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tv   Quartz Editor Kevin Delaney at UC Berkeley  CSPAN  April 28, 2019 3:47am-4:59am EDT

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life is hard for them. they take on heavy burdens. but they lead very inspiring lots. >> david brooks, tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. wednesday at 10:00 a.m. eastern, attorney general rooney bar -- william barr will testify on the mueller report. on thursday at 9:00 a.m. eastern, he'll testify before the house judiciary committee live on c-span3,, and listen on the free c-span radio app. now, the founding editor of courts, kevin delaney, discusses the future of digital journalism, including the decline of facebook and google's dominance. with students of the university of california in berkeley. this is just over an hour.
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dir. de monchaux: good evening, everyone. my name is nicholas de monchaux. 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's my great pleasure to welcome kevin delaney to the art and culture technology lecture 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. since 2016, we have also been proud to participate in this evening's framing and organizing series, the arts and design monday's series organized by the associate vice chancellor on campus, shannon jackson, and her office.
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we are particularly grateful to shannon and her office for covering the rent here at the berkeley art museum and the pacific film archive, which helps us all speak to you in such a wonderful venue. [applause] dir. de monchaux: thumbs up. the lecture tonight, it's the second in an annual series inaugurated with last year's conversation with frank thor and nick thompson, examining the future of the news media and its role in shaping the future. i think it's particularly appropriate, then, that we also share tonight's conversation with the cameras of c-span, itself an important instrument of technology and media in the public service, which is very much in line with the larger mission of this great public university. i can think of few people more qualified to speak with us about these questions than "quartz's"
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founding editor, kevin delaney. kevin cofounded the website in 2012. and in a time when the news media has been compromised by socially driven information economies, "quartz" has thrived. kevin's grounding for the remarkable success of "quartz" 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 journal's online readership with award-winning, dedicated digital features, but also in his previous experience covering technology as a correspondent for "the journal" in the bay area and europe. "quartz's" international strategy, including a remarkable focus on india and africa, two undercovered regions of the globe with thriving and gracious audiences is part of its many remarkable strengths and is reflected in kevin's current membership of the council on
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foreign relations. but if we were 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 for my first two years and his last. thankfully, we rectified 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. but even while two years behind him in school, i did very much know him by reputation. at the time, journalism at yale, probably a bit 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, the oldest college daily, with its clubhouse like wood panel
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and blue-chipped 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 po box on campus, not even where you lived. for even a resolutely middle-class undergraduate like myself, the idea of spending money that i desperately needed for things like pizza and shoes on journalism was laughable. by the time i arrived on the the "yale daily news" was so out of touch with its readership that subscriptions were declining, not to mention exhibiting an institution that was so unlined -- aligned with the traditional way of doing things, that it rarely took power to task.
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in this shadow stepped up "the weekly yale herald," enabled by microsoft desktop publishing, and it came 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 responsible only to its readership. not only that, but unlike the hierarchal rituals of paying one's dues as the "daily news," where you literally ascended from floor to floor over your years of graduation, kevin created, manifestly, and environment -- an environment that was truly an alternative culture to that. approachable, nonhierarchical, participative, and fun. i remember it very distinctly as one of the first examples i had in my own career of the fact that all those qualities were not just the opposite of excellence in work, but were, in fact, essential to them. almost the next year, "the yale daily news" gave in and started distributing itself for free, and a broader media ecology began to thrive. as i discussed it since with kevin, he actually faced what
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seemed a very difficult choice as an undergraduate. dedicated to a career in journalism since high school, everyone was telling him to go to the juggernaut of media authority. instead, he decided to go to the -- to focus on readers and the news itself. the culturally diverse population. and 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 amidst a transforming media landscape. so, not only did it all turn out ok for him, i think it very much has a chance of turning out ok for all of us as a result. to continue to have kevin's patient, thoughtful intelligence, creating supportive communities of journalists to help support the rest of us the way only journalism can.
