tv Quartz Editor Kevin Delaney at UC Berkeley CSPAN April 17, 2019 11:38am-12:38pm EDT
littleton, the families involved the sure knowledge that all of america cares for them and is praying for them. columbines ago, the high school shooting was one of the deadliest shootings in american history. on friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, we look act on the shooting and provides a reflection on the tragedy. x at that time, columbine had never happened, and neither the parents or the school counselor looked at the issue of a violent paper as something that was indicative of the possibility of some real deterioration in thinking. 1999tch our special on the columbine high school shooting, friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. next, the founding editor of "courts," kevin delaney, discusses the future of digital journalism, including the decline of facebook and google's
dominance. this is an hour. >> good evening, everyone. nicholas, i'm the director of the berkeley center for new media. the host with the graduate school of journalism of our lecture here tonight. it is my great pleasure to to the kevin delaney art and culture technology series, since its founding in 1997 by my colleague, this series and expansion has been part of the berkeley center for new media. in 2005, it has been leading both thinkers and practitioners at the intersection of arts, culture, technology, and design to the berkeley campus. 2016, we have also been proud to anticipate -- participate in this evening's framing and organizing of the series, arts and design monday's
series organized by the associate vice chancellor and her office. we are particularly grateful to shannon and her office for covering the rent here at the theeley art museum and pacific film archive, which helps us all to speed to you in such a wonderful venue. [applause] thumbs up. tonight, it is the second and an annual series inaugurated with last years ,onversation with nick thompson examining the future of the news media and its role in shaping the future. i think it is particularly appropriate, then, that we also share to nice conversation with -- share tonight's conversation with the cameras of c-span, unimportant tool of technology and media in the public service, which is very much in line with the larger mission of this great public university. peoplehink of few
more qualified to speak with us .bout this then kevin delaney he cofounded the wisdom right -- cofounded the website in 2012, or in a time when the news media sociallycompromised by driven information economies, courts has thrived. kevin's grounding for the remarkable success of courts clearly lies in his previous experience. not only is the managing editor of the wall street journal's website, where he successfully led efforts to greatly expand the online readership with award-winning, dedicated digital features, but also in his previous experience covering technology is a correspondent for the journal in the bay area and europe. quartz'sand -- international strategy is to cover undercovered regions of the globe with thriving and
gracious audiences as part of its many remarkable strengths and is reflected in kevin's current membership of the council on foreign relations. we are to truly ground kevin's current achievements in his past and values, i would tell another, maybe slightly more embarrassing story. i did not know kevin well as an undergraduate, even though we overlapped at yale. thankfully, we rectify the situation quickly after we both graduated, and i got to know kevin in paris while i was living in london after college -- i know, tough luck. even two years behind him in school, i very much knew him by reputation. yale, time, journalism at probably like journalism everywhere at the time, was a very clubby affair. even though some of us were already discovering the internet in underground, fluorescently lit computer labs where somehow cigarette smoking was allowed but windows were not, above ground there was only one very well-established news source, withld college daily,
its new tipped rolodex of alumni collections. at the time, this was very much not available to all. rather the presumption was that each yale undergraduate would pay for a subscription for a rolled up piece of paper that would be inserted in your post topics -- po box on campus, not even where you live. even for a resolutely underclass middle graduate like myself, the idea of spending money that i desperately needed for things like pizza and shoes on journalism was laughable. arrived on the campus, the gale daily news was so out of touch with its readership that subscriptions were declining, not to mention exhibiting an institution that was so allied with the traditional way of doing things, rarely took power to task.
