The importance of "zero-party" data for local news outlets

How pubplishers are experimenting with their own AI chatbots

By now, publishers have acknowledged the importance of first-party data as platforms like Google and Apple offer privacy as a feature to users. It might seem self-serving for those companies, but there is customer demand for it. Now, Dorrine Mendoza with the Local Media Association in the US introduces the idea of zero-party data, where users willingly offer you data when they offer you information about themselves with registrations, newsletters or contest offerings. It’s quite an old idea - users trade their data for access or some other tangible benefit, but with the changes in the industry it is gaining new currency. I think the new realisation is that while data is critical so are the relationships that you have with your audiences. It is the basis for sustainable reader revenue business.

Publishers are working hard to adjust to the new world of AI, and in doing so, they want to own their destiny. One area that seems to be a focus of experimentation and product development is the development of AI chatbots using their own material, and the tech publisher behind Macworld and PCWorld are trying their hand at building their own AI chatbots.

Another area of experimentation with AI is using the tools to make simple editorial tasks easier such as transcription or summarisation. Paul Cheung at the Reynolds Journalism Institute in the US reviews a couple.

Industry News - Layoffs at the Washington Post and the Texas Tribune

Layoffs (or redundancies for my UK readers) are sadly not an uncommon thing in media, but these two rounds highlight some shifts in the industry that bear mentioning. The Washington Post has announced layoffs at its CMS division - Arc XP. This comes after it passed on an opportunity to sell the business and it announced long-term plans for it.

And the Texas Tribune also announced a round of layoffs, its first ever. The non-profit news organisation has been held up as a model for others to follow, and it was an early mover in what is now a movement in the US towards the non-profit model. However, the same issues plaguing for-profit news operations - a shift in the platform eco-system and soft ad sales - are affecting the non-profit standard bearer as well.

While local news has been seen as one of the most challenging areas of the journalism and media business in the last decade in the US and UK, there are positive developments. And in the US, a local publisher in the South - New Orleans and other communities in southern Louisiana - has been doing quite well. The secret is revenue diversification, and that is one of the major themes on the commercial side of publishing. The more sources of revenue a publisher has, the more resilient the business is.

This development caught my eye mainly because it is pinned to a new phase of international expansion for the Independent. Their registration-driven, data-led strategy is definitely paying dividends.

And there were two major misinformation stories over my long weekend - one to do with Russia and another to do with the Chinese. As both countries face challenges, they will increasingly turn to information operations in an attempt to manage the information space both domestically and internationally.

As someone who embraced blogging back in the early 2000s and can honestly say that blogs helped transform my career, it is sad to see a blogging platform in France pass into archives. But it’s an interesting look at the transformation and transition in technologies and social technologies.

Others, Clairouin told me, have seemed nostalgic for a “more intimate,” less centralized internet, before the era of Big Tech platform dominance. “We see today a desire…to again find spaces that are smaller, more constrained, less open,” he said.

Columbia Journalism Review