Joshua Benton
Joshua Benton
Joshua Benton is director of the Nieman Journalism Lab. Before spending a year at Harvard as a 2008 Nieman Fellow, he spent a decade in newspapers, most recently at The Dallas Morning News. His reports on cheating on standardized tests in the Texas public schools led to the permanent shutdown of a school district and won the Philip Meyer Journalism Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has reported from 10 foreign countries, been a Pew Fellow in International Journalism, and three times been a finalist for the Livingston Award for International Reporting. Before Dallas, he was a reporter and occasional rock critic for The Toledo Blade. He wrote his first HTML in January 1994.Source
Cambridge, Massachusetts
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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...

June 18, 2019
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Thanks to the Internet Archive, the history of American newspapers is more searchable than ever

Thanks to the Internet Archive, the history of American newspapers is more searchable than ever

HOME          LATEST STORY                    Feb. 2, 2021, 1:53 p.m.A stroll through the archives of Editor & Publisher shows an industry with moments of glory and shame — and evidence that not all of today’s problems are new.My two intellectual loves are history and journalism — alternately, history and its — and I’m always happy to see the two overlap. That’s the case with word that the has of — for decades the bible of the newspaper industry — and made it searchable to all.I may be one of the youngest journalists to have experienced in its period of pre-Internet glory, when it was the...

Feb 8
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Google is giving $1 billion to news publishers — to help convince governments not to take a whole lot more than that

Google is giving $1 billion to news publishers — to help convince governments not to take a whole lot more than that

Good news! Google’s going to spend $1 billion over the next three years paying publishers for their news. Specifically, the money will license publishers’ content for a new feature in Google News called Google News Showcase. That’s a billion dollars that publishers didn’t have before, and it’s better to have a billion dollars than to not have a billion dollars. (Or so I’m told.) I am squarely in the take-the-money camp here. But you have to remember: Google’s interactions with the news industry are always fundamentally about its interests, not publishers’. There’s nothing unusual or wrong...

October 21, 2020
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“Politics as a chronic stressor”: News about politics bums you out and can make you feel ill — but it also makes you take action

“Politics as a chronic stressor”: News about politics bums you out and can make you feel ill — but it also makes you take action

HOME          LATEST STORY                    Sept. 21, 2020, 12:51 p.m.“Daily political events consistently evoked negative emotions [which] predicted worse day-to-day psychological and physical health, but also greater motivation to take action aimed at changing the political system that evoked the negative emotions in the first place.”Who would buy a product that reliably makes them sad, or anxious, or worried, or overwhelmed?You wouldn’t go to a restaurant you knew made you feel ill, or listen to music that drove you up a wall, or go to a gym where the equipment gives you a new muscle...

September 22, 2020
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Who’s interested in “slow journalism”? Turns out, mostly the same people who are into regular ol’ fast journalism

Who’s interested in “slow journalism”? Turns out, mostly the same people who are into regular ol’ fast journalism

HOME          LATEST STORY                    Sept. 15, 2020, 1:36 p.m.Slow news has been pitched as a way to break through the noise and reach audiences exhausted by the daily headlines. But it’s still fast-news junkies who are most attracted to it, this new research finds., , , , : There are so many slow movements that you might think homo sapiens as a species was in an irreversible entropic downshift into the pace of slugs and snails. But of course, slow movements exist mostly to be a counterpoint to the ever-increasing speed technology seems to have brought into our lives.It wasn’t that...

September 19, 2020
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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...

July 31, 2020
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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...

July 30, 2020
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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...

July 21, 2020
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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...

June 26, 2020
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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...

September 25, 2019
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