Media Insider: Media Companies Take a Big Gamble on Apple, Reuters Trains Reporters to Spot ‘Deepfakes,’ How to Save the News Media

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

Apple computer, phone and book sitting on desk

Media Companies Take a Big Gamble on Apple

With the recent launch of the Apple News Plus app, major publishers like Meredith, Condé Nast, and Dow Jones put their caution aside and joined Apple’s media initiative. The app that charges subscribers $9.99 a month ($12.99 in Canada) promises to blast out content across more than a billion devices worldwide. For casual readers, Apple News Plus is a bargain. According to the article, “The Journal, by contrast, charges a monthly fee of $39 for digital access. Online subscriptions to The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired — all owned by Condé Nast — together cost more than $10 a month. The New Yorker by itself costs $7.50.” After the unveiling of the service, more than 200,000 people subscribed to Apple News Plus in its first 48 hours.

Related: One week with Apple News Plus: a messy but good-enough Netflix for magazines

How Reuters is training reporters to spot ‘deepfakes’

In an effort to prevent the spread of fake news, Reuters is training its journalists to spot fake content by creating its own manipulated — or “deepfake” — video. This fake video, produced by a specialist production company, was shared with Reuters’ user-generated content team of around 12 producers who were asked if they noticed anything odd about it. Some were able to spot the manipulation while others struggled to define exactly what was off about the video. Because of the spike in deepfakes online, Reuters has doubled the number of people who work on verifying video content from six to 12 and verifies around 80 videos a week.

But are deepfake videos a serious issue? Deepfake propaganda is not a real problem

How to Save the News Media

According to an article from The Atlantic, policy makers could do more to help the collapsing news industry. It argues that today’s problem is not the overwhelming amount of fake news, but rather an undersupply of quality news — particularly at the local, state, and regional levels. Most local news outlets can’t seem to make a profit and the federal government could help address this market failure through the tax code. According to the article, “Policy makers could keep the rules simple and let independent regulators make the decisions, subject to legal review. They could also impose a market-capitalization limit, so no current conglomerates would qualify.” Problems within the news industry continue to grow and policy makers have the opportunity to find “new ways to help anchor our digital public sphere through higher-quality, sustainable news institutions,” The Atlantic reports.

Check out this fact sheet and see why newspapers are a critical part of the American news landscape.

Stories by numbers: How BBC News is experimenting with semi-automated journalism

For the last few months, the BBC News Lab has been working with colleagues in BBC English Regions on a project called Salco (Semi-Automated Local Content) to bring rich, data-driven storytelling to its local news teams without increasing their workload. The team of two developers created a pipeline that can generate over 100 unique stories every month, giving readers immediate access to developing stories where they get local news every day. Although there are other organizations who have already implemented automated journalism, the BBC’s approach is different as they are “able to generate stories enriched with graphics and bring them to relevant audiences through our familiar online local news offering.”

Related: The Rise of the Robot Reporter

Facebook is partnering with a big UK newspaper to publish sponsored articles downplaying ‘technofears’ and praising the company

According to Business Insider, Facebook has partnered with The Daily Telegraph to run a series of features about the company called “Being human in the information age.” Some of the stories defend Facebook on hot issues it has been recently criticized over like online safety, cyberbullying, terrorist content, fake accounts, and hate speech. The series is produced by Telegraph Spark, the newspaper’s sponsored content unit, and has published 26 stories in the last month (both print and online). Although some may argue that this can mislead news consumers, Business Insider reports that “sponsored native content, in which companies pay for media organizations to produce positive articles that appear similar to traditional news stories, are an increasingly popular method of monetization for many publications.”

You can check out the series of features here.

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Joanna Giannell is a Senior Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She is also an animal lover and music enthusiast. Tune into her insights as a social curator at @PRNpets.

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