But that was a long time ago, before this house in lower Manhattan was even on the market, before the construction workers arrived, before the limestone tile for an adjoining hallway was cut, before the hayloft was removed to make room for a spiral staircase and more bookshelves. More
Moon Appoints Incumbent KBS Chief as Broadcaster’s New HeadBy Ken Doctor12 December 2018President Moon Jae-in appointed incumbent KBS President Yang Sung-dong as the new chief of the nation’s largest broadcaster on Monday. KBS’ board of directors selected him Yang to continue leading the country’s public broadcaster in October. More
India: Rekindle Public Service BroadcastingBy VV Sundar11 December 2018Prasar Bharati is finally kicking off a manpower audit encompassing Doordarshan and All India Radio. Sometime back, Doordarshan announced its intent to re-design its antiquated logo. Perhaps nothing came of that exercise. The ‘eye’ logo, as it is popularly known, is easily the most recognised and iconic logo of the decades gone by. More
The Media’s Impossible TaskBy Tony Bracks10 December 2018The media is an essential part of democracy. In most modern democracies a significant proportion of the people will have never read any policy documents or have never listened to any party speeches. The media is simply their only view of politics. More
Small-Town American Newspapers Are Surprisingly Resilient1 December 2018Jay Nolan surveys his media empire from a shed-like building outside London, Kentucky. On his desk is a stack of eight newspapers, including the Berea Citizen (“established in 1899”, circulation 4,511), the Mountain Advocate (“since 1904”, circulation 4,500) and the Pineville Sun-Cumberland Courier (“celebrating 109 years”, circulation 1,646). More
The Website That Shows How a Free Press Can DieBy Patrick Kingsley and Benjamin Novak24 November 2018Hungary’s leading news website, Origo, had a juicy scoop: A top aide to the far-right prime minister, Viktor Orban, had used state money to pay for sizable but unexplained expenses during secret foreign trips. The story embarrassed Mr. Orban and was a reminder that his country still had an independent press.But that was in 2014. Today, Origo is one of the prime minister’s most dutiful media boosters, parroting his attacks on migrants and on George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist demonized by the far right on both sides of the Atlantic. More
A Tale of Two JournalismsBy Alex Veeneman14 November 201810pm — Thursday, November 1st. The audio of a segment on what you can and cannot wear on Election Day in Minnesota echoes from the television in the front room of my apartment. I’m sitting at my desk in the office a few steps away. My headphones are on, but I’m not feeling myself.What is on my mind at this late hour as the metropolis that is Minneapolis is all aglow with light outside my window is three-fold— my personal future, my professional future and the future of journalism, along with those who work in it. To say that I am scared is just the tip of the iceberg. More
Artificial Intelligence Demands Genuine JournalismBy Maria Teresa Ronderos2 November 2018Many large newsrooms and news agencies have, for some time, relegated sports, weather, stock exchange movements and corporate performance stories to computers. Surprisingly, machines can be more rigorous and comprehensive than some reporters. Unlike many journalists who often single-source stories, software can import data from various sources, recognise trends and patterns and, using Natural Language Processing, put those trends into context, constructing sophisticated sentences with adjectives, metaphors and similes. Robots can now convincingly report on crowd emotions in a tight soccer match. More
The New York Times on Pace to Earn More Than $600m in Digital This YearBy Joshua Benton1 November 2018The Failing New York Times released its third-quarter numbers this morning and, well, if the rest of the news industry was doing this well, we could shut down Nieman Lab and grab some worry-free beach time in warmer climes. Its ongoing transition from print to digital revenue has been managed without the staffing disruption just about everyone has seen, and it continues to see significant jumps in paying digital subscribers, seven years after launching the paywall and two years after its initial Trump bump. More
As News Deserts Expand, New Approaches to Local News Are Taking RootBy Karen Rundlet16 October 2018If news and information are part of the fabric of democracy, then the fabric of U.S. democracy is in tatters. That’s the conclusion that leaps off the map in the 2018 The Expanding News Deserts report, which shows that 171 U.S. counties do not have a local newspaper, and nearly half all counties — 1,449 — have only one newspaper, usually a weekly. The report by Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, shines the light on a silent phenomenon, the disappearance of 1,800 newspapers since 2004, and drop by half of the number of reporters covering local news. More
Amazon Expected to Make Gains on Google in AdvertisingBy Michael K. Spencer12 October 2018The battle for the future of the smart home might also be the end game for the future of advertising. With Facebook all but irrelevant there, the likely scenario is Amazon vs. Google. This is what we are seeing with Alexa devices vs. Google Home (Google Assistant) smart speakers. More
Even the Best AI for Spotting Fake News Is Still TerribleBy Karen Hao7 October 2018When Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg promised Congress that AI would help solve the problem of fake news, he revealed little in the way of how. New research brings us one step closer to figuring that out. More
Civil Just Launched. Will it Fly?By Jessica Clark5 October 2018For those wondering how the much-ballyhooed blockchain economy might help to bolster funding for nonfiction media, the launch of Civil is a proof-of-concept moment. This first-of-its-kind network of news organizations just opened the sale of CVL tokens—a digital coin that supporters can buy to either donate to participating newsrooms or play a role in deciding how the network itself should evolve. More