The front page of today’s New York Daily News:
John Oliver’s brilliant dissection of the problems facing America’s newspapers, the bedrock of the national press, finds confirmation in two charts from State of the News Media 2016, the latest annual report on the state of American journalism from the Pew Research Center.
First up, the bad news about the news business as reflected by the falling numbers of folks who pay to have the news deilvered to the front doorstep:
And then there’s this grim graphic on the vanishing American newspaper reporter, especially journalists who are women or belong non-Anglo ethnic groups:
With aa growing number of newspapers now in the hands of investment bankers, it’s no surprise to discover that papers are hiving off their most lucrative holdings into separate companies.
By splitting print from television and radio, the profit electronic money spinoffs aren’t freighted down with the burden of having to carry their dying former partners, the subject of today’s Chart of the day, via the Pew Research Center:
In the past two years, several media companies that own both print and broadcast properties have spun off their newspapers and other print products into separate publishing companies to isolate this troubled sector from their more profitable broadcast stations. And this strategy has largely paid off.
Gannett Co. Inc., Tribune Company, and E.W. Scripps Co., which together own more than 100 newspapers and more than 70 television stations, all made the decision in 2014 or 2015 to spin off their print properties into separate companies. An analysis of the spinoffs shows that the broadcasting components of the original companies (which also retained many digital properties) have mostly outperformed their publishing counterparts in terms of operating profit margins and stock prices.
Needless to say, the trend is bad new for folks who love the news, given that, as John Oliver recently and reasonably pointed out, its the newspapers that account for much of the news carried by the electronic media.
Oliver’s brilliant commentary aroused the ire of David Chavern, CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, the industry’s trade organization and lobby.
But then Chavern isn’t a newspaper sort at all. His last job as as COO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Sure, we all knew it, but it’s nice to see confrmation.
From Ohio State University:
A new nationwide study suggests why heavy users of partisan media outlets are more likely than others to hold political misperceptions.
It’s not because the people using these sites are unaware that experts have weighed in on the issues. And using ideologically driven news only sometimes promotes misunderstanding of what the evidence says.
“Partisan online media drive a wedge between evidence and beliefs,” said R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
“The more people use these sources, they more likely they are to embrace false claims, regardless of what they know about the evidence.”
Partisan media have effects on both Democrats and Republicans, the researchers found.
Strikingly, use of partisan media contributed to misperceptions above and beyond the influence of partisanship itself.
“What you believe isn’t just about what party you belong to. Where you get your news matters, too,” Garrett said.
Garrett conducted the study with two former graduate students: Brian Weeks, now with the University of Michigan, and Rachel Neo, now with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Their results appear online in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication [open access] and will be published in a future print edition.
Garrett said that the study’s focus on changes in media use and political beliefs over time gives the researchers a unique opportunity to understand how these two factors influence one another.
Data came from a three-wave panel study conducted during the 2012 presidential election. Participants were interviewed first during July-August 2012, a second time in August-October and a final time in November. A total of 652 nationally representative participants completed all three surveys.
All participants were asked about their knowledge of and beliefs about four different issues in the campaign, two of which favored Republicans and two that favored Democrats.
The well-documented falsehoods favored by Republicans were the claims that President Obama was not born in the United States and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Democrat-favored misperceptions were that Mitt Romney actively managed Bain Capital when the firm started investing in companies that outsourced work abroad, and that there was an immediate drop in marine life diversity in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill.
The researchers measured how often participants visited websites characterized as favoring liberal positions, including the New York Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, ThinkProgress and Daily Kos; and those favoring conservative positions, such as the Wall Street Journal, FOX News, Drudge Report, TownHall and Cybercast News Service.
One explanation for why partisan media encourage misperceptions is that their users are sheltered from the truth. For example, it is sometimes suggested that viewers build their own “echo chambers” where they never hear facts that contradict what they believe. But there is no evidence of that in this study, Garrett said.
“In fact, we found modest evidence that the opposite sometimes occurs – people who were heavy users of ideological news sites were more likely to say they’d heard evidence related to one of the issues,” he said.
There’s more! Continue reading
Back during our first year of posting here at esnl, we took an in-depth look at the demonization of Muslims in America’s films and television shows, the subject of the insightful documentary Reel Bad Arabs.
Back when esnl was a kid in the days just after World War II, screens large and small were dominated by villains who either spoke with German accents [“Vas ist das, dumbkopf?!“], pseudo-Japanese accents [You know very rittle, Amelican!”] or in Hollywood’s version of how Native Americans spoke [“How,” being the greeting, often followed by “Me big chief.”]
But these days, thanks to the massive blowback from the armed petro politics of Bush I-Clinton-Bush II-Obama/Clinton era, screens large and small are dominated by villains who pray toward Mecca and say things like “Time for you to die, infidel!”
If you suspect that all those negative portrayals of Muslims might be having an adverse impact, you’d be correct.
From Texas A&M University:
What if most or all you know about Muslims is from what you see in the media — terrorists depicted in movies and TV shows, news reports on suicide bombings and mass shootings. What would your perception of Muslims be? Would you have stereotypical beliefs and negative emotions about them, and would you support policies that are harmful to them? Very likely, according to research co-authored by a Texas A&M University professor.
In “Reliance on Direct and Mediated Contact and Public Policies Supporting Outgroup Harm” [$6 read-only for 48 hours, $38 to read and print out], published in the Journal of Communication, Srividya Ramasubramanian, associate dean of liberal arts and professor of communication at Texas A&M, and her co-authors, used multiple studies, surveying non-Muslims on how much they relied on direct contact with Muslims versus media-based contact. Then they measured participants’ negative emotions toward Muslims, perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, support for civil restrictions against Muslims, and support for military action against Muslim countries.
“We observed that almost on a daily basis, media depictions of Muslims are extremely negative,” Ramasubramanian says. “Almost without exception, they are portrayed in stereotypical ways as violent, criminal and extreme. Islamophobia is on the rise and even some American political leaders have expressed hateful sentiments towards Muslims.”
The researchers found a correlation between people who rely on media depictions of Muslims and having negative attitudes, versus those with direct interactions who were less likely to view Muslims negatively.
“Our findings show that individuals who rely on the media for information on Muslims have greater negative emotions toward Muslims and increased perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, which in turn leads to support for civil restrictions against Muslims and military actions against Muslim countries,” says Ramasubramanian, who studies media psychology and cultural diversity, especially the effects of media stereotypes on users’ attitudes, emotions, and policy support towards marginalized groups.
There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading
The latest edition of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver offers a most brilliant, incisive picture of everything that’s wrong with American journalism in our brave, new digital age.
Its both hilarious and tragic, and incorporates many of the themes we’ve been featuring here at esnl.
And most importantly, the segment hammers on one of our favorite themes: The bedrock roll played in all journalism by the community newspaper.
Oh, and, yeah, without that foundation, corruption flourishes.
The segment also features the Las Vegas Review Journal, the paper where we got our start in daily journalism, and Sam Zell, the former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune owner [among others] who is now the biggest apartment owner here in Berkeley.
From Last Week Tonight:
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Journalism
The newspaper industry is suffering. That’s bad news for journalists — both real and fictional.