Joshua Benton
Joshua Benton
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RECENT ARTICLES
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An open letter to the new CEO of The New York Times

An open letter to the new CEO of The New York Times

HOME          LATEST STORY                    July 30, 2020, 10 a.m.Meredith Kopit Levien, everyone seems to agree, is the right person to lead the Times into the 2020s. But here’s hoping she’ll view her mission more broadly — including the state of local news in America.  July 30, 2020 Dear Ms. Levien,Congratulations on ! We’ve never met, but I’ve only heard great things about you and I’m excited to see what you have planned.As bizarre as it may sound, it’s possible that you’re entering the job in the most comfortable situation of any Times CEO since in 1973. When , the print money was...

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Joshua Benton
Jul 31
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This is how FiveThirtyEight is trying to build the right amount of uncertainty into its 2020 election data analysis

This is how FiveThirtyEight is trying to build the right amount of uncertainty into its 2020 election data analysis

HOME          LATEST STORY                    July 28, 2020, 10:31 a.m.Our analysis finds a 99 percent chance someone will still complain about it.One of the more challenging things to represent in journalism is uncertainty. Walter Cronkite ended his newscasts with “,” not “That is certainly one possible outcome, given a wide-ranging set of externalities, the unknowable nature of even the nearest future, and the very real chance that Rasmussen’s numbers are wrong.”Of the many, many criticisms made of press coverage of the 2016 presidential election, one that’s stuck is the idea that news...

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Joshua Benton
Jul 30
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The New Jersey Shooting Suspect Left a Pro-Trump Paper Trail

The New Jersey Shooting Suspect Left a Pro-Trump Paper Trail

Roy Den Hollander, the “anti-feminist” attorney who authorities say is the chief suspect in the shootings of the son and the husband of a federal judge in New Jersey, attacked that judge by name in misogynistic, racist writings he wrote over a period of years and posted in bulk on the Internet Archive. Den Hollander, who describes himself as a Trump volunteer in his writings, called the judge an “affirmative action” case who affiliated with those who wanted “to convince America that whites, especially white males, were barbarians, and all those of a darker skin complexion were...

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Joshua Benton
Jul 21
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“Google paying publishers” is more about PR than the needs of the news industry

“Google paying publishers” is more about PR than the needs of the news industry

HOME          LATEST STORY                    June 25, 2020, 2:52 p.m.Google and Facebook are happy to pay for news — as long as it’s on their terms.Mountain View got the headline it wanted: “.”Just like Menlo Park got the headline it wanted a few months ago: “.”There are lots of ways to look at how the duopoly looks at its relationship with the news industry — as generous corporate citizens who care about the information environment, say, or as a pillaging cartel ruining society by vacuuming ad dollars.But the correct way to view Google and Facebook’s actions, I believe, is through the...

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Joshua Benton
Jun 26
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The coronavirus traffic bump to news sites is pretty much over already

The coronavirus traffic bump to news sites is pretty much over already

HOME          LATEST STORY                    April 14, 2020, 10:07 a.m.Audience numbers now look more like a standard busy news week than a global pandemic that’s captured the world’s attention. Coronavirus news fatigue has set in.Some parts of America seem to be having — early, tentative, potential — success of COVID-19 infections. But there’s one place where the curve has already gone flat: traffic to news sites. Last month’s striking surge in audience attention has ebbed week by week and has now largely washed away. Here’s what that looks like:As the coronavirus grew into a global...

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Joshua Benton
Apr 16
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These are the four waves of journalism studies over the past 20 years: the participatory, crisis, platforms, and populist eras

These are the four waves of journalism studies over the past 20 years: the participatory, crisis, platforms, and populist eras

HOME          LATEST STORY                    March 23, 2020, 1:38 p.m.“The economic problem for journalism was not competition, in other words, but surveillance and monopoly.”<academia-alert class="italian-policomm-journal">It was about 20 years ago that the academic field of “journalism studies” came into rough early shape. Sure, there were people who studied journalism long before then — but for the most part, they were doing so from the intellectual home of another field. They were sociologists, economists, political scientists, communications scholars, or part of some other academic...