in this shadow stepped up the and it cameherald, into its own under his leadership as the most accessible, thoughtful, and muck raking media presence on campus, supported by advertising, accessible to all, and responsive only to its readership. not only that, but unlike rituals of paying one's dues, where you ascended from floor to floor over your years of graduation, kevin created an environment that was truly an alternative culture to that. nonhierarchical, participative, and fun. i remember distinctly one of the first examples i had in my own career of the fact that all of those qualities were not just the opposite of excellence in work, but were, in fact, essential to them. the yalee next year, daily news gave in and started distributing itself for free,
and a broader media ecology began to thrive. as i discussed with kevin, he faced a difficult choice -- dedicate to a rear best dedicated to a career -- dedicated to a career in journalism since high school, every one was telling him to go to the new york daily -- the yale daily news. kevin, as i would like to think about it, maybe did not get what he thought he wanted, but in fact, what we all actually needed. the beginning of a lifetime of optimism and innovation the midst of transformative media landscape. so not only did this all turn out ok for him, i think it very much has a chance of turning out for all of us as a result. to continue to have kevin's patients, thoughtful intelligence, creating supportive communities of
journalists to help support the rest of us the way only journalism can. on behalf of myself and the journalism school, please join me in welcoming kevin j. delaney to berkeley. [applause] mr. delaney: an amazing introduction. when people go back as far as your college newspaper, nicholas did mention that one of our greatest secrets was we covered intramural sports. thank you for coming here tonight. i want to thank nicholas, a dear friend, for bringing me back here to speak tonight. also bringing me back to berkeley, where my family lived very happily for five years. when i think about what interdisciplinary thinking means, i think about nicholas,
and my appreciation of interdisciplinary thinking throws a lot to him. my wife is a social entrepreneur, and nicholas has them how managed to collaborate -- has somehow managed to collaborate with both of us, despite lisa and i being in very separate fields. he is one of the smartest people i know and a real bridge, so thank you for having me here. start by talking to you about two people who in some ways, our heroes of mine in the news industry. the first one is maria rest -- maria ressa. she is the founder of a site called rattler in the philippines, and has written pretty critically about president duterte and his civil rights, human rights abuses there. in return for that, she finds herself now facing five criminal charges for tax evasion that could lead to up to 10
years in jail. when i spoke to her recently, she had to get permission from two separate judges in the philippines to travel outside of the country. maria said she, was optimistic. with a few other journalists, including jamal khashoggi, the washington post writer who, as far as we could tell, was murdered by the saudi government, she was named one of time's people of the year. maria felt her raise profile would help keep her safe. she was speaking with facebook, she was optimistic they had hired mark people and were serious about getting some of the abuses that were taking place on their platform under control, and i said to her, after all of the abuses, after everything, the mobilization of dutere's thugs, the propaganda on facebook, was she sure that she was optimistic about the future? yes, she was.
-- inalso the contact with the founder of .scroll" in india it is based on "the atlantic," and he has fallen afoul of modi's government and people affiliated with him. but he is optimistic as well. as a way of of media layoffs -- we will talk about them -- were announced in the u.s. recently, he texted me and said, all of this investment has helped everyone climb a learning curve. while no individual company has made everything work, the components are clear. what is also clear is that quality is the only defensible editorial strategy. which means many things based on -- context, but original journalism is the key elements -- and this is the surprise positive lesson. sameer believes the media is wringing his hands too much and not seeing the opportunities it has uncovered. thought experiments, he texted.
