Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Ken Doctor: Six months after launching a local news company (in an Alden market), here’s what I’ve learned
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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.
June 17, 2021
“To help us understand how minor differences ultimately can have big impacts, some bias researchers have done the math for us. For example, performance evaluations are fertile ground for implicit bias. Research shows that gender and race bias affects whether we can remember the contributions an employee has made, how much credit we give them for successes, and how much blame we heap on their heads for failures. On average, we simply give more credit to white males, along with the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong.”
Current / Celeste Headlee / Jun 17
“The AP Stylebook’s guidance of ‘be specific’ reinforces the notion that disabled people have to keep explaining their symptoms or disabilities to be taken seriously. Disabled people often spend lifetimes having to justify having ‘off’ reactions to what an able-bodied and/or neurotypical person otherwise finds to be “normal” or ‘fine,’ such as having sensory issues from wearing a mask.”
The Objective / Jen Ramos / Jun 17
“No, BuzzFeed is not promising to pay people for the mere act of writing for them. Of course not — that would be ridiculous! They are promising prize money to any ‘community writer’ (read: people they are not employing in any way) who manages to crack a minimum of 150,000 page views. This, as anyone who has ever worked in the business of needing page views to see another day of work will tell you, is a real nightmare of a proposal.”
Discourse Blog / Samantha Grasso / Jun 17
“Over a 55-year career, Ms. Malcolm produced an avalanche of deeply reported, exquisitely crafted articles, essays and books, most devoted to her special interests in literature, biography, photography, psychoanalysis and true crime. Her writing was precise and analytical; her unflinching gaze missed nothing.”
The New York Times / Katharine Q. Seelye / Jun 17
“Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model. But so far, Instagram is declining to share any sort of performance metrics around how those ads are doing, based on tests. Nor is it yet offering advertisers any creator tools or templates that could help them get started with Reels ads. Instead, Instagram likely assumes advertisers already have creative assets on hand or know how to make them, because of Reels ads’ similarities to other vertical video ads found elsewhere, including on Instagram’s competitors.”
TechCrunch / Sarah Perez / Jun 17
“The deal with Condé Nast includes base pay of $55,000 for employees at all three unions, rising to $60,000 by April 2023. Under the agreement, many employees at the three publications will receive wage increases of at least 10 percent, the unions said in a statement. The agreement includes a cap on increases for health care costs and defined working hours. Contracts will also include a “just cause” provision stating that managers must provide specific reasons before disciplining or firing employees.”
The New York Times / Katie Robertson / Jun 17
“As for Spotify Greenroom’s feature set, it’s largely on par with other live audio offerings — including those from Clubhouse, Twitter (Spaces) and Facebook (Live Audio Rooms). Speakers in the room appear at the top of the screen as rounded profile icons, while listeners appear below as smaller icons. There are mute options, moderation controls and the ability to bring listeners onstage during the live audio session. Rooms can host up to 1,000 people, and Spotify expects to scale up that number later on.”
TechCrunch / Sarah Perez / Jun 17
“The case brought by Johnny Ryan centres on the data shared between ad brokers and other firms while ad space is being auctioned as a site loads. It’s known as real-time bidding.”
BBC News / Zoe Kleinman / Jun 17
“In a FAQ about the service, CNN explains the rationale to launch the ‘Vault’: “Until now, there has been no way to ‘collect’ these moments. Users can often find old footage online, or packaged up in documentaries, but they cannot ‘own’ them or display them in the way they can with a print newspaper or magazine.”
The Hollywood Reporter / Alex Weprin / Jun 17
“It’s all too easy, though, to confuse ‘imagination’ with ‘innovation,’ that elusive capitalist promise that working harder and being smarter will yield economic benefits. The past decade has proven that the traditional local news model cannot innovate itself out of the mess it’s in: innovation cannot reverse vulture investments, break up tech monopolies, or compete with ubiquitous free junk news. And while innovation measures the financial benefit of making things better, imagination might tether improvement to public service instead.”
Columbia Journalism Review / Lauren Harris / Jun 17