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Joshua Benton
Apr 10
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Are you a local reporter doing data-heavy coronavirus reporting? This service will check your stats for free

Are you a local reporter doing data-heavy coronavirus reporting? This service will check your stats for free

HOME          LATEST STORY                    April 1, 2020, 9 a.m.“When you aren’t sure the data really says what you think, or you feel anxious about making a math mistake, walking through your process with someone else can help.”Coronavirus reporting is profoundly driven by numbers. Tests administered, cases diagnosed, deaths attributed; doubling speed, growth curves, ; county data, state data, national data.It’s a lot. And as — released under from jurisdiction to jurisdiction — have shown, the numbers don’t always say what you think they say.And some reporters not used to doing this...

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Joshua Benton
Apr 9
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“Total annihilation”: Coronavirus may just be the end for many alt-weeklies

“Total annihilation”: Coronavirus may just be the end for many alt-weeklies

HOME          LATEST STORY                    March 19, 2020, 12:28 p.m.COVID-19 is “a nearly perfect weapon against alternative weeklies.” In dozens of cities, papers are asking for donations, laying off staff, or abandoning print as social distancing dries up their revenue streams.It was only seven days ago that , the Seattle alt-(bi)weekly that was facing a financial crisis because of the city’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, which shut down concerts, bars, restaurants, and so many other events that provide the advertising fuel for an alt-weekly. “Ninety percent of our revenue —...

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Joshua Benton
Mar 20
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The Wall Street Journal joins The New York Times in the 2 million digital subscriber club

The Wall Street Journal joins The New York Times in the 2 million digital subscriber club

But will the Journal and The Washington Post be able to catch up to the market leader going forward? Or is the Times preparing to lap the field? Earnings season means it’s time for successful publishers to brag about their digital subscription numbers. On Thursday, it was The New York Times Company’s turn, throwing out some big numbers: 5,251,000 total subscriptions across all print and digital, 4,395,000 total digital subscriptions (including Cooking and Crosswords), and 3,429,000 digital news subscribers. Perhaps most impressive to me: There’s little evidence that the potential customer...

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Joshua Benton
Feb 15
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Turns out Warren Buffett won’t be the billionaire who saves newspapers either

Turns out Warren Buffett won’t be the billionaire who saves newspapers either

HOME          LATEST STORY                    Jan. 29, 2020, 2:32 p.m.By selling Berkshire Hathaway’s newspapers to Lee Enterprises, the world’s most successful investor is acknowledging the industry’s downhill slide is not near an end.Circa 2012, one of the most popular lines among American newspaper journalists went something like this: “Newspapers can’t be that terrible of a business if Warren Buffett, the smartest investor in the world, wants in.”That was the year that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway for $142 million. As : “The fact that Warren Buffett thought newspapers were a good...

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Joshua Benton
Feb 11
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Columbia’s news-industry leadership program is getting new leaders and some startup energy

Columbia’s news-industry leadership program is getting new leaders and some startup energy

HOME          LATEST STORY                    Sept. 24, 2019, 10 a.m.Corey Ford will take some of the startup-accelerator lessons of Matter Ventures into training the next rounds of Sulzberger Fellows.In 2005, — a.k.a. longtime New York Times publisher “Punch” Sulzberger — was given two pre-80th-birthday presents by his sisters: to the journalism schools at both Columbia University and CUNY. The CUNY gift went toward a scholarship fund for students; the Columbia gift created the , “an advanced management training program for executives in news organizations.” It brought in its first class...

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Joshua Benton
Sep 25
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Why do some people avoid news? Because they don’t trust us — or because they don’t think we add value to their lives?

Why do some people avoid news? Because they don’t trust us — or because they don’t think we add value to their lives?

What if distrust is a smaller problem than the way news consumption leaves readers stressed, anxious, depressed, afraid, disempowered, and exhausted? The modern digitally connected human (Homo smartphonicus, identifiable by its trademark slumped shoulders and bleary eyes) has access to more news and information than any other human in history, whenever they want it, most of it free, all of it in their pocket. But it’s not only news that they have more access to — it’s everything, from Clash of Clans to Keanu memes to old friends’ photos to Ariana Grande songs to TikTok. Those things, if...

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Joshua Benton
Jun 18
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