Friday 14th June: The media support system needs an upgrade

Good morning! Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Chris, freshly recovered from this year’s Publisher Podcast Awards.

I’ve just written a piece that examines the difference between US and UK populations when it comes to supporting local news outlets. I’ll pop that in this newsletter when it’s published — but I mention it here because many of the assumptions in this otherwise fascinating piece are extremely US-centric, particularly when it comes to claiming that it’s been proven that “a significant number” of people will pay directly to support news. I’d argue that has absolutely not been proven yet — especially when it comes to the wider local news ecosystems elsewhere.

It almost seems that the piece then reverses course, arguing that: “Readers are well-served and grateful for coverage of the day-to-day news of the community. However, every newsroom yearns for the space and resources to also do work that goes deeper, that holds the powerful accountable, that has impact and drives change.” So if not enough people are paying for newsrooms to do that vital work, which is in many ways the point of the fourth estate, in what sense is it proven?

There’s a lot of good insight in here, though. I enjoyed the argument that decentralised resources are necessary — at least for now — to support newsrooms in creating excellent journalism of the sort that will encourage people to pay, and there are some excellent examples of how that is already been done.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has been pumping out great public-interest stories since its inception. Next up on its investigations list? Attempting to find out how it can diversify itself away from relying on money from foundations. I’m hopeful that it can reach its target of paying members — it absolutely deserves it.

It’s the end of an era, even if it’s an unsurprising one. As a lot of people pointed out at the time the closure of the Standard’s daily edition was announced, blaming (in part) access to the internet on tube platforms suggests a lack of foresight from the owners and investors. The i has taken a look at some of the other reasons behind the decision.

This is a really comprehensive look at Yahoo’s new free-to-download news app, including a look at where some of the underlying tech originated. But it did make me wonder — as I’ve been thinking about for some time now — how much the touted AI is actually just the same tools publishers have been using for years with a 'Powered by AI’ sticker slapped on to boost the apps reputation among investors, advertisers and partners who keep hearing about this ‘AI’ thing and want everything to have it.

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