I am somewhat obsessed with how Substack is giving journalists new business models. Add local news to the mix, and it becomes even more interesting.

For example, Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson started The Arizona Agenda about six months ago. It’s a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics. They wrote a quarterly report about how it’s going.

Which is OK. They reached a plateau and are on track to make the bare minimum to sustain their jobs. Their business model seems to be based on voluntary subscriptions. What I found interesting was they (the only two employees of this operation) took about a month off during the holidays. No daily newsletters and no subscriptions for that period. 

And that’s the rub. These small subscription-based businesses rely on consistent updates. And without support, there’s pressure to publish or die. So I am happy these two journalists were able to take time off to recharge. But then when they came back, they had to work through constant illness.

Plan your vote

NBC has a nice interactive tool that tells you what you need to know about voting this year. The candidates aren’t set but it does inform you of voting laws and key deadlines. It’s a nice example of service journalism.

Election coverage gets real

Christopher Baxter, executive director and editor-in-chief of Spotlight PA, explains how his organization is going beyond stories and guides to help voters and protect democracy:

“That includes considering more direct services to voters, such as helplines and training people on the things we as journalists do so often, like requesting and understanding campaign finance reports, filing public records requests, backgrounding candidates, and more”

It’s a bit out of traditional newspapers’ comfort zone and resource intensive. It will be interesting to see how it works. 

Figuring out Netflix

Lucas Shaw and Yasufumi Saito did a lot of work to figure out some metrics that Netflix won’t share. They analyzed a ton of top 10 emails from the company to approximate how much time was spent viewing shows and movies. 

Which is somewhat interesting and arguably less important than a new Olive Garden restaurant. But you have to admire the work that went into it. And sometimes there are ways to figure out what organizations don’t want to tell the press.

Is that what you’re going to wear on Instagram?

Michelle Ruiz of the Wall Street Journal writes a guide on how to dress for social media. It’s supposed to help you pick the right outfit for profile pictures, selfies and live video. Personally, it’s a bit too much to worry about but useful if you want to add influencer to your resume.

Twitter moderation is tricky

Shraddha Chakradhar of Nieman Lab writes about a study that looked at how Twitter labeled President Trump’s tweets. Before it banned Trump, Twitter put labels on tweets when it found he was not sharing accurate information. The study found those labels increased engagement in those tweets.

This could be a side effect of polarization. That people would share and comment on tweets just to stick it to the liberals trying to silence Trump. Maybe non-Trump tweets that are labeled won’t get the same engagement bump. I wonder how much of that engagement was done by Twitter bots to counter the moderation.

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Media is plural: March 8-12

I curate some of the items from the daily email I write for the newsroom and am sharing them with you. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe readers miss Donald Trump now that he’s “gone” “Nearly every big news site saw its traffic decline in February, compared to a tumultuous January that included the Capitol […]

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March 13, 2021 0 comments Read the full post →

Local news on Facebook is only important if it generates revenue

I’m not lucky enough to have access to Facebook’s Today In feature. Odds are you don’t have access to Facebook’s attempt to highlight local news either. It seems kind of a rare beast to spot in the wild. So I’m relying on Christine Schmidt’s analysis of Today In on Nieman Lab. She seems surprised that it focuses […]

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April 14, 2019 0 comments Read the full post →

Is there hope for reader comments on newspaper sites?

I was familiar with The Guardian’s report on harassment in its reader comments. Unfortunately I didn’t find it surprising or shocking.

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May 1, 2016 0 comments Read the full post →

How Ross Perot helped blaze the trail for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

Clay Shirky does a multi-tweet analysis of how the evolution of media (from broadcasters to social media) has made it possible for outsiders to break the power of the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States. It’s great work but a parallel timeline could be created to explain how campaign financing laws have eroded […]

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February 18, 2016 0 comments Read the full post →

Why there is no iTunes for TV

I was listening to Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel review Apple TV on the Ctrl-Walt-Delete podcast for The Verge. Three things that you need to know about this: Ctrl-Walt-Delete is one of the best titles ever. Yes they do discuss their reviews of the new Apple TV, but it does touch upon many issues about TV and media streaming. […]

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November 13, 2015 0 comments Read the full post →

Sorry Yogi, you can’t use that drone to find picnic baskets

While I have no desire to disturb the somewhat peaceful nature of Acadia National Park, I’m bummed I won’t be able to fly drones in any national park. Not exactly a crime against humanity. But the video and photography from a drone’s perspective could be stunning. I guess we will never know. Unless the national parks […]

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June 24, 2014 1 comment Read the full post →

The drones are falling! The drones are falling!

The Washington Post has a very impressive report that covers drone crashes and near misses with aircraft in the United States. It makes the FAA’s case very nicely that drones need to be tightly regulated and restricted. Which makes a certain bit of sense. But too much control and we’re going to lose a lot of […]

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June 24, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →

What else needs to be said?

The great Northern Jerk-Off pic.twitter.com/cg6Eg0ilVd — StuffJournalistsLike (@JournalistsLike) April 22, 2014

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April 22, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →

This actually makes journalism sound like fun

@mathewi The story of daily journalism: Set 'em up; knock 'em down; baffle beyond comprehension; then explain, as to a child. — Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) April 22, 2014

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April 22, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →