Guardian

The News of Eastern Europe: Brought to You by Russia

For ten years, the Russian government has built media across eastern Europe. They are becoming a fearsome player in the region’s media market.
 
Last March, far-right British activist Jim Dowson told the Guardian that the website Patriotic News Agency, which he had launched in July 2016 to spread pro-Trump propaganda, has bases in Hungary and Serbia. He said that other such platforms are also based there.
 

Helena Bengtsson: Bringing People Back to Facts, Our Biggest Challenge

Interview with Helena Bengtsson of the Guardian in Britain, previously the database editor at Sveriges Television, Sweden’s national television broadcaster.
 
Helena Bengtsson is the editor of data projects at the Guardian newspaper in London, United Kingdom. She previously worked as the database editor at Sveriges Television, Sweden’s national television broadcaster. In 2006 and 2007, she was the database editor at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. She has been awarded the Stora Journalistpriset (Great Journalism Award) in Sweden twice, in 2010 for Valpejl.se and in 2016 for Innovator of the Year.
 

Is Donor Funding Bad for Journalism?

Funding from donors in the media has grown significantly during the past decade or so. Journalists welcome the charity. But when these awards come with editorial “advice”, we have a problem.
 
Thisisafrica.me is an online media outlet that brands itself as a “leading forum for African opinion, arts and music.” They cover a jumble of topics ranging from politics to corruption to sex and reproductive policies. The site publishes op-eds, interviews and investigations. Its journalism has been widely praised across the continent.
 
But in spite of its apparent popularity, Thisisafrica.me is in business mainly thanks to donor funding: cash doled out by foundations and deep-pocketed philanthropists. Without cash from donors, Thisisafrica.me wouldn’t exist. That is hardly surprising, especially on a continent ravaged by poverty where markets can rarely support high-quality journalism.
 
But over the past decade or so, as the internet and dwindling economies have clobbered mainstream media companies, funding independent journalism has become a major problem everywhere. Ad spend is down or spread to many more outlets than before. Newspaper circulations have dived. Journalists and media companies take funding from almost all kinds of givers, donors included. Even established media are increasingly resorting to private donors.

Subtly Silenced by the Hungarian Government

The editor in chief of Budapest Business Journal is leaving the newspaper. Here, he explains why.
 
Along with passing a package of restrictive media laws and seeking to influence ownership of media outlets, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party is also using bullying tactics and intimidation in its broad campaign to silence criticism of the government. As a recent victim of this subtle strategy, I have to admit that it seems to be working.
 
After being told to stop writing about politics in the editorial column, I resigned as editor in chief of the Budapest Business Journal. Fidesz can now expect criticism of its government to drop by about 1,200 words a month.
 

The BBC in the Dock Over Bias

Researchers point to clear and consistent bias on the main BBC bulletins in favor of critics of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn following a wave of shadow cabinet resignations after the UK decided to leave the EU.
 
The BBC, the U.K.’s flagship broadcaster, has been for decades a model of inspiration for other public media supporters across the globe. The public broadcaster was lauded for its governing structure, which prevented political interference, and for its funding model, which ensures stable, long-term financing. But above all, the BBC garnered kudos for its unbiased, objective, fact-anchored reporting – a paragon of independent journalism.
 
In recent years, however, the BBC has come under increased critical scrutiny for its slanted coverage. A recent study by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) and Birkbeck, University of London, browbeat the British broadcaster for its “consistent bias” against Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party.
 
The study’s findings are worrisome not so much because of the target of the bias, an opposition politician, but for how the BBC is performing its public service media role.

Analytics in the Newsroom: Just How Powerful Can They Become?

The use of data and analytics to track audience behavior is becoming increasingly more central in newsrooms around the world. A data-informed approach, once associated with brands like BuzzFeed or Gawker, is now making inroads in organizations like the Guardian, Die Welt or the BBC. But significant gaps remain in how different newsrooms use analytics for editorial purposes. 
 
A new study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism analyzes how a range of different newsrooms across Europe and North America are developing their use of analytics – systematic analysis of quantitative data on audience behavior – as part of the battle for attention. 
 
The first and most evident sign of the rise of analytics in newsrooms around the world is the spread of tools to track audiences. Many newsrooms employ some sort of off-the-shelf tools and gather real-time traffic insights, which they often use in an ad-hoc manner to help increase day-to-day traffic and reach.
 
In many cases though, this generic approach – focused on short-term optimization goals - pretty much summarizes the organization’s analytics strategy.