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on behalf of myself and the journalism school, please join me in welcoming kevin j. delaney to berkeley. [applause] mr. delaney: an amazing introduction. very few people go as far back as your college newspaper. nicholas didn't mention that one of our greatest secrets was we covered intramural sports. "the yale daily news" could not be bothered to cover intramural sports. that was the secret of 1993. thank you for coming here tonight. i want to start by thanking nicholas, who is a dear friend, for bringing me back here to speak tonight. and also for 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 i think my appreciation of interdisciplinary thinking owes
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a lot to him. nicholas, my wife said, is a social entrepreneur, and nicholas has somehow managed to collaborate with both of us, despite lisa and i being in very separate fields. so, he's one of the smartest people i know and a real bridge, so thank you, and thank you for having me here. so, i want to start by talking -- telling you about two people who, in some ways, are heroes of mine in the news industry. the first one is maria ressa. she's the founder of a site called rappler. it's 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 actually travel
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outside of the country. but for all of that, maria said that she was optimistic. with a few other journalists, including jamal khashoggi, the "washington post" writer who, as best we could tell, was murdered by the saudi government, she was named one of "time's" people of the year. you can see the cover here. and maria felt her raised profile would help keep her safe. she was speaking with facebook. she was optimistic they had hired more 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 that, after all the abuses, after everything, the mobilization of dutere's thugs, the propaganda on facebook, was she really sure that she was optimistic about the future? yes, she said she was. around the same time, i was in touch with samir patil, the founder of "scroll" in india. it's a five-year-old publication
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that's mold on "the atlantic," and he has fallen afoul of modi's government and people who are affiliated with him. but samir is optimistic, too. as a wave of media layoffs -- we will talk about them -- were announced in the u.s. recently, samir texted me and said, all of this investment has helped everyone climb a learning curve. so 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 certainly a key element -- and this is a surprise positive lesson. samir believes the media is wringing its hands too much and not seeing the opportunities it has uncovered. thought experiments, he texted, "if buzzfeed gets the same money, half a billion dollars, it raised earlier, with all the collective learning until today,
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they would kick ass." as an aside, if anyone is looking for a good way to support civil society in the face of strongman autocracy, samir and maria, rappler, and scroll are great places to channel your investment. i'm naturally focused on that, too. as nicholas said, i cofounded "quartz" in 2012 with the backing of david bradley, who owned "the atlantic." a small band of us, from places such as the economist, 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'd come from exhibited in their best moments. the last decade has been tough on important part of the news landscapes, particularly in accountability that those journalists used to bring.
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but in other areas, it is a remarkable age of journalism. "quartz" is one example at hand. our website at one point had reached close to 25 million readers a month, almost as much as the "washington post," and several times the size of "the economist's" 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 as nicholas noted, those are two places we have targeted. there are 100 full-time journalists on five different 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. "quartz" was sold this summer to a japanese media company at a valuation approaching $100 million, significantly in excess of the investment required to create it.
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so "quartz" is one of the opportunities opened up by the free web, the global distribution available via facebook, and other platforms that will succeed it, and of advertisers to back new approaches to media. but before i turn 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 since the beginning of the year, with vice, buzzfeed, and huffington post among those firing journalists. writing in "the guardian," emily bell of columbia university concluded "a digital free market for journalism doesn't work." in the "new york times,"
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wrote 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] mr. delaney: so emily acknowledged that the "new york times" and "washington post" were succeeding, thanks to their subscription models, but argued that few others could replicate their brands or resources. thomas jefferson wrote in 1787, "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 press "the enemy of the people," for discussing concerns that his
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acolytes 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 acknowledged 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 in fact the newsroom of "the yale herald" circa 1993. i decided very 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 . to help count on humanity's better instincts. solutions motivated by the pursuit of truth. i worked and lived in three different countries and married a citizen of a fourth. so i am highly biased toward the free exchange of ideas and services. i view journalism as an important public service, one that is vital and worthy, even if there is not a great business model, or politically ambiguous and business leaders attack it,
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or even if the public professes not to trust journalists, which is the truth. we can do better to make things better and be 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. so the pragmatic optimism and bravery of maria and samir anchors me as we turn from the fog of today and actually look ahead. for starters, one thing i think we can 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 curtail manipulation of its platform by propaganda and disinformation, facebook has also dramatically reduced the amount of news that people see on it. take "quartz," for example. in march 2017, viewers came via facebook and registered over 13 million page views on "quartz."
