Nieman Foundation at Harvard
How do audiences decide what news to trust? Fairness and accuracy aren’t the only things that matter
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What We’re Reading
We keep an eye out for the most interesting stories about Labby subjects: digital media, startups, the web, journalism, strategy, and more. Here’s some of what we’ve seen lately.
April 23, 2021
“By definition, the people thriving on Substack are the very sort whose work gets readers to pull out their credit cards and subscribe. The threat it poses to news, then, is best understood as an economic one. And that leaves media companies with two choices: find ways to compete with Substack or rethink what it is that they offer that Substack can’t or won’t.”
Slate / Will Oremus / Apr 23
“We reject this decision categorically and intend to challenge the designation in court. At the same time, we understand that the chances of overturning the Justice Ministry’s actions are slim. This is bad news for Meduza. ‘Foreign agent’ is a discriminatory status in Russia that will make it harder for us to do our job and earn a living.” Nieman Lab covered Meduza’s English-language edition here.
Twitter / Meduza in English / Apr 23
After Substack and Stripe fees, Luke O’Neil expects to make $104,000 this year. “I am 43 and have freelanced for 20 years, while still waiting tables on the side until 37, and I made over $60,000 like three times before my newsletter.” Other writers report making a few hundred dollars per year. SS
Business Insider / Steven Perlberg / Apr 23
“Pushkin said every original audiobook is assembled by a team consisting of at least one writer, producer, researcher, sound engineer, editor, fact-checker and lawyer to provide a legal review. The higher production costs don’t come from labor alone: Each book includes archival clips and music that often need to be licensed, and frequently includes an original score.”
WSJ / Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg / Apr 23
“There’s still a place for journalistic stories about the wonders of science. But the past century has proved that this is not the most important contribution of science reporters.”
Science / Deborah Blum / Apr 23
“Personally, I find the speculation fascinating. I think it’s indicative of how nobody really knows how to value journalistic output. The media industry tends to undervalue its staffers relative to their contributions and most journalists I know underestimate their worth.”
Substack / Charlie Warzel / Apr 23
The Spotify program will allow podcasters to set their own pricing, too. (We wrote about Apple introducing premium podcasts earlier this week .) SS
WSJ / Anne Steele / Apr 23
“During covid, we saw kids and pets sashay in the background of live TV interviews and found it cute, not disconcerting. As long as the journalist got the job done well, no one complained. It was understood that a journalist wasn’t just a journalist but also a parent or partner or cat sitter or dog lover or someone who wore pajamas and slippers, too.”
Nieman Reports / Issac Bailey / Apr 23
“The network detailed its plans Tuesday in an email to member station leaders, the same day that Apple announced that it will enable subscriptions on its podcast platform. NPR and PRX will partner in the launch of Apple’s subscriptions, slated for May. NPR will also partner in a similar forthcoming initiative from Spotify.”
Current / Tyler Falk / Apr 23
NOWCastSA, a digital news site, has been based in San Antonio’s Central Library since 2010. “In the library, you’re going to find out more about what’s going on in your community than you will in a newsroom.”
Poynter / Kristen Hare / Apr 23