the buzz feed gets the same money, half a billion dollars, it raised earlier, with all the collective learning until today, they would kick ass. and if anyone is looking for a good way to support civil society in the face of strong ir andeceipt, sam maria, rappler and scroll are great places to put your investment. in 2012 withuartz the backing of david bradley, who owned the atlantic. a small band of us, from the wall street journal, bloomberg, the new york times, assembled to create a new kind of news organization, while building on quality journalism and the global worldview that the places we had come from exhibited in their best moments. the last decade has been tough on important part of the news landscapes, particularly in
local news, with the devastating loss of newsroom jobs and public accountability that those journalists used to bring. but in other areas, it is a remarkable age of journalism. is a remarkable example at hand. several times the size of the economist audience. roughly half of our readers come from outside of the u.s. and includes several million readers a month from india, and at times, over one million readers a month from africa. and those are two places we have targeted. there are 100 full-time journalists on five different comp and is -- continents. we won the business news equivalent of a pulitzer, and apple selected our app is one of the top 10 apps of the year. to az was sold this summer japanese media company at a valuation approaching $100 million. significantly in excess of the
investment required to create it. so the moral of the story, one of the possibilities opened up by the free web, the global distribution available via facebook, and other platforms --t will succeed it, and the of advertisers to back new approaches to media. but before i turned to where i see news of the future, i need to further acknowledged the context of today. if anyone had fantasies that this digital news thing was especially easy or lucrative, they were probably shattered in recent weeks, or they should have been. u.s. news media organizations cut just over 2000 jobs, with buzz feed and huffington post among those firing journalists. guardian, emily bell of columbia university concluded "a digital free market for journalism doesn't work." in the new york times, the same thing with a more tortured metaphor.
"working in digital media is like trying to build a fort out of marshmallows on a foundation made of marble in a country ruled by capricious and tyrannical warring robots." [laughter] so emilyey: acknowledged that the new york times and washington post were succeeding, but argued that few others could replicate their brands or resources. in 1787,fferson wrote were it left to me to decide should we have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, i should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. he wrote that in 1787. for those of us who feel similarly, the current climate for media business can be discouraging. but even before discussing a president who has called the enemy of the people," for discussing concerns that his alkalis might heed that
whistle and do what one does to enemies -- attack them, kill them, hold them captive, and before getting into how trump has not fully acknowledge or condemned the saudi government's role in the killing of jamal khashoggi. as nicolas previewed before, i have known that i wanted to be a journalist since i was a teenager, and this is the newsroom of the yale herald circa 1993. i decided early on i wanted to spend my life contributing to our better understanding of the world and each other. to knowing what is really going on as best we can. to hold the powerful accountable and to help humanity's better instincts. a solution motivated by the pursuit of truth. i worked and lived in three different countries and married a citizen of the fourth. i view journalism as an important public service, one that is vital and worthy, even if there is not a great business model, or political ambiguously
-- politically ambiguous leaders attack it, or tell us not to trust journalism. we can do better to make things trustworthy. i come to the question of the future of news from that perspective. the future of news will likely be hard, but it is not optional. andhe pragmatic optimism mirvery of maria and saim anchors me as we turn from the fog of today and look ahead. we canrters, one thing say with certainty is that the dominance of the primary digital platforms for the distribution of news today, facebook and google, will decrease. part of this is by choice. in its effort to curtailment of elation of its platform by propaganda -- curtail minute elation of its platform by propaganda, facebook has dramatically reduced the amount of news that people see on it. in marchor example --
via facebook came and registered over 14 million page views on quartz. million,ter that was 4 a decline of roughly 70% in our ability to reach readers via facebook. they do reach us in other ways, so thankfully our audience has remained able throughout this period -- remained stable throughout this period. facebook's scandals and shortcomings seem americans start to use it less. americans spend about 70% of their time on facebook, and that is about a fifth less -- 17% of their time on facebook, that is about a fifth less than two years earlier. roger mcamie's new book zucc'd
discusses using antitrust laws to break facebook into pieces. it will probably face the hobbling of its business swagger that microsoft faced 20 years ago. some people now are embarrassed to work there. it will be harder to track and retain talent, and this will create opportunities for new entrants. so we have an opportunity today through our choices to select and shape the news platforms of tomorrow. there is apple news, and aggregation service which already reaches 90 million readers every month. clipboard, quietly chugs along. 145 million readers a month. read it last year had 330 million monthly users -- reddit last year had 300 -- 330 million monthly users, putting it above twitter. better thany may be