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a year later that was 4 million, a decline of roughly 70% in our ability to reach readers via facebook. i should note that readers reach us other ways, and so thankfully 's" audience has remained stable throughout this period. part of this is also that facebook's various scandals and shortcomings seem americans start to use it less. adults in america spend about 17% of their online time on facebook. that is about one-fifth less than two years earlier, according to pivotal research. it is a certainty that facebook and google will be regulated by governments in europe and likely here as well. roger mcnamee in his new book "zucked," which just came out, discusses using antitrust laws
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to actually break facebook into pieces. facebook will probably experience the hobbling of its business swagger that microsoft experienced 20 years ago. i understand people now, some people 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, an aggregation service which already reaches 90 million readers every month. flipboard quietly chugs along. it has 145 million readers a month. reddit last year had 330 million monthly users, putting it at or above the level of twitter. interestingly, in the case of reddit, it is human moderation rather than algorithms that drives the usage. each subreddit is monitored by
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users, and moderators actually may be better than ai at finding and curating news. reddit is not perfect. we know with this, but the human hand in curating is an important signal, and it 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 other as they look to expand. spotify's acquisition of gimlet, a podcast studio, for reportedly for over $200 million is an explicit signal that spotify is moving beyond music and towards news. "quartz" has launched its own platform for news, an app for ios and android, where you can catch up on, comment, and share the news. there are very deliberate 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 at
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other people in the comments in all caps, like some people like to do. all of this is 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's manipulation of our collective psyche to sway an election decrease when the news is more diverse and structured to avoid manipulation and includes human judgment as to what is actually true. i am guessing that this will be a bestseller on telegraph avenue, if it is not already. this t-shirt. one enormous area that needs addressing is how all of these platforms, facebook and google included, 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 philanthro-capitalism that
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others have criticized more broadly. facebook and google have used surveillance capitalism to nab all the advertising dollars, and that $600 million represents the smallest fraction of their spoils. just 1% of their net income last year. facebook profits were $22 billion in 2018. google parent alphabet's worth $31 billion. so the shareholding in silicon valley needs tempering. one question is whether any of the news platforms would engage in a serious reset on this front, rather than charity aiming at appeasing government and would-be critics in the media. at sign it won't solve the news media's problems, sure, but it has chosen not to fully 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. ok. looking forward, i predict that
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the 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 shockingly recently, articles were by default on the range of 700 words long. this was the standard unit of production of news organizations, and part of it is if you are laying out a print newspaper, it is much easier to fit 700-word articles together. charts and photos all sat alongside articles in boxes, because the content management systems and layout 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 knew how many character spaces there were for the headline to fit, as this gentleman is doing right here. when i was a reporter, we still did not write headlines, even though this guy had retired years or decades before.
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so we have broken free of that. today, it is much more common to read an article than a series of charts, photos, or gifs linked by writing. axios has news that largely bullet point text. "quartz has an app where users can chat about the news as you would in text messages. an app that apple said was one of the 10 best of the year. these organizations increasingly use the stories format that snapchat has developed. text and graphics. i love a 2000-word feature article, but believe it's positive that news is increasingly being delivered in idioms allowed by technology and
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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 our preconceptions about what news actually 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. i often tell our team at "quartz " that our biggest advantage and our only advantage against bigger news organizations is that we are not sentimental about the way it has been produced or manufactured. apart from our app, one of my favorite examples as a from an article.
