Media Insider: Americans Losing Faith in News Industry, Apple News Makes Headway With Publishers, The Awl and The Hairpin Shut Down

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week. 

women on social media

CNET | SARAH MCDERMOTT
Most Americans Say Social Media Is Making the News Worse

According to a new report by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, Americans believe social media is hurting the news. The poll, which surveyed 19,000 Americans, underscores the competing views and perceptions affecting American trust in the media. Among the key results: While Americans believe the internet, news aggregators, and cable news have had a more positive than negative impact on the U.S. news environment over the past 10 years, a majority of respondents say social media has a negative effect on the news environment. Also, 53 percent of respondents say they are unhappy with political leaders using social media to communicate. And while most Americans agree that “fake news” is a serious threat, less than half of the respondents could name an objective news source.

More: 10 reasons why American trust in the media is at an all-time low

COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW | MATHEW INGRAM
Europe Tries to Fight Hate, Harassment, and Fake News Without Killing Free Speech

A combination of misinformation, hate speech, and online harassment is pushing several European countries to take action against social networks. France, for example, is considering legislation that would require social networks like Facebook to be more transparent about who pays for sponsored content. It’s also thinking about giving the French media regulator more power to block or remove “fake news” content. In Germany, the recently implemented Enforcement on Social Networks Act requires social networks to remove specific kinds of content, or face fines as high as $60 million. Alison Langley, a freelance journalist and adjunct professor of communications at Webster University in Geneva, says these moves come amid growing concern about the actions of the Russian government in conducting a misinformation war online.

Some, however, are concerned these new laws will threaten democracy

DIGIDAY | ROSS BENES
Apple News Shows Promise Delivering Traffic But Won’t Make up for Facebook Shortfalls

With Facebook deprioritizing publishers’ content in its news feed again, publishers are looking for other places to diversify their traffic. Apple News is one such place. About 25 percent of the 4.5 million who read Michael Wolff’s New York magazine article about Donald Trump did so on Apple News. The Washington Post says its traffic from Apple News is growing and is among the paper’s top four sources of referral traffic. And at Boston.com, Apple News outstripped referral traffic from Facebook in December. However, Apple News remains tough for lifestyle publishers, who depend on Facebook more than other publishers. According to Parsely, a provider of web analytics and content optimization software for online publishers, about 87 percent of the referral traffic for lifestyle articles comes from Facebook.

For small publishers, here are some tips on how to adapt to Facebook’s News Feed update.

WALL STREET JOURNAL | BENJAMIN MULLIN
How Many People Did That Story Reach? It Depends Who’s Counting

As digital publishers bet big on video in search of advertising riches, many believe that a traditional method of media measurement isn’t keeping up. Publishers have long used “unique visitors” as a benchmark to compare the size of their website audiences and lure advertisers, but some media companies say the metric has become somewhat outmoded in an era when content is being disseminated widely on social media and other platforms. Publishers such as BuzzFeed, Mic, and PopSugar all publish video content directly on services like Facebook and Instagram to capitalize on the massive scale and reach of those platforms. Since audiences for these videos don’t always visit publishers’ websites, they aren’t captured in unique visitor figures.

Improving measurement will be a major focus for the media industry in 2018, predicts Marketing Week.

THE VERGE | JOSH DZIEZA
Influential Publication The Awl Shuts Down Amid a Downturn in Web Publishing

The Awl, a small but influential independent website that launched nine years ago, is shutting down at the end of this month, saying the business is no longer viable. Its sister site, The Hairpin, will also close, but two other sites, Billfold and Splitsider, will remain open for now. Publisher Michael Macher says scale has become increasingly important for securing large ad deals. “It’s a structural shift with the way media buyers and agencies relate to publishers — and for better or worse less of those dollars are falling to indie publishers,” says Macher.

Related: Writers from The Awl and The Hairpin choose their favorite stories

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Maria Perez is Director of Audience Website Operations with PR Newswire. An animal lover, she curates content for @PRNPets – that is, when she’s not busy cuddling with her 10-year-old blind Maltese, Toody.

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