ai at finding and curating news. is not perfect. we know with this, but the human hand in curating is an important signal, and points to the power of the importance of humans in creating our information comments. then there is netflix and spotify. it is hard to imagine them not becoming news purveyors of some sort or another as they look to expand. ,potify's acquisition of gimlet a podcast studio, for reportedly over $200 million is an explicit ignore that spotify is moving beyond music and towards news. quartz has launched its own platform for news, and out for ios and android where you can catch up, comment, and share the news. there are different choices on how it is structured. journalists curate the home screen that select the stories you see. comments are moderated and you can only comment once per
article, so you cannot shout another people in the comments in all caps, like some people like to do. good, and is a powerful signal that people want to news, and not just a filter bubble that facebook's algorithms might put them in the middle of. and on top of it, the chances of a foreign government manipulation of our collective when the news is more diverse and structured to avoid manipulation and in cludes human judgment as to what is actually true. i'm guessing this will be a bestseller on telegraph avenue, if it is not already. one enormous area that needs addressing is how all of these platforms share revenue with the creators of news. local news especially has suffered as ad revenue has been siphoned off by the digital platforms. facebook and google have committed to standing together
and spending a total of $600 million in the next three years of supporting journalism. but this is the sort of thatnthro-capitalism hurts us. -- that 603 million. -- 603 -- $603 million of the net income from last year. facebook profits were 22 billion dollars in 2018. alphabet was at $31 million. so the shareholding in silicon valley needs tempering. we need to engage in a serious reset on this front, rather than charity aiming at accusing government and would be critics. facebook says it will not solve the news media's problems, sure, but it's also not chosen to acknowledge its role in structural problems, facing how people get their news and how
professionals are paid to produce it. so we are where we are. theing forward, i produce news in the future will continue to break free from the constraints of newspaper manufacturing from an earlier century, as it has over the last decade. until recently, articles were by default on the range of 700 words long. this is the standard unit of production, part of it is if you are laying out a print newspaper, it's easier to fit 700 word articles together, charts and photos all sat alongside articles in boxes, because the content management systems could not actually process those things as part of the flow of the text. reporters did not write their own headlines, because only the person laying metal type in the manufacturing part of the news process new how many character spaces there were for the headline to fit, as this gentleman is doing.
when i was a reporter we did not write headlines, even though this guy retired decades before. to read anore common article than a series of charts, proto--- photos, or gifs linked by writing. ask io has news that largely bullet point text. quartz hasan amp -- an app where users can chat about the news as you would in text messages. app is an amp that -- an that apple's i was one of the year. these organizations increasingly use the stories format that snapchat has developed. i love a 2000 word feature article, but believe it's positive that news is increasingly being delivered in
andms allowed by technology users are free from the manufacturing process. there are new and more interesting forms of journalism that we have yet to see due to the limitation of previous platforms and there are preconceptions about what news looks like. part of why it's important for digital news organizations to thrive is that they are the places where it's most common to do this reinvention of news and how users experience it. we often tell our team that our biggest advantage and our only advantage against bigger news organizations is that we are not sentimental. but we are not sentimental about the way it has been produced or manufactured. , one of my app favorite example -- examples as a from an article. -- gapbout quartz, earnings.rterly
other places wrote boring articles, a reporter listen to the earnings conference call and wrote a 254 word article with a chart that you see. banana republic made a blazer with armholes for -- too small for an average woman to get into. it told the story of quality control problems singly and efficiently. -- the saintly -- so sing fully -- efficiently. have an article that can go deep on a topic. there is an email that you can get that feels like a webpage, you can watch short videos, take surveys, quizzes, it is the length of a feature article but it's deconstructed and back together for an efficient dispute -- experience on your phone. there's a lot more to do as we
go forward. we have 5g g wireless services launching, this will provide for mobiledth internet connection, so it's not a constraint for sending a video to phones. a phones have been demoed that have folding screens, so you can expand what you are reading. were promised to be something more than just places where you watch television shows , but they have yet to move beyond that and that's another area of promise. and there's voice. news organizations have done some great podcasts with the potential for voice interaction around news and journalism, it goes very far beyond that. that's coming as well. whether there are new or different media brands that succeed, will there be? yes. should there be? yes. but it's hard not to get stuck on the question of what people actually want.