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it was about gap inc.'s quarterly earnings, one of the most boring things that you could write about. other places wrote boring articles, a reporter listened to the earnings conference call and wrote a 254-word article with a chart that you see. banana republic made a blazer with armholes too small for an average woman to get into. it told the story of quality control problems singly and succinctly and efficiently. we also 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, you can take quizzes. it is the length of a feature article, but it's deconstructed and back together for an efficient experience on your phone. there's a lot more to do as we
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go forward. we have 5g wireless services launching. this will provide high bandwidth for mobile internet connection, so it's not a constraint for sending a video to users' phones. new phones have been demoed that have folding screens, so you can expand what you are reading. tv sets 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, but the potential for voice interaction around news and journalism, it actually goes very far beyond that. that's coming as well. will there be new or different media brands that succeed? yes. should there be? yes. but it's hard not to get stuck on the question of what people actually want. if the readers, consumers, users, and citizens do not want
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news, don't trust it, or value it, then there is only so much that journalists can do. there has been a clouding of truth, alternative facts, truth is not truth, this is the hardest part to get our heads around. humans are biologically wired to like propaganda and filtered bublebles. it is just like we like fat and sugar. for our survival, we need to overcome information obesity, and giving people more information, like the calorie counts in restaurants and the nutrition labels on foods are one approach. brands used to be that seal of informational health, brands like news organizations like the "sanyork times" or the francisco chronicle." but the internet undermines that as articles are only seen in facebook format. but that seems to be changing.
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"the new york times" has a start up called news guard, providing nutritional labels for news organizations, which can be a signal into the platforms where this is distributed. listed therecently "daily mail" as unreliable, until recently, which a lot of people hav heralded as a gutsy achievement, though they have 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 naïve people were pursuing. other platforms need to do everything they can do to structure themselves so they can avoid the problems and resist
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the easy product designs that manipulates our brains. but this requires active efforts the people in the industry and by 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 is structural sexual harassment and poor treatment of women in television. for example in cbs and fox news, 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 important, 65% of the quartz "quartz" newsroom is female, and 50% of our readers are female, which is rare for financial
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publications. i am not totally surprised by the failure of, vice, buzzfeed, and elsewhere. , huffington post. the hype over the the years did not match business realities. mic had trouble reaching big advertising. mic bet its future on facebook video, well after was clear that was not wise. vice is reorganizing itself as a tv studio, hoping to reach profitability. "quartz" is profitable in our fourth year, and we have a business plan to return to profitability. other digital media startups have operated properly in individual years, at least.
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it is probably not coincidental that all of these i just mentioned have some connection to business news, which professionals and investors are willing to pay for and advertisers are willing to pay premiums to appear next to. business is an audience whose self-interest is tied to truth, even if it is uncomfortable. and sometimes the hope is placed wall streetes like " journal," bloomberg, and others, that write for business readers, some of the best journalism has been business journalism. so does business journalism have a special role to play in our current media environment and its evolution? i argue that it does, because the problems that it tackles are ones of public policy, accountability, and relevance to us. it is vital that we understand the future of work, finance, health care, technology, cities,
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taxation, and related topics that business news organizations are covering. business models for business news anchored by advertising subscription and liquid advertising could be applied to other areas, like political news, i don't know the answer, but i think that there is some promise. especially if there's a niche market to serve, and people are willing to pay. there are other nonbusiness examples of news organizations, such as the athletic, the sports journalism email, the skin, the daily email newsletter targeting millennial women, the podcasting studio that was just acquired. there would be "quartz," vpside, and digger that are valuable models as well.
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i think the people proclaiming the end of the digital news business have too short a time frame. it is not easy but the surprise positive lesson is that quality is the only defendable editorial strategy, and original journalism is a key element. "quartz" have an important experience, back in 2012, there was a loss of readers in 2012. it took some time to click through to come through to the website. then it dropped to zero. you could see it on the chart, linkedin actually launch something called influencers, they asked people like richard branson to write on linkedin itself. so from one day to the next, they stopped sending people to places like us, and sent them to posts on linkedin itself.
