Splice News media trends: The week according to Alan Soon

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week

To sign up to his newsletter, from which this content is taken, visit the The Splice Newsroom.

So it was less than 24 hours before Dr David Dao got the “no angel” treatment by the press. You’ve seen it before: The moment someone becomes a victim, the media jumps on them to demonstrate that the person wasn’t good to begin with. This immediately creates an assumption that the person must have done something wrong to deserve mistreatment. And often, the past isn’t even relevant to the story at hand. Not our finest moment as an industry and we wonder why trust and respect of media is so low.

The New York Times appears to have given up on Facebook’s Instant Articles. They’re linking people back to the NYT site because it simply monetizes better. They also found that people arriving on the site are also more likely to subscribe to the Times.

…But other media like Axel Springer’s Bild have found ways to use Instant Articles to drive subscriptions. Initially, it would take 9 steps for Bild to get a reader on Facebook to subscribe. Now, through a direct API call, they’ve been able to reduce those steps to just 3.

…Craig Silverman has a really good roundup of the Perugia conference I attended late last week, in which a “more humble” Facebook went on a charm offensive with its checkbook in hand. “What we always saw was Google was ahead in the public-facing end of news and not so much on the product side, and Facebook was ahead on the product side but not so much on the public-facing voice. And now I think that Facebook is trying to catch up on the public-facing voice very quickly.”

…Huffington Post is trying something interesting on Facebook. It’s building out small, niche communities speaking to very specific audiences — eg. A page for introverts called Cancelled Plans (like me, some of you get this!).

…Facebook rolled out a project to teach people how to spot “fake news.” Some of you (depending on your country) may see a link to these tips at the top of your News Feed.

Toutiao — China’s personalized news recommendation app — may have closed a $1 billion Series D round. This values the company at $12 billion, making it China’s largest media company by market cap.

…Mic also raised a new round of funding — $21 million in Series C. Mic has raised $52 million since it launched in 2011.

…How do you value a digital media company? Here’s a look at the art and science of it.

Jeff Bezos wrote his annual letter to Amazon shareholders with some fantastic advice on how he plans to prevent the company from slipping into irrelevance. But it’s not just for Amazon — these are great rules that should be applied to all media companies. Worth a read. “You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.”

BuzzFeed News has been ramping up its international reporting chops. And for that, it almost clinched a Pulitzer Prize this year.

Reporters Without Borders picked Taiwan for its Asia bureau instead of Hong Kong, where press freedoms have been in decline. “Hong Kong was the place where we originally wanted to open an office in Asia. It is not so easy now to run activities from there.”

Indonesia’s Tempo has been doing an amazing job working across borders, collaborating with other newsrooms in Asia on investigative pieces. This is how they do it.

A group of Chinese political activists filed a suit in the U.S. alleging that Yahoo mismanaged a $17 million fund that it created to help Chinese journalists and human rights activists. The suit claims that the fund’s manager spent less than 4% of the money on humanitarian aid, while channeling millions into high-end real estate.

In our Splice series of leading millennials, I interviewed Didem Tali, a freelance journalist who’s had the honor of writing for major news outlets around the world. She has frank advice in here for anyone looking to get into freelance journalism — and putting up with rude editors. “Please treat us like humans and pay us fair rates and on time. You are not doing us a favor by assigning us a story.”

Asia-Europe Foundation has a call out for journalists to join its ASEFEdu Young Reporter program. It promises opportunities to travel across 7 countries, telling “the stories that matter.” Details here.

Pepsi has been trying to stay fashionable for years. But when you make Kendall Jenner your world peace ambassador, you’ve clearly lost touch with the real world.

How close is too close? Here’s an interesting study of 9,000 people in 42 countries about personal space.  So don’t be offended if Romanians keep safe distance from you.

Quote of the day
“Show me a man who claims he is objective and I’ll show you a man with illusions.” — Henry Luce


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