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Minutes of Tom Appleby Meeting

Tom Appleby

9/8/16

Mr. Appleby addressed the question, where is the news going in the next five years? By way of background, he stated that Pew Research has determined that 70% of adults follow national and local news regularly, while 65% follow international news. Their sources are as follows:

Cable/network television: 52%

Social media: 38%

Radio: 25%

Newspapers: 20%

Additionally, the median ages associated with news outlets reflect change. For example, consider the following median ages:

CNN: 59

Fox: 68

NY Times: 60

Digital: 54

In contrast, 2/3 of those obtaining their news from Facebook are under 34 and 66% of Facebook users obtain their news from that site. These numbers have more impact when you realize that 20 million people in the U.S. use Facebook every month.

Facebook has a tremendous influence as a news source. But Facebook ranks its stories and their placement depending on what it determines is most interesting to its readers. This approach, which is established by algorithm doesn’t provide in-depth coverage of a topic or any check on a story’s accuracy. One risk associated with this approach aside from accuracy and truthfulness is that people are only provided with stories that the algorithm says they want, which limits exposure to other things going on in the world.

Facebook has also predicted that in five years all stories will be provided by video. This again limits the scope of information that can be provided.

An adjunct to the video trend is live streaming. This means video, usually taken by cell phone and uploaded live to audiences as events occur. While this can be exciting, there is no filter on such live broadcasts, which means that some very inappropriate subjects can be transmitted. Also live streaming provides no attribution, fact check, or way to establish what is staged or what is real. This approach makes every person with a cell phone a reporter.

New businesses have sprung up to assist with live streaming. Stories are submitted to news organizations that are really ads for products submitted as news stories. Other companies provide stories with photos and video clips that may come from other places than the subject of a story, but make it more interesting and viewable.

Another trend is news anchors providing opinion in the guise of news rather than just providing facts. Many people prefer this as it makes a story more interesting.

Q&A

Q. How would you rate Matt Lauer’s performance considering that he didn’t demand facts to back up candidates’ statements?

A. If you get a non-answer to a question what do you do? An interviewer has to follow-up with a cross-examination type question, or move on. Follow-up questions often bore an audience so the tendency is to move on.

Q. What is the present influence of newspapers?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Where can you go to get straight news and not opinions?

A. Most major network anchors attempt to give straight news.

Q. What about the accuracy of weather forecasts?

A. Channel 12 has five meteorologists in five different locals. They confer every day to reach some common forecast, but there are bound to be errors because of the geography covered.

Q. What are the credentials of major news anchors?

A. The test is whether they do a good job of presenting the facts, not what their educational background may be.

Q. Where can you find world news?

A. The networks give it at set times.

Q. If Kim Kardashian came to town would you cover it?

A. Yes.

Q. Where do you find news on Facebook?

A. I am not familiar enough with Facebook to tell you.

Q. How can you get Channel 12 news when you have Direct TV?

A. It is available through Optimum on your smartphone.

Q. Where do you see the future going?

A. We are all struggling with that issue. But it is almost certain that more news will be unfiltered.

Q. Why not cover Hartford?

A. We did, but it’s a long way away and most news out of there is boring. Plus CTV covers all of it.