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A bigger problem than fake news?

David Uberti discusses the "fake news panic," arguing that a few cases of sloppy reporting by major news outlets can warp public debate just as much as calculated hoaxes and distortions: "Left out of most critiques of fake news is mainstream outlets’ own role in misinforming the public, and how we should compare the end effects of well-intentioned journalistic misfires to legitimate hoaxes produced to affect politics or make a few bucks off of programmatic digital ads."

Newspapers ask Trump for help

Trump with flag background

He may insult reporters and advocate weakening their libel protection, but President-elect Trump may not be a lost cause to the News Media Alliance (formerly the Newspaper Association of America), which is asking for his transition team's help on several issues, Ricardo Bilton writes: "Some of the most significant are FCC rules about media cross-ownership, which generally prevent companies from owning both broadcast stations and daily newspapers in the same market."

A plea for investigative journalism

Church interior

Journalism professor Matt Carroll, a former Boston Globe Spotlight team member, publishes his TED talk about the stakes as investigative reporting suffers in the media's decline: "In 1990, there were 57,000 journalists covering school boards, crime and doing investigations. Now there’s a few more than 30,000 reporters out there. Think about that. Half as many reporters as back in 1990. That makes it tough to cover high school football, never mind do investigations."

Fake news sites and the election

Poster reading

Communications professor Melissa Zimdars made fake news a trending story last week by posting a list (now unpublished) of fake news sites. Ken Doctor discusses how such sites may have influenced the election: "The stunning realization that some voters made their choices based on lies, and that the slim margin in this presidential vote may have profoundly changed the direction of the country and the globe, hit home." Also, why Facebook is to blame, a former Facebook news curator speaks, and a Q&A with Zimdars.

Let's not blame the fact checkers

Pinocchio in a parade

Journalists are humbled by the Trump surprise but Alexios Mantzarlis writes that fact checkers aren't at fault: "While we know that fact-checking changes readers' minds, we also know that humans are prone to the confirmation bias (looking for information that supports our views) and motivated reasoning (explaining away information that doesn't). With so many people having such strong negative feelings about these candidates, these unsavory psychological traits kick in."

A tipping point for newspaper ads

Newspaper pressroom

As major newspaper chains announce still more big declines in print advertising, Timothy B. Lee predicts that the next recession will kill off many smaller newspapers: "Over time, advertisers will realize that they can get more bang for their buck by advertising on new media platforms. And so newspaper ad revenue is likely to decline even more rapidly than its audience does." Also, IRE leaders on investigative reporting after newspapers.

The death of the honor box

Newspaper honor boxes

There once was a time when buying a newspaper meant walking to the corner with a quarter or two and picking up the latest edition from an "honor box" machine. Those days are gone, as publishers move single-copy sales to retail outlets in the face of rising prices and falling demand, Lynne Marek writes: "The disappearing boxes are another sign of the distressed newspaper industry's effort to evolve as advertisers and readers flee print products for digital alternatives."

If newspapers had ignored the web

Type in a chase

A recent academic study suggests that newspapers would have been better off sticking with their print editions instead of trying to migrate to the web, Jack Shafer writes: "For years, the standard view in the newspaper industry has been that print newspapers will eventually evolve into online editions and reconvene the mass audience newspapers enjoy there. But that’s not what’s happening." Other views from Steve Buttry, Mathew Ingram, and Benjamin Mullin.

The billionaires' war on journalism

Hulk Hogan

The Hulk Hogan lawsuit against Gawker, funded by a Silicon Valley billionaire, shows how the rich try to silence journalists, Damaris Colhoun writes: "An entire industry has been created, some of it underground, some of it wide open, all of it aimed at discrediting a journalist’s critical take. Companies and interest groups, often coached by aggressive PR firms, are investing in bare-knuckled strategies to give their media rebuttals more teeth and a wider audience."

Still more trouble for print news

Newspaper on table

The Pew Research Center has just issued its latest State of the News Media report and the news is grimmer than ever for legacy newspapers, with circulation down 7% in the past year, ad revenue down 8%, and staffing down 10%: "Though the industry has been struggling for some time, 2015 was perhaps the worst year for newspapers since the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath." Also, Rick Edmonds on the Philadelphia experiment so far.