In this newsletter you'll find a link to join our next seminar, a link to watch the latest one, and figures, pieces and threads to understand the controversy around the new Australian media bargaining code. You'll also find a job opening, an interview with the head of a pioneering innovation centre in East Africa, and a selection of articles and online events. 

🕒 This newsletter is 1,991 words, a 13-minute read. If you don't receive it yet, join our mailing list here.

📚 Our latest reports: Trends 2021 | Women and news | Trust in news 

A news publisher left Facebook. What happened next?

The event. On Wednesday we'll broadcast a pre-recorded seminar with Sinead Boucher. She is the owner and CEO of Stuff, a New Zealand news publisher which operates the country's largest news website, the highest circulation weekly, and nine daily newspapers. The event is part of our global journalism seminar series, chaired by Meera Selva. 

The topic. Sinead bought Stuff from Australian company Nine Entertainment for $1 in May 2020. A couple of months later, the company stopped its activity on all Facebook properties. At the time of the announcement, nearly 953,000 people followed Stuff's Facebook page and 134,000 followed its Instagram account. Stuff presented the move as a trial, but it hasn't reversed its decision ever since. 

Additional context. Stuff linked the decision to the controversy about the 2019 mosque attacks in Christchurch. The company stopped advertising on Facebook right after the attacks and reported extensively on the platform's failure to crack down on hate speech on its platform.

  • After taking over the company, Sinead Boucher announced a new staff ownership model.
  • New Zealand's government announced last week it would inject $55 million into public interest journalism in the next three years. 

🕐 13:00 UK time
📅 Wednesday 24 February 


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Australia's news media bargaining code

👩‍⚖️ An important law. Australia's news media bargaining code is being closely watched around the world. Under its first wording, Facebook and Google were required to negotiate commercial deals with news outlets. If they didn't reach an agreement, an arbitrator would decide. You can find a good explainer on the initial version of the code in this this link.

The platforms' response. Google responded to the code by striking deals with several Australian media groups, including Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Facebook initially blocked users from sharing and viewing news content on its platform. On Tuesday, the company announced it had struck a deal with the government.
  • According to The New York Times, the company "would get more time to cut deals with publishers so it would not be immediately forced into making payments". It would also avoid arbitration as long as the authorities agreed it had significantly contributed to the Australian news industry. You can find more details here and here.
💡 If you want to know more... here are five pieces covering different aspects of the controversy and its impact on the future of journalism worldwide: 

1. What research says. "Our research indicates Facebook’s blocking decision is likely to hurt rural, elderly news consumers the most," wrote Caroline Fisher, Kerry McCallum, Kieran McGuinness and Sora Park, with figures from the 2020 Digital News Report. | The Conversation

2. Other options? Justin Hendrix, founder of Tech Policy Press, explores a few alternatives to the Australian code, including taxes on cell phone plans and digital advertising, and diverting fines against tech platforms for antitrust violations to news publishers. | MIT Tech Review

3. A new fund? "One idea that has been gaining traction involves requiring the largest internet platforms to pay into a fund that would then subsidise journalism in some form," writes journalist Will Oremus in a piece in which he mentions this report we published in 2019. | OneZero

4. A digital antitrust policy? This piece by Cory Doctorow offers a useful overview of the issues governments need to take into account when adapting antitrust policy to the digital age. | Pluralistic

5. Our original sin? "If journalism’s original sin was giving away our work for free, then handing our users over to tech platforms comes a close second. Building a direct relationship with our readers isn’t Facebook’s concern; it’s ours," writes journalist David Skok, founder of Canadian news site The Logic, when reflecting about Facebook's blackout. | The Logic

🧶 Nine threads and pieces: Rasmus NielsenDan GillmorJeff Jarvis | Amy Webb | Uma Patel | Caithlin Mercer | Dwayne Winseck | Lea Korsgaard | Osman Faruqi

🎙 And one podcast: this one by Ben Thompson and James Allworth
How Australians get their news

The topic. Facebook's temporary decision to block Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its platform sparked a lively debate about the tech giant's dispute with the Australian government, and about the potential effects of the move. Here are seven figures on how Australians get their news from last year's Digital News Report:

39% of Australians use Facebook for news every week. As the chart shows, this figure has declined by 9 points since 2015, but it's still much higher than the figure for Youtube (21%) and Twitter (10%). 

38% of Australians say they trust most news most of the time. 46% say they trust the news they use and only 17% trust the news they find on social media. 

41% of Australians use public broadcaster ABC News to get their news at least once a week. It is the most trusted news brand in the country, and the most used online and offline. | More figures here

Come to work with us 

 An opportunity. The Reuters Institute is seeking to appoint a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow to work on the interplay between misinformation, news, and social media with an emphasis on public understanding of science, health, and public affairs more broadly. This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment with a desired start date as soon as possible and no later than 1 September 2021 until 31 August 2023. 

How to apply. The closing date for applications is noon on Monday, 15th March 2021. You will be required to upload a supporting statement and a CV as part of your online application. Applications are particularly welcome from women, black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in academic posts in Oxford.

📚 Full job description here
🙋🏿‍♀️ Apply in this link


"When launching a subscription model, it's important to create a strategy team with people who come from the newsroom and also understand digital. We are now changing our dashboards to reflect that our priorities have changed"

Borja Echevarría
Managing Editor of 'El País'
Watch his talk here

How to fight disinformation while protecting free speech

The topic. What can be done to respond to disinformation without jeopardising free expression and independent journalism around the world? This is the question at the heart of this piece authored by our Research Fellow Mackenzie Common and our Director Rasmus Nielsen. The article is an edited version of a submission on disinformation to the UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan

A quote. "From the point of view of the public, disinformation is to a large extent a problem associated with the behaviour of politicians and other domestic actors, especially on social media, and not more narrowly a problem of false information or actors with more unambiguously ill intent," the authors write, in line with our previous research.  