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if we had over optimized our content through places like linkedin 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, and you had to be pragmatic about the cycles of products and platforms and consumer habits. i think it's possible to be realistic about things like that but also remain engaged and anchored in some optimism. as samir said, 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. in fact, all of us can play a role in this by buying 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. [applause]
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dir. de monchaux: because i forgot to do so earlier, i will explain 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 had last year on the 53rd anniversary of the berkeley free speech movement. and only a week after the hacking of the university and
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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. this is the question of the dynamics of the tension versus content, as we were discussing. had 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 as well. mr. delaney: it is 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. basically,. but as nicholas is saying, what
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we see is another tactic that is increasingly common. we see this a lot on facebook, twitter, and a lot of these platforms, it's not that you're suppressing free speech, you're actually 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. the effect is very similar to if you unplug the computer, or took away the printing press. the original speech actually just can't survive, can't breakthrough on the platforms that are optimized for the spread of this other kind of speech. i think the implications for 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
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flood of information, in some cases. interestingly, it's a direction that facebook actually was going in. they had the trending topics on facebook, which had humans who, from the sea of speech, were actually pulling out things they that they thought were true, interesting, and relevant for the people who came to the home facebook's home page. and crazily, in the face of flooding of disinformation comments, facebook fired the humans who were pulling the items that were proven worthy of our attention. dir. de monchaux: this leads to the next question and our first audience question of your i will also say, 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. the next question, i will
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expand, the question asks does any ai tools or computation automation tasks, or want to? could you expand on the potential of machine intelligence on journalism? i know bloomberg already has ai writing business articles. mr. delaney: there are some news organizations that are using ai to basically write articles or using machine learning. they are doing very 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 going on. we just got a grant, i'm really excited, we just announced an ai studio based on a grant from the
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knight foundation. the product -- the goal is to use ai in the pursuit of journalism. it is not like taking data and having machines write articles that could pass for human-written articles. it is actually giving journalists superpowers and in their reporting to comb through big data sets and find patterns in the facts they are compiling and so forth. the answer to the question is that it's not a capability we have now, but we have literally just hired some journalists and programmers to start working on this. we think it's super interesting, and we should put ai superpowers to work in the pursuit of truth. is ade monchaux: here question you and i have often discussed as being relevant here in the bay area. it has to do with global those global questions but also with the effect of technology to
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cause what the questioner calls the almost total collapse of local journalism. adding that "my hometown newspaper kept an eye on the politicians who ran local government, and no one is doing that now." mr. delaney: this is a big issue , and i think it is 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 is not going to be the answer to what we need. i don't know the answer, i should start by saying that. and i'm not super qualified to tell you how local news is going to be saved. but there are some really interesting examples of ways in which people are pursuing this. i mentioned berkeley side and digger, which are very
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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 funding, membership and they are able to do a lot of , the accountability journalism that was done. so we're still trying to figure this out. out. people need to care in communities. they cannot just expect this to happen without citizens providing support in one way or another. but there are models out there that i think are showing the way, often with nonprofit foundations supporting to make this work.
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dir. de monchaux: this relates to another question, as journalism struggles for profitability, how do you feel about billionaires getting into media or news business? another part of the atlantic says is this for good, ill, or some combination? mr. delaney: at our moment in history, it is 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 thing? 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.