readers, consumers, users, and citizens do not want news, don't trust it or value it, is only so much that journalists can do. alternative facts, truth is not truth, this is the hardest part to get our heads around. humans are biologically wired to like propaganda, just like we like fat and sugar. for our survival, we need to overcome information obesity, and giving people more information, like the calorie count in restaurants in the nutrition labels on foods are one approach. brands used to be the seal of informational health, brands like the new york time where the san francisco chronicle. but the internet undermines that as articles are only seen in facebook format. but that seems to be changing.
there's a start of called news a startupviding -- called news guard, providing nutritional labels for news organizations, which can be a signal into the platforms where this is distributed. dailyriefly listed the mail is unreliable, until recently, which a lot of people harold as a gutsy achievement, though they've backtracked. and there needs to be an active combat against the manipulation of news. for years most of us were too idealistic about the internet, it brought people together. there is an amazing thing called wikipedia, which created this rich knowledge, but we did not acknowledge that hacking and manipulation and disinformation and surveillance that we are biologically wired for, and that internet platforms are steadily enabling and less naive people were pursuing. other platforms need to do everything they can do to
structure themselves so they can avoid the problems and resist easy product designs that manipulate our brains. but this requires active efforts from the people in the industry and those who consume the news. i am happy that the media has been stripped of some of its arrogance. there are structural sexual harassment's and poor treatment of women in television. for example in cbs and fox, and it's symptomatic. the role of the media in perpetuating and exposing the perpetrators of sexual harassment is one of the most vexing and inspiring things about me too. respect and equality are quartznt, 65% of the newsroom is female, and 50% of our readers are female, which is rare for female -- four natural
publications. financial publications. i am not totally surprised by the failure of mike.com, vice, buzz feed, and elsewhere. the hype over the year did not -- the years did not match business realities. like trouble reaching big it'stising, mike bet future on facebook video, well after was clear that was not wise. -- vice iser eyes reorganizing itself as a tv studio, hoping to reach profitability. in ouris profitable fourth year, and we have a business plan to return to profitability. media startups
properly ind individual years, at least. connection to business news, which professionals and investors are willing to pay for and advertisers are willing to pay premiums for. this is an audience whose self-interest is tied to truth, even if it is uncomfortable. and sometimes the hope is placed that write for business readers, some of the best journalism has been business reit -- business journalism. does business journalism have a special role to play in our current media environment and its evolution? i argue that it does, because problems that tackles public prophecy -- policy, accountability, and relevance to us. it's vital that we understand
the future of work, finance, health care, technology, cities, and related topics. for businessls news anchored by advertising ,ould be applied to other areas i don't know the answer but i think that there is some promise. especially if there's a niche market to serve. other nonbusiness examples of news organizations, the the athletic, the skin, daily email newsletter targeting the podcastingn, studio that was just acquired. there are be courts that are valuable models as well. i think the people proclaiming the end of the digital news business have two short short ae count -- too
time frame, it's not easy but the surprise positive lesson is that quality is the only defendable editorial strategy, and original journalism is a key element. courts have an important experience, back in 2012, there was a loss at -- quartz had a loss of readers in 2012. some time to click through to come through to the website. chart,ld see it on the linkedin actually launch something called influencers, they ask people to write on linkedin itself. so from one day to the next they stop sending people to places like us, and sent them to post on linkedin itself. if we had over optimized our content, this would have been
existential. we were young and we just rolled with it. we focused on other places like facebook, having learned an important lesson. the quality of the content, the journalism, the creativity, the ideas were all you could control over the long-term, you had to be pragmatic about the cycles of products and platforms and consumer had a -- habits. i think it's possible to be realistic about things like that but remain engaged and anchored in optimism. , the components of what can work are clear and editorial quality is an anchor. i was not kidding when i said maria and samir could use your support. all of us can play a role in this by purchasing quality journalism, whether it's a newspaper, a subscription, or sending money to someone like maria. i think the news of the future
