OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: 2023 was the worst year for the news business since the pandemic (Poynter) 

But did you know: Less than half of newsroom leaders around world are confident about the industry in 2024 (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) 

In a new industry survey of 300 newsroom leaders from 50 countries, less than half (47%) said they were optimistic about the prospects of journalism in the next year, with 12% having low confidence. Concerns include declining ad revenue, rising costs, and slowing subscription growth, as well as physical and legal harassment. Respondents also said they are worried about the drop in referrals from social media. The majority of respondents said they planned to increase their focus on news products, such as video, podcasts and newsletters. 

+ Noted: L.A. Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida to step down (Los Angeles Times); Word in Black, coalition of 10 Black publishers incorporate as public benefit company (Axios); Applications for the 2024 Advancing Democracy Fellowship are open until Jan. 19 (Solutions Journalism Network); U.S. Democracy Day celebrates two years of impact with first-ever report (Medium, Center for Cooperative Media)  

API UPDATE

Trust Tip: Use these checklists to start (or level up) your trust building (Trusting News)

For journalists who care about building trust but who might be feeling strapped for time, Trusting News has put together a checklist of foundational things news organizations can do to build trust. It includes suggestions for building trust from the beginning, such as inserting transparency into daily coverage and creating a corrections policy, as well as ideas for leveling up your engagement, such as explaining your funding and ownership structure. 

Beyond stress: What journalists covering the 2024 election should know about burnout

70% of local journalists have experienced work-related burnout. In this self-reflective session hosted by API and the Atlanta Press Club, journalists will contribute anonymously to a series of prompts to learn actionable insights for reassessing and repairing their relationships with work. The free webinar is on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 12 p.m. Eastern time. Register here.

API Tech Talks x Table Stakes: Engaging audiences amid social platform flux

Table Stakes alumni are invited to join the American Press Institute’s newsroom success manager, Shay Totten, in a conversation on how to engage local news audiences and find ways to build trust, loyalty and community amid social media uncertainty. You’ll come away with some concrete ideas — as well as a printable ‘zine — to start connecting with your community of readers. The virtual event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Not sure if your news organization is on the list? Check here.

TRY THIS AT HOME

This Brazilian fact-checking org uses a ChatGPT-esque bot to answer reader questions (Nieman Lab)

Brazilian investigative news outlet Aos Fatos is using OpenAI’s API to create a conversational chatbot called FátimaGPT. Previously, the site used a chatbot that simply returned URLs in response to readers’ questions. Now, the AI version will provide clear answers to questions, along with a source list of URLs. In the first few weeks of testing, FátimaGPT did not make any factual mistakes, and 94% of its responses were deemed “adequate.” 

OFFSHORE

‘Journalists see their role as helping to win’: how Israeli TV is covering Gaza war (The Guardian)

Three months into the Israel-Gaza war, journalists on the ground say that the media have rallied in support of the war, much like the American media after 9/11. Investigative journalist Raviv Drucker says that the media’s goal of “helping to win the war” has meant little coverage of the suffering in Gaza and minimal criticism of the military. Others say that this lack of context has made Israelis feel isolated from the rest of the world, which they feel has minimized the trauma of the Oct. 7 attacks. 

OFFBEAT

Instagram and Facebook will stop treating teens like adults (The Wall Street Journal) 

Meta has announced that it will restrict what information teenagers can see on Instagram and Facebook, blocking posts about self-harm, graphic violence and eating disorders. These new content restrictions follow lawsuits from more than 40 states, which accuse the company of misleading the public about the potential dangers of social media to young people. Teens cannot opt out of these new restrictions, and they will automatically apply to existing accounts and be implemented on any new ones. 

SHAREABLE

Asking people to “do the research” on fake news stories makes them seem more believable, not less (Nieman Lab) 

A new paper has found that encouraging people to do outside research on a false claim makes them more likely to believe that claim then less. This is because using search engines to uncover material on obscure conspiracy theories or novel theories only leads back to the original theories and those looking to promote those stories. This is particularly true of those with low digital literacy, who may simply paste a headline into the search bar and be met with similar articles rather than debunking information. 

+ Related: Elections and disinformation are colliding like never before in 2024 (The New York Times)