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i am in general enthusiastic about billionaires deploying their money to employ journalists, as long as journalists can do real reporting. the atlantic hired a hundred staff over the last year, thanks to the new ownership of lorene powell. i think that's a good thing. there are some caveats, and i
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think over time we need to hold them accountable to good stewardship of these organizations. but in the moment, it's hard to complain about how they are deploying their money. dir. de monchaux: i would step into make a 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. mr. delaney: journalists are pretty cranky and see-through a lot of things as a group. if you know any journalists, you could probably say that. i sure that they are not getting am cozy treatment from the rank-and-file in the newsroom. dir. de monchaux: here is 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? mr. delaney: i do. i think that is a big issue and it's on parallel with local news, if all news of quality requires you to pay for it, than en people who cannot pay for it
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are left out of having access to that. i think that's a big issue. in our own approach at "quartz," the bulk of the content is free. we have added memberships as something additional, some reports that do deeper dives on businesses and areas of disruption in the economy. but it is important for us to include places like india, and a and africa, where we have a mission to serve readers, so that they are able to access "quartz" without paying for it. dir. de monchaux: here is 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 international borders? how can journalism from africa compete with quartz covering the same topic? mr. delaney: hmm.
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that's a good question. it is really important to have journalists who come from a place covering the place. our model is not people from brooklyn being put into delhi. em in lagos. this is not exactly the question, but i think in terms of the neocolonial intrusion of a larger global media power on the information ecosystem of a country like malawi, i think our approach is coherent with recognizing the talent and values of the place. i think our audiences are not the same. interestingly audience for , content in africa and india sort of mixes in with the global content.
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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 in africa were among the most voracious consumers of the news we were producing in india. if there's a logic, some similar economic development phases, there is an indian diaspora in africa. i do not think we are competing directly with the local news organizations in africa, necessarily. but i also respect -- i think it is a good question. actually one last thing. ,one thing we have tried to do is 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
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called atlas, journalists can use it to make charts for free. we got a grant, and we went into -- "quartz" staff went into a bunch of newsrooms across sub-saharan africa and shared the tool with the newsrooms, and talked to them about how they could use it in their work. dir. de monchaux: it is a good segue to our next question, which is about new tools in 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 journalism as a place
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for that extended content. and then the second question is for your thoughts on user comments themselves on articles, in terms of the daily discourse. you talk a little bit about how you have tried to get them to improve, i would be interested in seeing about those together, related to one of the most interesting parts of your talk, which is the ability of digital platforms to give us fundamentally new containers for information. mr. delaney: i think, like, i mean, 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 or as a news organization, that has to be the starting point. you don't own the truth, there are people outside. we have tried to find ways to
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actually bring our readers into the content. at one point, we had allowed people to annotate "quartz's" articles. the idea was that you could respond to a different segment of the article, and ideally you would say "and here's a link to this amazing data source." or "you guys got this wrong, here is how you can fix it." it turns out that there's not a lot of people that want to spend their days annotating articles. but it's a premise that we remain committed to. as i mentioned, we launched this platform, which is an app that actually does have commenting on the news, and it is pretty constructive. we have done a huge thing that
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are key structural reasons for it to work. so the first thing we've done is we have recruited a bunch of people to comment regularly. and so this is people like roger mcnamee, who has a new book about facebook, and sue desmond hellman, who is a head of the gates foundation. and so they are commenting data in a really interesting way and kind of signaling the type of civic conversation that we are looking for. anybody can comment, but it felt important to have some people who could model the sort of conversation. the second thing i mention is it is structured so you can only comment once. so you cannot shout back and forth at other people. and it turns out that that actually makes a huge difference. if you cannot go back and forth with someone about whether -- about trump or obama or whoever
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you want to sort of shout about, it leads to more civil conversation. the last thing we have our journalists who are moderating. so when people aren't behaving civilly, we can push the ir comments down, so people don't see them. there is a great thing called shadow banning, which means the that the person who left the profane or angry comment still sees the comment themselves, but no one else sees it. [laughter] mr. delaney: that means they don't realize that we've taken it out. so they don't get mad at us. so there are lots of techniques. we are going to try to bring this back to the article on and see if we can't get commenting right for once. dir. de monchaux: i was trying to synthesize between two questions, that the relationship between platforms like medium and their intrusion on the
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regular news business or the relationship to it. mr. delaney: i think, as you can tell from my remarks earlier, i think it's better to have more platforms with earnest people trying to create places where people go and read longform journalism. i think that is a really good thing. the truth, if you saw the readership from facebook, the readership from linkedin went like this, and you can see individual platforms can greatly affect whether the users actually find a publication's content on that platform. but the truth is that people want to read stuff. and so despite all of these things happening, we still have tens of millions of readers every month who come to quartz " despite all the scary
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charts that i showed you. so i think another medium is a place that allows people to find stuff that they are hungry for, and i think that's a good thing. what do youhaux: think of the question referred or the implication that in a previous age, someone like jeff bezos would have had to collaborate with a journalist for his "dear mr. pecker" letter but instead was able to put it out there as himself. do you think that makes the world a better place or just the nature of news in our time? mr. delaney: that would have been a really complicated assignment. [laughter] mr. delaney: to get the call from jeff bezos to transfer that into a really family-friendly article. so i think it is a fact.
