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Scripps Howard Unveils Journalism Leadership Fellowships, Apply Now

by Joe Mandese

The Scripps Howard Foundation Friday announced it is offering four, 12-month fellowships for an “immersive journalism leadership” program.

The fellows will be based in New York City and Washington, D.C., and the program is offered in partnership with ProPublica, Newsy and Scripps News Washington Bureau.

Applications are open Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

In addition to their immersive newsroom residencies, participants will convene for a series of workshops on leadership, project management, innovation and the business of journalism.

Each fellow will receive a salary of $50,000 plus benefits, including medical and dental insurance. Winners will be announced in March 2018.

Joe Mandese is editor-in-chief of MediaPost.

 

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Report Finds Experts Split On Digital's Role In A Post-Post-Truth World

An exhaustive study of more than 1,000 experts finds they are split over the impact that digital media will have on society’s consensus of truth. The report, “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online,” released this morning by the Pew Research Center, opens with the fact that the Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” as the word of the year for 2016, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

The study interviewed more than 1,100 internet and technology experts over the summer on their views about whether “trusted methods” will emerge over the next 10 years to “block false narratives and allow the most accurate information to prevail in the overall information ecosystem?”

The consensus was a glass half-empty view, with 51% projecting the information environment will not improve, while 49% expect it to get better.

“Both camps of experts share the view that the current environment allows 'fake news' and weaponized narratives to flourish, but there is nothing resembling consensus about whether this problem can be successfully addressed in the coming decade,” Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center’s director of internet and technology research, said in a statement highlighting results of the report. “They disagree about which side comes out on top in the escalating arms race: those who exploit human vulnerabilities with internet-speed manipulation tactics or those who create accurate information and reliable delivery systems for it.”

A key issue influencing the future is an economic one, according to the report’s co-author Janna Anderson, director of Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, who noted the information “environment can’t be improved without more well-staffed, financially stable, independent news organizations whose signals are able to rise above the noise of misinformation to create a base of 'common knowledge’ for the public.”

The second key finding urged the need for greater media literacy in society so that individuals are better equipped at differentiating “fact from falsehood.”

The 500 page report can be accessed here, but the top lines include:

The information environment will not improve and human nature is to blame. Respondents supporting this theme say humans tend to be selfish, tribal, gullible, convenience seekers. They worry that today’s powerful information actors have an incentive to keep the status quo. And they think the future will be organized around social divisions, with a segment of population finding high-quality information, while “chaos will reign” for those who cannot afford or discern reliable information or show no interest in getting it.

The information environment will not improve because technology will create new challenges that can’t or won’t be countered effectively and at scale. These responses often described the bad actors as having a leg up on those seeking to combat misinformation. They expect that weaponized narratives and false information will be magnified by social media, online filter bubbles, bots and artificial intelligence.

The information environment will improve because technology will help label, filter or ban misinformation and thus upgrade the public’s ability to judge the quality and veracity of content.Those who think there will be improvements predict that the use of algorithmic filters, browsers, apps and plug-ins will diminish the potency and availability of misinformation. They think “assessability” schemes and “trust ratings” will help, too. Some say regulation will also play a part in curbing misinformation.

The information environment will improve because people will adjust and make things better. Some of these experts argue that misinformation is nothing new and society has always found a way to lessen its impact. They say as people become more skilled in sorting fact from fiction, the information environment will improve. Some expect crowdsourcing will play a prominent role in verifying facts by blocking those who propagate lies and propaganda. Some also showed support for distributed ledgers (blockchain).

A fifth theme: Experts in both camps who said technology alone can’t put a dent in the influence of misinformation urged two strategies to combat it: Tech can’t win the battle. The public must fund and support the production of objective, accurate information. It must also elevate information literacy to be a primary goal of education.

This article was originally published on MediaPost.

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Patch: We're Still Around, Making Strides In Hyperlocal Journalism

by Joe Mandese

Patch, the hyperlocal news publisher that spun out of AOL in 2014, is gaining traction and building a loyal audience base using a combination of community news, conventional subscription models, as well as integrating with a diverse array of news feeds and aggregators.

The turnaround, which has largely been grassroots and under the radar, may come as a surprise to people on Madison Avenue, concedes CEO Warren St. John, who describes one such recent encounter in which an executive said, “I didn’t know patch was still around.”

“That’s happening less and less,” St. John says, as the company begins shifting from turnaround mode to a promotional one, though it still is largely word-of-mouth.

In a briefing with Digital News Daily, St. John cited some significant publishing thresholds, including an audience of 27.5 million unique monthly users, a gain of 25% year-over-year.

Importantly, he says the growth has been completely organic.

“We don’t buy traffic,” he explains, asserting that the gains are coming from the local community content it publishes.

He says Patch has more than doubled its editorial team to 110 full-time and a few dozen freelancers and contractors, and that many of the new additions are seasoned news community news journalists cast-off from the implosion of daily and community newspapers that have gone under or cut back in recent years.

As important as news content has been in the turnaround, St. John takes equal pride in Patch’s reinvigorated engineering team, which has rebooted almost every facet of its platform, including its internal content management system, and how it distributes and syndicates its content to other platforms and news feeds, as well as emerging paltforms such as Amazon’s voice-activated AI device, Alexa.

Patch also relaunched its “front-end” Web publishing experience and a new iOS version of its app and it is poised to launch its first Android app.

St. John says the company is just beginning to make more noise on Madison Avenue and major national brand advertisers. It recently named former Wenner Media Executive Director of Digital Sales Matthew Schulte as its senior vice president of sales.

“Until now, we didn’t feel confident that we had a product that we could go out and sell to brands. I think we’re at that point now,” he says.

This article was originally published on MediaPost.

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'USA Today' Offers Ad-Free Mobile Subscription

USA Today has launched an ad-free subscription offering for its mobile app for $2.99 a month. USA Today is offering a 14-day free trial for mobile readers. Its site will remain free, though it does
ask readers to turn off ad blockers when detected.

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Broadcast, Live Viewing Still Dominant, OTT Growing

The video landscape is undergoing sea changes, and a lot of major players with deep pockets are trying to figure out how to compete.  It's easy for us media industry folk to lose sight of the fact
that roughly half of all TV households across the country have no DVR and half have no streaming services.  And the number who have top-tier cable packages is declining.  CBS All Access, Disney/ABC,
and others are putting down markers, trying to gain a foothold into this new media world.  There's more room for them to thrive than many seem to think.

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Wall Street Journal 'Runs' With New Ad Campaign Aimed At Future Leaders

By Joe Mandese

The Wall Street Journal is breaking a new ad campaign aimed at the “leaders” of tomorrow.

The campaign, begins with an ad entitled “The Runner,” which will air on TV, in-cinema and on social media and websites. The spot depicts someone who, from birth, has never stopped running and is driven by their personal ambition. It’s intended to inspire a new generation of WSJ readers and future leaders.

The spot was directed by Ellen Kuras, a Journal reader herself, who was inspired to make a career in a largely male dominated industry.

Joe Mandese is editor-in-chief of MediaPost.

 

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Gizmodo's Narisetti Joins Wikimedia Foundation Board Of Trustees

By Joe Mandese

Raju Narisetti, CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, has been joined The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

Narisetti, a veteran media executive and journalist, with nearly three decades of experience, runs the group, a unit of Univision Communications that publishes websites including Gizmodo, Jezebel, Lifehacker and The Root.

Raju joins eight other foundation trustees.

The foundation is a non-profit organization that supports and operates Wikipedia and its sister free information and publishing projects.

Joe Mandese is editor-in-chief of MediaPost.

 

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