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Putting a Price Tag on Local News: Americans’ Perceptions of the Value and Financial Future of Local NewsNovember 17, 2019
A crisis faces local newsrooms across the nation. News publishers have, for over a decade, competed with search engines and digital platforms, not only for their readers' attention, but also for advertising revenue. At the same time, we have seen decades of growing distrust and partisan antipathy toward institutions of all kinds, including journalism. Local newspapers are especially vulnerable to these trends. As a result, there have been waves of consolidation, often resulting in fewer newsroom jobs. Particularly controversial have been acquisitions of newspapers by private equity investors, often followed by debate about how the newsroom is managed by its new ownership.This Gallup/Knight Foundation study seeks to better understand whether Americans care about the fate of local news organizations, what they value about these organizations and what could be done to make more of these organizations financially sustainable. The results are sobering, but they also point toward potential solutions for addressing some of the economic challenges facing many local news organizations.
This report examines trust in media, showing that many young adults use news media to make decisions on policies and voting. It reveals that a majority of young adults are concerned about the impact of news on democracy and unity in the country, expressing that news organizations might divide and polarize citizens. Conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, the report analyzes the findings of a survey of 1,660 adults between the ages of 18 and 34. It also surveyed large samples of African American and Hispanic participants to explore beliefs and behaviors across races and ethnicities. The study shows that young people believe some news sources are actively hurting democracy and corroding national unity. Sixty-four percent of young adults say their least-liked news source hurts democracy and 73 percent say their least-liked news source divides the country. Only 47 percent say their favorite news source helps unite it. When comparing partisan attitudes, 51 percent of Democrats say their favorite source unites the public, while 42 percent of Republicans say the same.
How did misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election and has anything changed since? A new study of more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 misinformation and conspiracy news outlets answers this question.The report reveals a concentrated "fake news" ecosystem, linking more than 6.6 million tweets to fake news and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election. The problem persisted in the aftermath of the election with 4 million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers found from mid-March to mid-April 2017. A large majority of these accounts are still active today.
As part of its ongoing Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, the John S. and James L.Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup to ask a representative sample of U.S. adults for their views on the news editorial functions played by major internet companies.
Technological advances have made it easier for Americans to connect with each other and to find information, including details about the major issues facing the country. But those advances present both challenges and opportunities for individuals and U.S. institutions. Not only is more information readily available, but so is more misinformation, and many consumers may not be able to easily discern the difference between the two.Amid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to fulfill their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable. Results of the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy show that most Americans believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources. They believe the media continue to have a critical role in our democracy but are not very positive about how the media are fulfilling that role.The research reported here is based on a nationally representative mail survey of more than 19,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This project received support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Open Society Foundations.
In April and May of 2017, Edison Research — with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — conducted a series of online interviews with podcast listeners across a group of major podcast publishers. We collected a total of 28,964 interviews with podcast listeners 18 years of age or older, who listened to at least one audio podcast from one of six sources: National Public Radio, WNYC, American Public Media, WBUR, PRX and Gimlet Media. (For more on the methodology, please see the appendix.)
This report builds on the prior analyses by continuing to benchmark revenue, expenses and audience metrics and to identify emerging best practices. The report analyzes trends and impact among 20 local, state and regional nonprofit news organizations. It also incorporates insights from interviews with leaders of a few additional nonprofit news organizations that have a predominantly national scope. Many, though not all, of the organizations included in the study have been funded by Knight Foundation.
Since the turn of the 20th century, the nation's colleges and universities have successfully prepared American journalists. From high-brand Columbia University, to entrepreneurial Arizona State, to the personal-touch liberal arts of Hiram College, academia has in diverse but effective ways adapted to meet the changing needs of the profession it serves. But as the news-and-information ecosystem morphs to digital first, many of the nation's most prestigious programs are scrambling to keep pace.
The debate over regulation of the Internet may be one of the most important of our day. Companies that have invested billions in Internet infrastructure contend that they need the ability to manage their networks, prioritizing some content over others to maintain service, and charging for higher speeds. Advocates of net neutrality see the Internet as a utility, essential for individual learning, working, civic participation and free expression, as well as economic competition and innovation -- too important to have fast lanes and slow lanes, with the fastest speeds going to the highest bidder.The debate intensified this year, when the Federal Communications Commission invited public comment on new proposed regulations that stop short of the standards demanded by net neutrality advocates. The call elicited 3.7 million comments, as well as a storm of debate on Twitter and an avalanche of press coverage. Subsequently, President Barack Obama aligned with net neutrality supporters,but the new rules remain to be written. The technical complexity of Internet regulation, and lack of direct historical precedent, make it difficult to engage the public in an informed debate and develop regulations that will remain effective over time. To tackle these challenges, both policymakers and citizens need to better understand public opinion, amid a torrent of organized advocacy from both sides. Knight Foundation partnered with Quid, a data analytics firm, to separate the signal from the noise.
This report was based on an online survey fielded in July of 31 newsrooms nationwide ranging in staff size from 20 to 150. Overall, roughly two-thirds of the journalists surveyed they have received training in the past 12 months. The leading category of training was social media. A full 88 percent of the journalists surveyed said they are able to absorb more training. The most desired form of training? Social media, followed by digital tools and video skills. The percentage of journalists reporting training in the past 12 months varied greatly from newsroom to newsroom. In one, only 17 percent of the journalists said they'd had training in the past year; in two others, it was 100 percent.
In this survey students are speaking up about speaking out. Today's high schoolers are more supportive of First Amendment rights than at any time during the past decade, while adults are more likely to say the First Amendment "goes too far." As students become more and more connected to the neverending news streams in cyberspace, as they add their voicesto the global conversation, is it any wonder they seem to know more, to care more, about the freedoms that make thispossible?
How someone gets to a news organization's website says a lot about the level of engagement and loyalty he or she displays toward the site and its content, according to this report. In this study of U.S. internet traffic to 26 of the most popular news websites, direct visitors -- those who type in the news outlet's specific address (URL) or have the address bookmarked -- spend much more time on that news site, view many more pages of content and come back far more often than visitors who arrive from a search engine or a Facebook referral. The data also suggest that turning social media or search eyeballs into equally dedicated readers is no easy task. These are among the key findings that detail how 1 million people enrolled in one of the nation's most popular commercial internet panels have been connecting through their desktop and laptop computers with the most accessed or shared news sites of our time.
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