MediaShift Podcast #215: Fake News Gets Real with #PizzaGate Shooting; NY Times’ Public Editor Spat; Mic’s Cory Haik on Notifications

    by Jefferson Yen
    December 9, 2016
    Mic's Cory Haik joins the MediaShift podcast to talk about fake news, notifications, and native advertising. (photo courtesy of Mic)


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    "A lot of it is really propaganda and not necessarily just fake news. It's deliberate and I think that's much more dangerous." -Cory Haik

    In the news this week, fake news gets very real as a man with an assault rifle goes into a pizza place in DC targeted by online conspiracy theories. The New York Times continues to get a “Trump bump” in subscriptions, while its public editor Liz Spayd gets in hot water for criticizing reporters’ tweets. Top YouTube earner PewDiePie brings in $15 million but threatens to quit YouTube. Go figure. Politico’s Joe Pompeo joins us to discuss the Huffington Post’s new editor-in-chief, Lydia Polgreen. We grade our metrics predictions for 2016 to see how we did, and we go one-on-one with Mic’s Cory Haik to talk about the notifications craze among news publishers and how far they’ll take it.


    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!

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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.


    Cory Haik is Chief Strategy Officer of Mic where she leads the company’s strategy and growth initiatives across editorial, product and sales. Prior to Mic, Haik was at the Washington Post, leading innovative initiatives to grow new audiences on mobile and platforms.


    Joe Pompeo is a senior media reporter and POLITICO’s Morning Media columnist. He was previously a reporter at Yahoo News, Business Insider and The New York Observer.

    Top News of the Week

    When Fake News Gets Real; #PizzaGate Leads to Bullets

    Over the past month, we’ve been talking about all the implications fake news has for the media industry, but this week the toxic effects of conspiracy theories took a dangerous turn. On Sunday, a North Carolina man armed with an assault rifle walked into a pizzeria in DC, Comet Ping Pong, fired two bullets before pointing his gun at an employee. The man later told police he was there to rescue imprisoned children, except, there weren’t any there. It turns out he’d been duped by a widely circulated piece of fake news linking the pizza shop to a child sex ring and the Clinton campaign. Luckily, no one was seriously injured and hopefully, this will cool off the #PizzaGate conspiracy somewhat. Many other nearby businesses have been harassed and now the police and FBI are taking those threats seriously.

    In other fake news this week, Facebook is working on a new feature called “Collections,” according to Business Insider’s Alex Heath, that would be a walled garden of sorts like Snapchat Discover. According to Heath, publishers would get content inserted into the News Feed, but advertising revenue splits aren’t clear yet. Meanwhile, The Verge’s Kyle Chayka reported that fake news has a big advantage in Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles: the design looks the same as legitimate sources for news. Chayka wrote: “By design, social networks and search engines have taught us to consume what they provide as fact.” Chayka thinks the platforms will eventually have to ban fake news sites from AMP and Instant Articles. And finally, The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr explained how Google search was susceptible to propaganda, fake news and hate speech. She typed in “Jews are” and the autocomplete added “evil” and showed 9 out of 10 search results that were anti-semitic. She got similar results about women and Muslims, and dug into how right-wing propagandists had mastered the art of misinformation online, in support of Brexit and Donald Trump’s campaign. Google did quickly make a fix to those search results, but it’s unclear how quickly they can react to so many bad actors.


    The New York Times Continues Its ‘Trump Bump’ While Its Public Editor Slams Reporters’ Tweets

    It started after Election Day, and it’s only getting bigger: The “Trump bump” for news subscriptions has been a boon for the New York Times, in particular, which has now hit 2.5 million subscribers, according to Politico’s Ken Doctor. Doctor says the Times has been clocking 10,000 new subscribers on some days, which is 20 times the rate of sign-ups a year ago. Doctor calculates that these new subscribers could add $30 million to the bottom line for the Times next year. And they could be sticking around, if you compare the Times’ bump to that of the Financial Times, which had a big boost after Brexit and has largely kept most of those new subscribers. Doctor said that the New York Times had more than just Trump to thank for the increase, noting that the company has tightened up how many articles people can read through Facebook links, and has dropped the number of stories it publishes through Instant Articles.

    Meanwhile, the Times’ public editor Liz Spayd got into trouble on Tucker Carlson’s new Fox News show. She was asked about tweets from Times reporters that she thought were “outrageous” and over the line. Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton tweeted: “White House as QVC. It has started,” while Jerusalem Bureau Chief Peter Baker tweeted: “For a new president from reality television, a cabinet selection that resembles a pageant.” Spayd thought some of the tweets should lead to “consequences” for reporters, but the biggest attacks afterwards were on Spayd for calling out Times reporters. New York Magazine’s Max Read called Spayd “the worst possible public editor for the Trump era.” And this gets to the main problem with reporters on social media: they want to connect with people, show that they’re real people, with real opinions, but this also subjects them to partisan attacks. Media companies often do restrict opinions on social media, but they still need to allow personality, so it’s a hard balance to keep — especially as the president-elect keeps pushing boundaries even further on social media.


    And finally: PewDiePie Tops YouTube Earners with $15 Million, and Threatens to Quit YouTube

    Let me say that again: $15 million in annual revenues. So we’re not talking about chump change. Swedish vlogger Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg or PewDiePie as he’s known on YouTube, is the platform’s top earner for his wacky commentaries while playing video games. According to Forbes’ Madeline Berg, the second highest paid YouTuber made just over half of what Kjellberg made last year. His earnings include royalties from a YouTube Red series along with a book called “This Book Loves You.” But all’s not well with the YouTube sensation. According to Kjellberg , the platform has been making it harder for people to find his content and he threatened to delete his channel once he hit 50 million subscribers.

    But even if this was all an elaborate troll to get more subscribers he hasn’t been the only one up in arms about a change in YouTube’s subscriber counts. As reported by Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio, multiple personalities on the platform have been calling shenanigans in the past couple of weeks. YouTube for its part has said they haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary occurring with subscription counts and views. They say they regularly cull subscribers that are fake or spam. As for the threat to delete accounts and leave YouTube, this has become a recurring genre in and of itself. According to Ben Popper at The Verge, “a video declaring you’ve quit YouTube is kind of the ultimate clickbait, a way for the artist to stage their own death and return refreshed.” For PewDiePie, his video about quitting now has 13 million views and counting, so actually leaving the platform might not be the best strategy in the end.


    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



    Thanks to our podcast sponsor, .PRESS domains. Get www.yourname.press and build your website with an easy-to-use website builder tool. Log on to www.domains.press to learn more.

    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: cory haik donald trump fake news joe pompeo mic new york times pewdiepie youtube

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