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and 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 written it as a press release and put it on the the press wire. i don't know, it seems like -- that does not bother me. dir. de monchaux: this is a berkeley question, but also it is a question at the heart of a lot of our -- at the intersection of hopes and fears about news. which is, what if -- or do you think there is a chance that business news for at least a financial elite is the only business of news that survives, do you think that is the prospect that we face? mr. delaney: i do not think so. and i think it is because there are other examples of categories of people. you may not find this anymore reassuring, but paid -- or journalism for sports enthusiasm apparently has a
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bright future. journalism for millennial women apparently has a bright future. and you can go down the categories. you know, podcasting actually, you know, we had a some examples with anchor and gimlet being acquired by spotify. a really powerful platform there. it has a pretty bright future as , as far as i can tell. and so i don't know that the categories of journalism that are financially viable, independent of support from members, philanthropists, foundations, good souls, i don't know how infinite that category of journalism is, but it is definitely bigger than just business journalism. dir. de monchaux: we will finish with our last two questions, more inside the business of journalism.
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one is, which i am interested in the question as well, how has "quartz" managed to minimize the curse of the visit to video and , and where did the other forms of media factor into your long game or medium game? mr. delaney: "quartz" has some great journalists who are working on a video. we are working on a show, which happens to be distributed on facebook, where we weekly do field reporting, and we have done a bunch in china, africa , and the latest one was in lisbon, and talking to people of the rise of airbnb and people want to act like locals when they are tourists, and it has been harmful to a lot of the people who live there.
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we assume great original journalism going on there. we did not pivot the video and stake our entire future on it. we see it in a way in which we are journalists in which the form our journalist takes. i wish the video was a lot easier. it is pretty extensive from a business standpoint, and this idea that there is a magical model for how you finance it is -- has clearly not been true. and mic and a lot of other places have painfully demonstrated that. our business follows run distribution. television channels, netflix, hulu, amazon are paying for video content. and that is among the things we think about. we have had one of our stories as being auctioned for a tv series, and another one being shopped as a documentary for someplace. those are ways in which you can creatively finance further investment in journalism. dir. de monchaux: and the last
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question i think is a wonderful one to end on and a very sincere question from our most cherished community of berkeley , which is our students. what can a student or student of journalism be prepared of the future of news to bring? how can we both leaders and co-conspirators in our mission? mr. delaney: that is a great question. i think the thing that basically -- at "quartz," we are looking for a journalist, which may be one way to answer. we look at our journalists, do they have relevant experience about what we'd be looking to do. and the fundamental thing for me, when i'm interviewing journalists who are coming to
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work at "quartz," the fundamental thing i look for is, is this a curious person? because more than training in a specific video technique or cms or whatever the specific tactic you can learn, if you are not a fundamentally curious person, you are going to really struggle to excel in this profession. and so when i talk to journalists in this context, i will say, like, i will try to get them talking about stories and see, is this person curious about things? and one of the most memorable times was speaking with anne quito, who is a "quartz" design she came in and she is telling me about a trip where she had gone to manila and
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, and she said, yeah i went there, it's in the philippines, to report on -- she said, i actually when i was there i went to a neighborhood in manila where there are forgers, you can hire forgers to forge a passport or driver's license. anne associate got a pulitzer prize certificate forged with her name. [laughter] mr. delaney: she said, actually there are these really archaic forms of calligraphy that are practiced and preserved in this neighborhood in the philippines , because they are used on diplomas, so this calligraphy is used on these -- so here are these philippine forgery artists who are preserving these agent forms of calligraphy, and i thought, wow, this is really super interesting. we are going to hire you, and you are going to write both of these stories. and she said i was there in a typhoon, and it was interesting