can get better, but we have to want it to. thank you. [laughter] [applause] >> because i forgot to do so earlier, i will it's plain what will happen now. kevin will join me on stage, some of you have already put questions on index cards, and when you continue to do so we have ushers bringing those up to the front of the house and we will look forward to sharing those conversations with you for the next half hour or so. while we are waiting for our first questions to come up, i thought i would bring our conversation back to the one we year on the 53rd anniversary of the berkeley free speech movement. theonly a week after
hacking of the university and its appearance in the public press to make a global media event out of 14 people assembling for 10 minutes in front of the hall. question of the dynamics of the tension versus content, as we were discussing. we talked about how the media landscape of today fundamentally changes things like speech and free speech. i wanted to get your thoughts on that, and how it affected the business of journalism. >> it's an interesting question and a dynamic, our basic assumptions about free speech are not well equipped to handle. the first amendment was the assumption of protecting speech from government suppression. but as nicholas is saying, what we see is another tactic that is
increasingly common. we see this a lot on facebook, twitter, a lot of these platforms, it's not that you're suppressing the speech, you're just flooding people's attention with other competing things. which may or may not be true, that are in opposition to this. you all know this, it's the misinformation and the propaganda. some people throw up their arms and say i really don't know what to believe. it's very similar to if you unplug the computer, or took with the printing press. the original speech cannot survive in breakthrough on the platforms that are optimized for the spread of this other kind of speech. forink the implications which we should all want to see in the future of journalism and news is that there needs to be humans.
there needs to be human curators who can break through this flood of information. interestingly, it's a direction that facebook actually was going in. they had the trending topics on who,ook, which had humans from the sea of speech, were actually pulling out things they thought were true, interesting, and relevant for the people who came to the home page. , in the face of flooding of disinformation, facebook fired the humans who items.lling the >> this leads to the next question and our first audience question, if you feel question coming over you, raise your hand and if you don't already have an index card we will get you one. if you are holding an index card we will take it.
i willt question, expand, the question asks does tools, or any i -- ai copy tatian automation tasks, or want to? thed you expand on potential of machine intelligence on journalism. bloomberg has ai writing business articles. there are some news organizations that are using ai to basically write articles or using machine learning. they are doing simple things like financial earnings releases, translating charts to articles, some basic sports things, if you read a block score you can translate it to a templated article. there is some of that. we just got a grand, i'm really nai --anwe announced ai studio from the knight
foundation. product -- the goal is to use ai in the pursuit of journalism. it sounds like taking data and having machines write articles that could pass for human written articles. it's actually giving journalists superpowers and their reporting to comb through big data sets and find patterns in the facts they are compiling. the answer to the question is that it's not a capability we have now, but we just hired some journalists and programmers to work on this. ,e think it's super interesting and we should put ai superpowers to work in pursuit of truth. and ie's a question you have often discussed as being relevant here in the bay area. it has to do with global
questions but also with the effect of technology to cause what the questioner calls the almost total collapse of local journalism. adding that my hometown newspaper kept an eye on the politicians in local government and no one is doing that now. >> this is a big issue and i think it's one of the great civic tragedies of our day, what has happened to local news and accountability journalism. this is an area where facebook and google are adding some financial support, but it won't be the answer to what we need. i don't know the answer, i should start by saying that. and i'm not qualified to tell you how local news is going to be saved. but there are some really ineresting examples of ways which people are pursuing this. two endeavors, which
are very exciting to figure this out. we have a vermont nonprofit where a bunch of journalists who were laid off set up a newsroom and found funding through a combination of corporate fonts foundation funding. to do a lot ofle the accountability journalism that was done. we need to figure this out. people need to care and communities. i cannot just expect this to happen without citizens providing support in one way or another. but there are models out there that are showing the way, often with nonprofit foundations supporting to make this work. relates to another
