3 to read: ‘Deep fakes’ are coming | 2d & 3d subscriptions? | Behind the curtain: FB’s big fail

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Nov. 17, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

You thought fake news was bad? Deep fakes are where truth goes to die: Fake news is about to get a lot faker. Improving technology means it is getting more and more difficult to tell doctored videos from real life. Heck, even badly edited fake videos are taken for the truth — what happens when people can’t tell the difference? A chilling look a the future of fake news by Oscar Schwartz for The Guardian. Extra: World’s first AI TV news anchor unveiled in China.

How many people will pay for 2d or 3d news #subscription?: Quartz and New York mag just put up paywalls, joining a lengthening list of high-profile, quality news pubs that have done so, such as the NYT and WaPo. But how many people can afford to pay for two, three or more news sites?, asks Joshua Benton of NielamnLab. He’s pessimistic, citing research that says only 16% of Americans will pay for any news. (Myself, I’m more optimistic. As more paywalls go up, people will of necessity read fewer sites. But from the perspective of the newsrooms, they don’t care, as long as they have enough paying customers. We’ll see how it plays out.)

Delay, deny & deflect blame at others — How Facebook’s leaders handled crisis: This story will only reinforce your worst fears, if you’ve had doubts about Facebook’s ability to come up with a successful solution in the wake of the Russian election scandal and the company’s unscrupulous handling of data from millions of users. FB’s top leaders were slow to realize they had a problem, slow to realize the breadth and depth of the issues, including the anger of the public, and seemed mostly interested in wallpapering over concerns. The NYT story paints a picture of a dysfunctional platform. Not pretty, but a great read.


3 to read: Help beyond the story | Who builds what’s next? | Missing the story (on race)

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Nov. 10, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

A journalist’s dilemma: wanting to do more to help than tell the story: So many of us have faced this situation: A tragedy. A plea for help. And after you write your story, what do you do? What help can you give? Samantha Max for the Ground Truth Project talks about how she handled that situation. Good read.

Local newspapers are shells of themselves. So who builds out what comes next?: Ken Doctor, in a somewhat rambling column for NiemanLab, sees some hope that deep pockets are about ready to get off the sidelines to invest in promising journalism models. But if that’s so, where will they invest? And what will the impact be on local journalism?

Missing the story (on race, in newsrooms): Newsrooms, despite decades of effort, for the most part are underrepresented when it comes to minorities. This, argues Jelani Cobb in CJR, is bad for the news business. When he was hired by David Carr for the City Paper, Carr explained that he was hired not because of some vague ideas of “inclusion” but because “he worried that there were specific stories missing from his newspaper.” Well, that makes sense.

3 to read: The rise of The Skimm | Crowdsourcing a mystery | Facebook’s political ad fail

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Nov. 3, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

How The Skimm went from 2-person startup to 7 million subscribers: By being really good at what they do, that’s how. They give a news summary in a chatty way that is geared towards females. The founders, Carly Zakim and Danielle Weisberg, have managed to tap into a market that only continues to grow. It’s a remarkable story of savvy growth. By Noreen Malone for The Cut.

A massive Facebook group is working to unravel the disappearance of a baby 22 years ago: This is an interesting project with lessons for newsrooms everywhere. A baby in Australia vanished more than two decades ago, and the mom was convicted of murder, despite a lack of hard evidence. Two journalists are digging into the case, with the help of more than 30,000 members of a Facebook page. What’s of particular interest is how the journalists and volunteers are managing the page to keep the investigation on track. Nice story by Laura Hazard Owen for NiemanLab.

Think Facebook is actually checking who buys political ads?: In a word: Nope. It’s depressing, honestly. Facebook talks big about stopping “fake news” by cracking down on phoney political advertising by everyone from the Russians to money-hungry teens. But when push comes to shove, Facebook does … not much. Nice investigation by William Turton of Vice, which pretended to be from the offices of the 100 US senators and bought political ads on Facebook. How many were blocked from buying? Zip, none, zero.

3 to read: Dropout to news hound | NYT goes short | Nonprofits broaden revenue streams

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Oct. 6, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

  1. How a college drop-out became a champion of investigative journalism: Bellingcat broke (another) big scoop when it identified one of the Russians suspected in nerve gas poisoning in Britain as a member of the Russian intelligence service. Give credit to Bellingcat’s founder, mild-mannered Eliot Higgins, who might have taken an entirely different career path if the technology he was playing with in college had been a little better. Jamie Doward for The Guardian.

2. Why the NYT did a short version of its mammoth Trump investigation: Because it has learned how to the web right, that’s why. Alongside its amazingly detailed — and incredibly long — investigation into the Trump family history of real estate shenanigans that enriched them all, was a much shorter piece: “11 Takeaways From The Time’s Investigation in Trump’s Wealth.” Not so long ago it would’ve been another newsroom, like BuzzFeed, which would have taken the NYT story and boiled down — earning itself more hits than the original. Those days are over. Laura Hazard Owen for Nieman Lab.

3. How nonprofit newsrooms are seeking other revenue sources (beside philanthropy): Nonprofit newsrooms are often perceived to survive only because of the largesse of one or two major benefactors. That’s not the case these days. The nonprofits are finding many different revenue streams. A good report by Christine Schmidt for Nieman Lab.

btw: No “3 to read” the next two weeks.


AI, Media and the Threat to Democracy

Interested in the intersection between Artificial Intelligence and the Media?

We have just the conference for you.


When: Friday, Oct. 12

Where: Northeastern University, Boston

Cost: Free & open to the public

My unsolicited advice: Register now. Seats filling faster than anticipated.

Keynote: Danielle Citron, Morton & Sophia Macht Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law


1. AI on the Beat: How journalists are using — and covering — bots, algorithms and whatever comes next

2. AI, big data, and bias in sociotechnical systems

3. Legal and Policy Responses to AI and the Media