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because i was taking a car to the airport, and all of the roads to the airport is lined with billboards, kind of just these standard billboards and themselves, the billboards, they had been removed, because they were afraid they would take flight and in danger people in the typhoon. she said it was super fascinating visually, because there are these kind of exoskeletons of the billboards that are still there, the resting skeletons, and it as if the scope of our society is laid bare, and she took these photos on instagram, and i was like, you have to write that story after we hire you. [laughter] mr. delaney: so the question --
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the answer is you have to be a good writer and reading is, i think for any young person, especially journalists, that is the number one thing you can do for self-improvement. reading books, reading longform journalism, but beyond that, sort of gaining any experiences you can and actually testing yourself on just how curious you are is another key thing to do if you aspire to be a successful journalist. dir. de monchaux: that is a great note to end on. i would like to ask you all to join me in thanking kevin delaney very much for joining us. thank you for coming. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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[inaudible conversations]
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>> c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, the young turks host and founder cenk uygur, and black guns matter's maj toure discusses firearms rights and gun violence prevention in the african-american community. journal" liveton at 7:00 a.m. this morning. join the discussion. >> former house speaker john boehner of ohio and former senate majority leader harry reid of nevada discuss a range of issues, including education, the future of war, and how congress should proceed in the wake of the mueller report. comments came during a
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symposium sponsored by the university of nevada, las vegas policies to. here is a conversation where the two leaders discussed the fate of education. we were not starting as early enough with kids. was not as early as it needed to be, and it still is not then we realized our elementary schools were not really getting the job done, and in itsind of got stopped tracks, because we were not ready for injured what is one of the biggest costs at unlv and other universities? remedial education for incoming students. it drives up the cost of education, and frankly, it should not be necessary. i think what has happened over the last 15, 20 years is another -- how do we make sure that
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every child has a chance at a decent education? i do not know that we have the answer to that yet, because the schools are in control, but home is a component, and the community is that the kids grow up in are components. oh we, as a society, i think every kid a chance at a decent education, but it is going to take all three of those components to make it up. if you are poor, you live in a rotten neighborhood, there probably are not books at home, not educational opportunities at home, and in many cases among opportunities in the community. clubs, boysirls clubs, ymca, those things are absolutely essential if we are going to do a better job of educating the next generation. chuck, one of the
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things that i think we shall realize is we have all of these improvings for education, but one of the things we do not talk about often are teachers. what have we seen going on in america today? we have seen in virginia, kentucky, and a number of other states where the teachers have , andwe have had enough we're going to change it, and we have done it by bringing the education system to the legislators, and i think we need to involve teachers more, if we have not gotten the message about what has happened around the country with teachers, i think we should understand what we need to do to improve education. johnrmer house speaker boehner of ohio and former senate majority leader harry reid of nevada discuss a range of issues, including education and the future of work.
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you can see the entire discussion today at 6:35 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at, or listen on the free c-span radio app. now, president trump's speech at a 2020 campaign rally in green bay, wisconsin. the president scheduled this rally on the say not the annual white house correspondent' association dinner, which he has chosen not to attend. ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen. please welcome the united


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