question, as journalism struggles for profitability, how do you feel about billionaires getting into media or news business. atlanticart of the says is this for good, ill, or some combination? at our moment in history, it's hard to say this is a bad thing. billionaires deploying their money to pay for professional journalists. i think there are some other questions you could post about this. what if the billionaires control the news? is that a good? what biases will they bring to coverage over time? whether they are explicit or implicit signals to the people running the organizations that they ultimately employ. i think we have to be honest
about the questions that are involved. i am in general enthusiastic about billionaires deploying to employy journalists, as long as journalists can do real reporting. the atlantic hired a hundred staff over the last of lorene powell. i think that's a good thing. some caveats, and i think over time we need to hold them accountable to good stewardship of these organizations. but in the moment, it's hard to comp about how they are deploying their money. a i would step into make direct connection to the university. the public university, where we are increasingly dependent on philanthropy and donations, which brings with it the need for continued vigilance, and
accountability, that it's not something we could do without. >> journalists are pretty cranky and see-through a lot of things as a group. if you know any journalists you could probably say that. sure that they are not getting cozy treatment from the rank-and-file in the newsroom. here's another question about money, do you worry that the shift to pay walls and subscriptions excludes those who can't afford it and lead the class of people in the dark? >> i do. i think that's a big issue and it's on parallel with local news , if all news of quality requires you to pay for it, than people who cannot pay for it are left out of having access to that. issue. that's a big
in our own approach at quartz, the bulk ofwe have added members something additional, some reports that do deeper dives on businesses and areas of disruption in the economy. includeortant for us to places like india, and africa, where we have a mission to serve readers, so that they are able to access courts -- quartz without paying for it. >> here's a tough follow-up question. local media across the united states is suffering and that's well-documented, but with millions of african readers of quartz, what you think of the balance of power of digital media as it crosses canrnational borders, how journalism from africa compete with topic? >> that's a good question.
important to have journalists who come from a place covering the place. our model is not people from delhi.put into this is not exactly the question, but i think in terms of the neocolonial intrusion of a larger global media power on , i think ouron ecosystem o approach is coherent with andgnize talent values of the place. i think our audiences are not the same. our audience for content in africa and india mixes in with the global content. one interesting thing we analyzed a few years ago, we
were wondering what readers of quartz in africa were reading? they were reading african coverage, u.s. coverage, a lot of it was tech coverage, and a lot of coverage about india. that was not something i expected to see. our readers of -- in africa were among the most voracious consumers of the news we were producing in india. if there's a logic, some similar ,conomic development phases there is an indian diaspora in africa. i don't think we are competing directly with the local news organizations in africa, necessarily. but i think it's a good question. >> one last thing. we've tried to bring the tools of quartz to local newsrooms in
africa. we had an initiative two years ago, which we called atlas for africa, it's a charting platform called atlas, journalists can use it to make charts for free. we got a grant, and we went into a net -- to a number of newsrooms across southern africa and shared the tool with the newsrooms, and talk to them about how they could use it in their work. >> it's a good segue to our next question, which is about new tools and journalism, or new media phenomenon that is shaping how we consume information. there are two separate questions but i will put them together. one is the prominence of self-publishing aggregate news, represented by medium. the question is, they seem to be
trying to do a rollup of longform terminal is him as a place for that kind of -- journalism as a place for extended content. the second question is for your thoughts on user comments on articles, in terms of the daily discourse. you've talked about how you've iied to get them to improve, would be interested in seeing about those together, related to one of the most interesting parts of your talk, the ability of digital platforms to give us fundamentally new containers for information. one of the things that we said in that initial letter, when we launched quartz for our readers is that we believe that collectively our readers knew much more than we ever would. as a journalist and a news organization that has to be the starting point. you don't own the truth, there
