Media Insider: Report for America Poised for Growth, Magazine Readership Rises on Mobile, Social Media Bots Draw Public Attention

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

Beyond Bylines: Media Insider 10/19/18 - magazine stand

Report for America is ready to kick growth into a higher gear

Report for America aims to take action against growing “news deserts,” with plans to field 1,000 local reporters by 2022. This project, akin to Teach for America, offers to subsidize half of the cost of a reporter because expense often is the greatest deterrent to local journalism. Additionally, the project founders hope this arrangement will allow reporters to cover overlooked stories that concern readers’ neighborhoods, such as when Report for America correspondents uncovered a water system failure in eastern Kentucky. More funding will be needed to reach its goal of 1,000 reporters, but the project hopes to attract additional investors, which currently include the likes of the Google News Initiative.

While we’re talking about news deserts, the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism released this report about the more than 1,300 news deserts in the U.S.

Magazine Readership Rises on Mobile, Dips in Print

Continuing the current trend, magazine audiences for print, e-reader, and website editions are smaller than last year, while mobile web audiences grow, according to a new report from The Association of Magazine Media. Audiences for print magazines or those on e-readers shrunk by seven percent and web audiences on a desktop or laptop decreased by 16.8 percent since Aug. 2017. However, the opposite is true for mobile websites, which have seen 11.8 percent more readers in that same time period. Additionally, video magazine media has seen a significant boom in popularity, as those audiences grew by 47.9 percent.

The New Yorker embraced these shifts in digital readership. Find out how.

Newsgeist un-conference: Facebook faces the music, sort of

Phoenix saw the fifth and most recent gathering of the invite-only Newsgeist “un-conference,” which is so-called because the event has no scheduled panels, moderators, or agendas. Journalists and academics who attend the conference, which is co-sponsored by Google and the Knight Foundation, instead suggest discussions on what they see as important in the media industry. One of the more enthusiastic panels this year was “What Should Facebook Do [for Journalism]?” which included two of the site’s senior staffers, who examined how to promote quality journalism and stem the tide of misinformation.

Journalists acknowledge the impact they have on the public, following the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

Social Media Bots Draw Public’s Attention and Concern

With the increased prevalence of social media bots on popular sites, Americans distrust this AI and express concern for its effect on the media, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. A majority of those surveyed (66 percent) were aware of social media bots and of this group, 80 percent of respondents believe that these fake accounts mostly are used for bad purposes. Though public opinion strongly sways toward these bots having malicious intent, only 47 percent of this group was at least somewhat confident they could identify social media bots.

In other social media news: Facebook announced plans to crack down on stolen and low-quality content on its site

PEN America lawsuit alleges Trump is stifling free speech

The nonprofit literacy and human rights organization PEN American Center has filed a lawsuit against President Trump, alleging that his actions have “violated the First Amendment and his oath to uphold the Constitution.” Among those offending actions cited in the lawsuit is Trump’s threat of placing antitrust restrictions on Amazon following unfavorable coverage from The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. PEN CEO Suzanne Nossel asserts that his damage extends beyond the rhetoric he uses: “There is widespread concern that the president is actually extracting reprisals on the media for coverage he considers unfavorable.”

In other free speech news: Jack Dorsey on Twitter’s role in free speech and filter bubbles

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Thomas Nicholson is a Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire and science aficionado with a love for all things nerdy.

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