Only 25% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in either newspapers or TV news, according to a Gallup survey. That puts mainstream media on par with banks and slightly better than health maintenance organizations on the trust barometer. The stats are from Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions survey. At the top of the trust heap? The military. And at the bottom? Congress.

Gallup confidence survey

The results varied significantly by age. Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 said they had confidence in newspapers. However, disillusionment evidently sets in early, as the confidence level dropped to 16% among 30- to 49-year-olds, making them the most cynical group. Even liberals, who have traditionally been a stronghold of support for mainstream media, expressed support to the tune of  only 35%. It’s important to keep the results in perspective, though. Gallup has been conducting this survey annually for the last 20 years, and confidence in newspapers has never exceeded 39% during that time. However, confidence dipped from the low 30s to the low 20s about four years ago and has been stuck there ever since.

Good News for Hyperlocals

Hot new DC news startup TBD “resembles a sleek, coolly designed, high-tech house with several unfurnished rooms — and a market value yet to be determined,” writes Howard Kurtz in a generally favorable review of the most ambitious hyperlocal launch of the year. The site, which has 15 reporters buttressed by an army of 127 local bloggers, “has a voice, a sense of fun and a knack for packaging short items that creates the appearance of flow and momentum,” Kurtz writes. It also has some good political reporting, although the staff seems to be more focused on local news than national or global politics. TBD has been closely watched as a potential model for hyperlocal startups because of its inclusive approach to community journalism and its backing by a major media company, Allbritton Communications, which also owns The Politico, as well as a collection of regional television stations

Also on the hyperlocal front, BringMeTheNews, an aggregation and podcasting venture founded by former Twin Cities news anchor Rick Kupchella (right), just raised $1 million from two local investors. The site has an interesting business model and has reportedly been profitable since day one. It aggregates headlines and summaries from “hundreds of online news and non-traditional sources” around Minnesota and publishes them on its website. It also produces audio news summaries that are picked up by Minnesota radio stations and broadcast to about 1.5 million listeners each day. At the moment, the site produces no original content.

The advertising model is also novel: The site carries no more than four paid sponsors, who buy contracts of at least six months’ duration. Sponsors are also expected to “provide informational advertising of interest to our audience.” According to MinnPost, “Sponsored copy is integrated into the links BringMeTheNews curates, and carries the sponsor’s logo. Theoretically, the copy is useful information for readers (Explore Minnesota tourist guides, OptumHealth wellness tips) while still advancing the sponsor’s interest.”

Despite having only one-eighth the traffic of MinnPost, BringMeTheNews has apparently hit upon a revenue model that works, even at low volume levels. Kupchella said the business would still be viable without the radio component.

Miscellany

The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette will begin charging up to $15/mo. for access to local news articles. Non-print subscribers will be able to read 10 stories for free before the paywall goes up. The T&G is owned by The New York Times Co., which plans to build a paywall at its flagship newspaper in January. The Worcester experiment may be a pricing trial balloon. If a lot of people will pay $15/mo. to read the T&G, it’s good news for the Times. We doubt it, though.


More good news: PaidContent.org is hiring reporters. If you are  “deep into areas like online video or digital advertising or gaming,” “can pick apart a media company’s balance sheet” and/or “are dogged and enterprising,” drop a line to jobs@paidcontent.org. You’d better have expertise in media, though. That’s a given.


Having driven Tribune Co. into the ground in record time, Sam Zell now wants his money back. The Chicago real estate mogul invested $315 million in Tribune Co. back in 2007, which was arguably the worst time in history to invest in a newspaper company. He then demonstrated near-total ignorance of the business challenges facing the $6 billion company that he designated himself to run, and succeeded at steering the company into bankruptcy in a little more than 18 months. Well, that was fun, but now it’s time to cash out and go home. Chicago Business sorts through all the legalese, if you’re interested.

And Finally…

As if to underline the shrinking attention span of the American news consumer, American Public Media’s Marketplace Radio devoted all of six sentences to summarizing the world financial situation last week. The idea came about during a daily news meeting, when staffers were boiling down the factors underlying the global financial crisis and thought it would be funny to express them as simply as possible. Megan Garber has the background on Nieman Journalism Lab. We snipped out the 90-second segment below for your listening pleasure.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010 at 7:11 am and is filed under Advertising, Best/Worst, Business News, BusinessModel, Citizen Journalism, Demographics, Future of Journalism, Journalism, Local news, NewMedia, Newspapers, OnlineMedia, Paywalls, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Comments

  1. August 24, 2010 @ 11:03 am



    If readers actually saw how newspapers are processed from the inside of newsrooms each night, the percentage would drop even further.

    Posted by Newspaper Fan
  2. August 26, 2010 @ 7:59 pm



    I can’t help but laugh at Zell. Whatever possessed him?

    Congrats Sam, you didn’t due any due diligence, you bought a pig in a poke and now you’re screwed…

    Hope some of that real estate you own is a cemetery where you can bury the newspaper shares.

    Posted by msbpodcast
  3. August 27, 2010 @ 5:55 am