OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: The media navigates a war of words for reporting on Gaza and Israel (The Washington Post) 

But did you know: The New York Times offers a limited mea culpa for how it initially presented news of the Gaza hospital blast (The New York TImes, Nieman Lab) 

Last week, after an explosion in Gaza, The New York Times led its coverage with Hamas’s claims that Israel had bombed a hospital, killing hundreds — an assertion that is now in dispute. In an editor’s note on Monday, the Times wrote that the newsroom “should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified.” NiemanLab’s Joshua Benton writes that most people’s issues with the paper’s coverage were with  the “high-level presentation” of the story — in headlines, in news alerts, in tweets,” then dissects how the Times story evolved. 

+ Related: Some Israeli journalists express fear about conveying dissenting views (The New York Times); Journalists in Gaza wrestle with issues of survival in addition to getting stories out (The Associated Press); Israel approves emergency regulations that could pave way to closing Al Jazeera offices (Times of Israel); Some major newsrooms tell reporters: Don’t say “terrorism” (Mother Jones) [newsletter align=right]  

+ Noted: Feminist blogging site Jezebel up for sale (Axios); The Countryman magazine in the UK folds after 96 years citing ‘unviable’ conditions (Press Gazette); Elon Musk’s X removes the New York Times’ verification badge (The Washington Post) 

API UPDATE 

API launches second Inclusion Index cohort to better engage communities of color in Pittsburgh 

The American Press Institute is returning to Pittsburgh to kick off a second API Inclusion Index cohort and support five media organizations’ efforts to better engage communities of color with an emphasis on deep community listening. The project continues the work conducted in 2022, including the return of PublicSource. The new cohort also includes City Cast Pittsburgh, a daily local newsletter and podcast; WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station; WQED, a community-supported educational public media; and YaJagoff, a podcast and blog about Pittsburgh.

TECH TALKS TUESDAY

Silicon Valley ditches news, shaking an unstable industry (The New York Times)

From Shay Totten, API’s newsroom success manager: This article sums up the “death by a thousand algorithmic and programmatic cuts” that defined the relationship between social media companies and news media in 2023.

I couldn’t agree more with this, from The Atlantic’s executive editor Adrienne LaFrance: “Direct connections to your readership are obviously important. We as humans and readers should not be going only to three all-powerful, attention-consuming megaplatforms to make us curious and informed.” She added: “In a way, this decline of the social web — it’s extraordinarily liberating.”

Amen to that. Outsourcing audience engagement, and by default revenue- and trust-building potential, to these social media giants was never a benign arrangement. I’m encouraged, however, that newsrooms’ renewed attention to building authentic and direct relationships with their communities, and readers, will yield benefits such as rebuilding frayed trust and increasing revenue. Interest in our Tech Talks series this year proved that newsrooms are increasingly looking for ways to engage readers directly. I’m looking forward to more of that in 2024, especially during the presidential election.

TRY THIS AT HOME

Surveys are the easiest (and cheapest) tool to get more out of your audiences (Medium, INNsights) 

Audience listening is key to engaging and retaining readers, and surveys are a simple, cost-effective way to communicate with your audience. After analyzing dozens of audience surveys, Allison Altshule at the Institute for Nonprofit News writes that newsrooms that get the most from their results focus less on identity-based demographic data and more on how different groups of readers approach their stories. She recommends asking questions like “How did our reporting help you?”, which were helpful both in the newsroom and in fundraising. They also give readers the option to be contacted for more information or for story leads, opening up a new source pool. 

OFFSHORE

A global news nonprofit wooed top foundations with exaggerated reach (Semafor) 

Global Press Journal is a global nonprofit newsroom focused on featuring the voices of local journalists by producing local stories and sharing them with high-profile news outlets. But Ben Smith and Max Tani write that the outlet has at times wildly overstated its reach — lumping together the total audience of all of its partner organizations rather than just the reach of its own stories. Employees say that there was pressure to inflate the reach of stories, as well as to re-write stories to be more polished even when doing so removed the local journalist’s voice. 

OFFBEAT

‘Here is the news. You can’t stop us’: AI anchor Zae-In grants us an interview (The Guardian) 

AI broadcasters have begun reading the news on stations around the world, including Zae-In, a South Korean “virtual human” news anchor. At the moment, she requires a human actor to speak and perform all the actions; only Zae-In’s face is computer-generated at the moment. The technology has not advanced to the point where an entirely virtual person can write and read the news on television; the current crop of AI anchors are closer to digital avatars. In an “interview,” Zae-In — who was developed as part of an AI girl group before “spinning off” into news — said she was nervous when she began working as a news broadcaster.

+ Related: Here’s a look at how the newly up-to-date ChatGPT reports the latest news (NiemanLab); National World debuts AI-generated weather presenter on London site (Press Gazette) 

SHAREABLE

We need local Newsrooms that serve diverse audiences for our democracy to survive (Essence)

Local news has been in decline around the country, and Black Americans in particular have suffered from a lack of representative journalism, writes Karen Rundlet, senior director of journalism at the Knight Foundation. She says that Press Forward, the new collaborative initiative committed to spending $500 million on local news around the country, will focus on “championing long-lasting change” that includes more Black-owned and led newsrooms. [newsletter]