Read the piece
FROM DNR 2020  

Percentage of people who say that the news media do a good job in providing accurate information about climate change, across all 40 markets in our Digital News Report 2020. Those who do not view climate change as a serious problem have a worse impression of the media’s coverage, with just 16% saying they are doing a good job. Read more about how people assess the news media’s role in covering climate change in this special chapter by Simge Andi.

 Explore Digital News Report 2020 

📌 Executive summary. | By Nic Newman
💰 How and why people pay for online news. | By Richard Fletcher
📬 The resurgence of email newsletters. | By Nic Newman
🏛 How people want the media to cover politics. | By Richard Fletcher
🏡 The value of regional and local news. | By Anne Schulz
🌎 Explore the figures for every market here
📃 Download a PDF version of the report here.

🎥 A short video. The report's key findings in two minutes. Watch here
🖥 A presentation. The report's key findings in 200 slides. Find here.
📊 An interactive. Explore the figures for every country here.
📆 Launch events. Watch every launch event here.
🎙 Audio. Listen to our podcast series here

What news innovation means in East Africa

The topic. In 2019 The Aga Khan University set up a Media Innovation Centre in Nairobi in partnership with DW Akademie and with funding from the German Development Bank. The centre, led by Dr Njoki Chege, runs an innovators-in-residence programme that offers training and start-up grants to journalists from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. 

The interview. Njoki Chege has spoken with our contributor Benon Herbert Oluka about the potential of the programme and about the state of news innovation in East Africa in an interview that you can read here. "Your storytelling needs to be adaptable and inclusive. Younger audiences are quite unforgiving when it comes to poor quality content," says Njoki, who will speak at this online event on news start-ups on Thursday.  


Read the piece


📌 Applications have now closed for our Journalist Fellowships. We received a record number of applications this year, up four-fold from last year. They came from every continent and from a massive range of journalism outlets, from state broadcasters to news chatbots.

📚 Applicants want to work on boosting local journalism, increasing diversity, defending press freedom, finding sustainable financial models, and using technology for more creative story telling. It’s a tough time for the media industry but this year’s applications show journalists still have huge reserves of energy and enthusiasm to keep fighting.

  • Now we'll spend a few weeks reviewing the applications. Successful applicants for October 2021 will hear from us by the end of April.


🕵️‍♀️ Thursday 25 February, 15:00 UK time. A panel of global investigative journalists share advice on covering radical right-wing movements. Speakers include Jane Lytvynenko of BuzzFeed News and Vinod K Jose of India’s The Caravan. | Global Investigative Journalism Network

🕹 Friday 26 February, 21:00 UK time. Learn about the potential of immersive journalism and volumetric reporting with artist and journalist Francesca Panettta, who's worked at The Guardian and at MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality. | The Brown Institute

🇬🇧 Monday 1 March, 12:00 UK time. Budding reporters of the future can join this workshop hosted by young journalists about getting into the profession (UK participants only). | BBC


✊ A #metoo victory in India. "Ramani fought this battle for all of us. Not just the women who spoke up against M J Akbar but also for those who couldn’t speak up against him; for all of us." Chinmayi Sripada writes of her relief following the failed defamation case brought against journalist Priya Ramani, who alleged she was sexually harassed by a former boss who later became a government minister. | Indian Express

🌨 On rising to the moment. Bobby Blanchard, audience journalist at the Texas Tribune, shares his work during the state’s extreme weather conditions in a brilliant Twitter thread. “When there is news & readers need things, journalists rise to the moment,” he says in this magisterial description of what audience engagement should be at a time of crisis. | Twitter

🏀 A sporting success story. Financially stable and owned by its staff,, the result of a walkout from a sports news website that had been taken over by a private equity group, “is a bright spot and maybe a small miracle,” writes Margaret Sullivan. | Washington Post

🇮🇳 Social media and free speech. “There is an arbitrariness to the process, which is good for neither those being denied freedom nor those offended by the exercise of those freedoms," writes Salil Tripathi in his analysis of India’s ‘hashtag war’. He discusses how social media platforms have responded to government attempts around the world to curtail their influence and what it means for freedom of expression. | Rest of World

🇪🇺 An open call. Stars4Media, a project developed by European news media and co-funded by the EU, is calling for collaborative initiatives developed by at least two news organisations from two different EU countries. Applicants will benefit from coaching by media experts from February to June. An independent jury of media experts will assess the applications by 15 May. | Stars4Media

♿️ A neglected minority. “Disability, in too many people’s minds, is something bad that happens to a person. But to many disabled people, it is our identity. It is value neutral. There is nothing wrong with us. Instead, disability is an inextricable part of who we are and how we experience the world,” writes Sara Luterman in this important piece. She argues that those well versed in diversity have a blind spot when it comes to recruitment and visibility of disabled journalists. | Nieman Reports

🔍 Investigative journalism in Russia. Russia is "the most exciting place in the world for investigative journalism," argues Ben Smith in a piece about a new wave of independent outlets and a growing online audience that is receptive to criticism of the Kremlin. Some journalists use data sold by police and intelligence agents, prompting a debate around the ethics of using such methods. | New York Times

More information on what we do...

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Today's email was written by Eduardo Suárez and Matthew Leake.  

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