MediaShift Podcast #234: Manchester Papers Help Terror Victims with Crowdfunding Campaigns; Serial’s Julie Snyder on Success of S-Town Podcast

    by Jefferson Yen
    May 26, 2017
    Julie Snyder, co-creator of Serial and executive producer of S-Town, talks on the podcast about her eclectic tastes in emotional storytelling

    In the news this week, legacy media meets social media as the Manchester Evening News runs a crowdfunding and social media campaign to raise more than £1.5 million for victims of the terrorist attack outside a concert. And there have also been successful crowdfunding campaigns for two homeless men who helped victims and were hailed as heroes. Snapchat partners with media companies to produce shows specific to the platform, as more internal problems come to light at the newly public company. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gives $1 million to provide more legal aid to journalists in the U.S. who are battling government interference and threats. Our Metric of the Week is Social Metrics, and we speak with Julie Snyder, co-creator of the Serial podcast and executive producer of S-Town, on how she handles success in podcasting.

    Don’t have a lot of time to spare, but still want to get a roundup of the week’s top news? Then check out our Digital Media Brief below!

    "Sometimes I think that it's really lovely not to be able to see things and not to be able to see people." - Julie Snyder on audio storytelling's staying power and ability to snap judgments

    MediaShift Podcast


    Digital Media Brief

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    Host Bio

    Mark Glaser is executive editor and publisher of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is an award-winning writer and accidental entrepreneur, who has taken MediaShift from a one-person blog to a growing media company with events such as Collab/Space workshops and weekend hackathons; the weekly MediaShift podcast; and digital training, DigitalEd, in partnership with top journalism schools. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.


    Julie Snyder is the executive producer of S-Town and the co-creator of the podcast Serial, which debuted in October 2014 and has been downloaded more than 200 million times, making it the most listened-to podcast in history. Before that, for many years, she was the senior producer of This American Life, which is heard by more than 4 million listeners each week. She began working at This American Life in 1997 – almost from its inception – along with host Ira Glass.

    Top News Of The Week

    Crowdfunding Campaigns Help Victims and Heroes of the Manchester Bombing

    Often we talk on this podcast about the difficulties of legacy media dealing with the rise of social media. But after the horrific terrorist bombing outside a concert in Manchester, England, killed 22 and injured 59, legacy media outlets quickly mobilized onto crowdfunding sites and used social media to help raise funds for the families affected. The Manchester Evening News, which ran 34 pages of coverage of the bombing the day after, started a crowdfunding campaign for victims and raised more than £1.5 million within a couple days. The newspaper says it will donate all funds to the British Red Cross, which is helping the families of those killed or injured. Rob Irvine, editor in chief of the Evening News, told the PressGazette that “Our readers were asking how they could help, so we set up a Just Giving page. Their generosity has been unbelievable, and what we’re seeing is the people of Manchester pulling together to support one another at this difficult time.”

    Another British publisher, The Sun, started its own fundraising page and had brought in more than £150,000 as well. But alongside funds for the victims, there were also spontaneous crowdfunding campaigns to help two homeless men, Stephen Jones and Chris Parker, who helped out victims right after the attack. A GoFundMe campaign for Parker not only raised £41,000, but it also might help reunite him with his mother. A similar campaign for Jones has raised £27,000 and he’s received an offer of six months housing from the son of a soccer team’s executive. In both cases, members of the public sought to support the homeless men after seeing them on TV or in the papers. Once again, the power of the media to spur action and help heal a community is so crucial in difficult times like these.


    Snapchat Partners on Shows with Media Companies as Growth Slows

    Snap Inc. has been in a rut since its first earnings report showed it losing $2.2 billion, and Wall Street took a big bite out of its valuation. But Variety magazine put Snapchat on its cover this week, saying that the SoCal company was cozying up to Hollywood to create more “Snapchat Shows,” originals and spin-offs that are in a snap-style vertical video. In fact, late night hosts Jimmy Fallon, James Corden and Conan O’Brien are all producing “shows” for the platform. But they won’t be the only ones there. Snapchat also has partnerships with A&E, BBC, CBS, ESPN, Vice and others. But don’t expect to them to be like TV shows but rather more like “webisodes” with a continuously flowing stream of snaps. Users will be able to skip snaps just like on regular Snapchat, effectively fast forwarding through a boring segment.

    The question is whether all these efforts will pay off for publishers or Snapchat. Snap Inc. has been very private about numbers, but Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein got them say that “Good Luck America,” a Snapchat original, averaged 5.2 million views per show in its second season. But as Wallenstein points out, even a one-second view counts as a view, and ad revenues are split between publishers and Snapchat. Most publishers, including NBC Universal, which has a $500 million investment in Snap Inc., feel a necessity to experiment to reach a younger audience that isn’t watching linear TV. But those media companies will also need to see financial results eventually. And speaking of financial results, the internal chaos continues at Snap in the wake of its earnings report, as The Information’s Tom Dotan describes how CEO Evan Spiegel clashed with his growth team, blaming slow growth on a glitch with the Android app rather than Instagram copying Snapchat’s features. Spiegel has spurned the idea of adding more notifications for the app, so we’ll see if his turn toward Hollywood can help shore up growth issues at Snap.


    Jeff Bezos Gives $1 Million to Legal Aid for Journalists

    If President Trump is serious about “opening up libel laws,” whatever that means, then a lot of journalists are going to end up getting sued or going to jail. That’s where the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, or RCFP, comes in. They offer free legal help for journalists — including bloggers and those online — to fight against government interference and threats. And just like other organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists, the RCFP is setting records for fundraising. At its Freedom of the Press Awards dinner on Tuesday night, the RCFP announced it had raised nearly $2 million in donations to support pro bono legal services for journalists. And most astounding was a $1 million donation from Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post. That donation, the largest in the history of the RCFP, will help the organization support news outlets at the state and local level.

    The RCFP also announced an interesting collaboration with First Look Media, run by another tech billionaire, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The Committee will now help administer First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund, which will get a $2 million infusion from Omidyar along with raising $4 million more. According to Jonathan Peters at CJR, that fund has supported challenges to Freedom of Information Act denials and motions to subpoena journalists’ sources. At the dinner on Tuesday, First Look Media president Michael Bloom said that: “It’s our goal to continue offering this legal support to fearless journalists and others whose credibility and independence are threatened because of their crucial work in holding the powerful accountable.” It’s a good thing when not only are donations pouring in to help journalists fight the government, but even the donors are teaming up to work better together.


    Music on this Episode

    Can’t Hate The Hater by 3 Feet Up
    Sinking Feeling by Jessie Spillane
    DJ by Jahzzar
    Backed Clean Vibes by Kevin Macleod
    Air Hockey Saloon by Chris Zabriskie
    I Never Wanted To Say by Lorenzo’s Music
    I’m Going for a Coffee by Lee Rosevere

    Jefferson Yen is the producer for the MediaShift Podcast. His work has been on KPCC Southern California Public Radio and KRTS Marfa Public Radio. You can follow him @jeffersontyen.


    Tagged: convergence crowdfund facebook hollywood instagram julie snyder manchester evening news s-town serial snapchat terror

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