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Ethan Zuckerman begins this session by noting a deep commitment to amplifying voices from all over the world. Now we’re able to do this at much lower cost than we have before. We have the ability to create and share media at an unprecedented rate. We have infrastructures that tie us all together. Theoretically, a story anywhere can influence the entire world. However, there are many practical problems to getting the stories to the right audience, and figuring out how to meet demand for different kinds of stories.
Fabrice Florin explains NewsTrust – they see demand for news as the critical problem – and identifying quality and diverse sources as an important element in helping feed that demand. They use a hybrid of aggregation human effort to rate and amplify stories. NewsTrust has a rating based on quantitative measures of the quality of stories, as rated by volunteer reviewers.The reviewers themselves are also rated, with more trusted reviewers getting a higher profile on the site.
NewsTrust builds partnerships with different media outlets, identifies topics and themes, Fabrice finishes by the observation that demand for news needs to be built up – to bring people into the conversation by participating in the review process.
Ethan asks Fabrice about the traction he’s getting – do the partner relationships drive stories, such as the Washington Post or the Council on Foreign Relations does he see change at the personal level with millions of users. Fabrice says they receive upwards of 150,000 uniques per month, with 10,000 members and growing.
Evelyn Messinger, series producer of Link TV’s Global Pulse. Global Pulse extracts small segments of news from around the world, and compares them. Evelyn first began working on this kind of project in 1987 by shipping video from all over the world. She finds that even with the ease of moving content, demand remains a major problem. Every episode of Global Pulse has 8-12 sources providing a variety of perspectives. Their goal is to develop a short format that will help drive demand, whether on LinkTV or on YouTube. The most popular stories have been about the drug war in Mexico – picked up by the U.S. anti-immigration movement, and air crash stories. Ethan refers to CNN’s “international minute” as an example of siloed nature of international stories for U.S. audiences.
Persephone Miel of Internews spent 2008 looking at how digital media technologies are changing journalism, while a fellow at the Berkman Center, running Media Re:public. Now, at Internews, she’s looking at the same issues from the perspective of international media development.
If in the 1990s and much of the 2000s, Persephone’s work focused on supporting professional media organizations in the developing world, training journalism, building broadcast networks, and working on commercial revenue models. After observing the changes wrought by digital technologies in revenue and distribution systems, Persephone now sees a need for a hybrid approach to the “cyber-utopian approach” which thinks of participatory media as the solution for information needs, and bringing in the best elements of traditional, institutional journalism.
Kim Spencer of LinkTV begins by looking at global media’s role in the digital era. 10 years ago, we were setting up independent TV networks in Kazakhstan and the Balkans, but in the U.S., with hundreds of channels, there was still a real lack of quality international content online. Hence the motivation for LinkTV. Link won a set-aside for satellite broadcast, and is now in 32 million households via satellite. But that’s Link 1.0. Link 2.0 is their website, with hundreds of videos and documentaries available from around the world. LinkTV online also has 1/3 of its viewers from outside the U.S.
Kim profiles Mosaic – world news from the Middle East – which brings the Arab world perspective to American audience.
Link wants to engage, inform, and activate views. Their future goals are to use a base of video to create links to other videos, dialogue via Seesmic, and other perspectives available in online text. Link now has a prototype of a viewer using Freebase to bring related news stories that have to do with text embedded with a given story, as well as ways to take action or participate around that issue.
Question from the room – what are engagement metrics? To this point, we’ve been looking at metrics that are based on traditional news measures. How to measure engagement at it’s most important moment, when engagement matters, and how to build a causal link to the effect of the story.
Fabrice responds that NewsTrust now can reflect back to their reviewers how their perceptions and analysis change over time. Knowing more and quantifying how people’s views change by exposure to participation and dialogue.
Kim responds that most satellite viewers are part of red-state America. In their surveys, they’ve found significant social action as a result of watching, even among this community. They measure by using public opinion surveys asking participants, and by asking activist partners to measure how their engagement.
I ask how to respond to the fact that there are now multiple audiences, and that they may not be defined in the way that media traditionally expect. How do they adapt? How do they create a vision of what their audiences are? Fabrice notes that overall, world news is the most popular topic on NewsTrust, and that they are trying to create groups to help people refine their interests. Kim notes that a surprising number of viewers are first-generation Americans; Link is also strong in the 18-35 demographic, unlike the traditional public media demographic, which is under 5 and over 55. Kim speculates that this middle demographic doesn’t like being talked down to, and that Link provides an alternative. NewsTrust has picked up university partnerships, which has changed the demographic around their site. At Link, professors use a news remix tool to help teach media literacy.