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AJP’s new research on local news
After hearing from nearly 5,000 local residents across eight markets, the American Journalism Project published its findings yesterday. The report centers on nine themes, which were identified through a mix of phone interviews, surveys, and focus groups.
Here's a quick rundown of what AJP’s research suggests local residents want:
Focused, hyperlocal news
More facts, less controversy
A more nuanced portrayal of their communities
Sustained focus on the big, important stories
Better representation in local coverage
Journalists who listen, not just report
Local news that comes to them
A sense of connection
A couple years ago, I came close to starting my own local media company. My hypothesis at the beginning of the project was that local news faced a supply-side problem. In other words, people wanted great local journalism, but there just wasn’t enough of it.
But after months of research and conversations, I wasn’t so sure. I’d become more sympathetic to the view that local news had a demand-side problem. With Nextdoor, Yelp, and Citizen at our fingertips, perhaps most people didn’t need local news anymore, at least not in the way they did several decades ago.
So reading through AJP’s report, I was struck by the following passage:
Many people we spoke to in community listening acknowledge their own reticence to seek out local newspapers or news sites is part of the problem, but say the reality is that they need news to fit into their routines and media consumption habits. People say they don’t have the time or inclination to seek local news out if the information isn’t served to them on a platform they already use, in a format they like.
One view is that this “reticence” is evidence of a demand-side problem. There will always be a small subset of local news enthusiasts, but most people don’t want local news enough to seek it out. End of story.
But another view is that this “reticence” reflects not a lack of demand, but an evolution of it. Many people still value local information, but they just get it in all sorts of different ways now. Local news publishers still have a vital role to play, but they must work harder to provide unique value and reach people where they are.
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
BuzzFeed launched a recipe chatbot named Botatouille. The chatbot, which is powered by OpenAI and trained on Tasty content, can provide users with recipe recommendations and answers to other cooking-related questions. It's the latest AI experiment from BuzzFeed, which is betting big on the technology to help spur growth. Separately, the company announced that it’s launching an online storefront to sell both licensed and curated goods under its Goodful brand.
Microsoft held its Build developer conference. The company made several big announcements, including that 1) Bing is becoming the default search engine within ChatGPT, and 2) Microsoft’s AI personal assistant, called Copilot, is coming to Windows 11.
The Daily Wire is posting its podcasts on Twitter. The move comes after one of the publication’s hosts was demonetized on YouTube last month. Daily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boreing views Twitter as the “largest free speech platform in the world” and hopes that the bird app will provide “monetization opportunities and more sophisticated analytics.”
More on publishers:
A breaking news editor quit The Messenger before its launch over frustrations with workload and the publication’s emphasis on aggregation.
Comics publication The Nib is planning to shut down in August.
The founder of the Kansas City Defender was named “Innovator of the Year” by the Local Media Association.
More on platforms:
Google is planning to experiment with ads inside its conversational AI experience in Search.
Google also announced its “topic authority” system that helps surface expert content in Google Search and Google News.
Users of the Artifact news app can now flag articles as clickbait.
Meta is selling Giphy to Shutterstock for $53 million in cash.
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