are people outside. we've tried to find ways to actually bring our readers into the content. at one point we had allowed people to annotate quartz's articles. of thea was that you section article and it would say that here's a link to an amazing data source on this point or you guys got this wrong, here's how you could fix it. it turns out that like there are not a lot of people who want to spend their days annotating quartz articles, we discovered, for good and bad. but it's a premise that we remain pretty committed to. p that hasorm is an apt been constructive. there have been a few key
structural reasons for it to work. the first thing we have done is recruited a bunch of people to comment regularly. this is people like roger mcnamee, who has a new book about facebook, and desmond helmand, along with a chinese ai expert and investor. so, they are commenting in a really interesting way and kind of signaling the type of specific conversation we are looking for. anyone can comment, but it felt important to have some people who could model the types of conversations. the second thing, as i mentioned, was a structure so that you could only comment once . you can't shout back and forth that other people. it turns out that that actually makes a huge difference. if you can't go back and forth with someone about whether -- about trump, obama, or whoever you want to sort of shout about,
it leads to a more conversation. lastly we have journalists moderating the conversations, so when people aren't behaving civilly, we can push their comments down so that people don't see them. it's this great thing called shadow banning. meaning that the person who left the profane or angry comment still sees the comment themselves, but no one else sees it. don't actually get mad at us because they don't realize that we have taken it down. there are lots of techniques. we are going to layer this here, try to bring this back to the articles and see if we can't like get commenting right for once. the first part of the question? >> i was trying maybe to eagerly to synthesize questions, but the relationship between platforms
like medium and the intrusion on the regular news business or addition to it. to havenk it's better more platforms with earnest people creating things where people go to read longform journalism. i think it's a really good thing. the truth is, if you saw the itdership from facebook, went like this or like this. individual platforms can greatly affect whether their users find publication content on that. despite all of these things happening we have tens of .illions of readers every month
i think a medium as another place that allows people to find .tuff they are hungry for it's a good thing. >> what about someone like a jeff bezos having to collaborate , is thaturnalist making the world a better place or is it just the nature of in ourews -- of news time? >> it would have been a complicated assignment to get that call from jeff bezos and transform that into a friendly -- family-friendly article. so, i think it is a fact. and it's fine.
he wrote a really kind of bold and funny post on medium. and if there is no journalist as an intermediary, he could have in earlier ages written it as a press release and put it out on the press wire. it seems like that doesn't bother me. >> this is a berkeley question, but i think it is also at the heart of a lot of our -- at the intersection of hopes and fears about news, which is a what if, or do you think there is a chance that business news for financial elite is the only business of news that survives. is that the prospect we face? i don't think so. and i think it is because there are other examples of categories of people. you may not find this anymore reassuring, but journalism for sports enthusiasts apparently
has a bright future. journalism for millennia women apparently has a bright future. and you can go kind of down the categories. you know, podcasting, actually, we just had so many examples with anchor and gimlet being acquired by spotify, a platform with a bright future as far as i can tell. i don't know that the categories of journalism that are financially viable, independent ,f support from members philanthropists, foundations, good souls, i don't know how infinite that category of journalism is. it's definitely bigger than just business journalism.
mayor buttigieg: -- >> how has quartz managed to avoid the curse of the pivot to video and where do moving images and other forms of interactive media factor into your long or medium game? >> we have some great journalists working on video. we have a show that happens to have been distributed on facebook where we weakly do field reporting. we have done a bunch in china and africa and the latest one , talking to people about the rise of airbnb and people wanting to act like locals when they are tourists having destroyed lisbon for a lot of the people who live there. we have some great original journalism going on there. we didn't give it to video and stake our entire future on it. we see it as one of more -- one
of the ways we are journalists and one of the forms that our journalism takes. i wish that video was a lot easier. it's pretty expensive from a business standpoint. this idea that there is this kind of magical model for how clearlynce it is like not true. havech of other places painfully demonstrated that. business models around distribution. television channels, netflix, hulu, amazon are paying for video content. and that is among the things we think about. >> we believe this event with a reminder that you can find it online at c-span.org under digital journalism. we take you now to des moines, where pete buttigieg