Chart: The Fake News Problem
Peer opinion fills a void left by falling trust in mass media
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
There’s been no shortage of blame passed around for the so-called “fake news” epidemic that has been front and center since the U.S. election.
Social media has been singled out as one key factor leading to the spread of misleading or false news. However, low barriers to entry for creating content, hyperpartisanism, confirmation bias, and the echo-chamber effect have also been identified as causes or symptoms in the proliferation of such stories.
It’s certainly a complex problem to unravel, and many proposed solutions are just as alarming as the symptoms they try to treat. The decentralization and fragmentation of information is the core of what makes the internet great, and this democratization helps to decouple power away from the established institutions that may or may not have our interests at heart.
How do we regulate news for its authority and legitimacy without stifling alternate viewpoints, differing narratives, and independent sources of information?
In today’s landscape, people are turning away from traditional media and gravitating towards digital content. In this new digital media paradigm, who is considered a trustworthy and convenient source of information?
As long as they could remain reputable, the mainstream outlets that garnered eyeballs throughout broadcasting history should have been the obvious benefactors of this transition. Groups like CNN and Fox News, or The New York Times and The Washington Post, could have remained unquestioned authorities on the issues.
However, it seems like this opportunity has been recently squandered to some extent. These outlets have been slow to adopt their business strategies to the digital landscape, and they remain in damage control mode as advertising revenues drop and profitability wanes. Publishers have been under immense pressure to generate views, and have taken shortcuts in content creation to do this. Hyperpartisan viewpoints that confirm existing biases (aka, the Huffington Post or Breitbart models) and sensational clickbait headlines have been one easy way to build traffic. Some publishers also have an itchy trigger finger, and it seems that getting a story out first has become more important than verifying its validity.
These above factors have, ironically, led to mass media as being a direct part of the “fake news” problem. The retracted stories on Russian propaganda by the Washington Post have been a lightning rod for scrutiny, and entire posts are dedicated to keeping misleading stories from established media at bay. Having a track record with zero blemishes is obviously a difficult target to hit, but the reality is that we are seeing misleading news from everywhere now: “fake news” outlets, mainstream outlets, and the White House itself.
Falling Trust in Media and Institutions
Even before “fake news” hit the mainstream, a poll by Gallup showed that Americans’ trust in mass media was hitting an all-time low. In September 2016, only 32% of people said they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, which is a decline of -8% from the previous year.
A report from Edelman from January 2017 is even more damning. Trust of the media declined -5% from 2016, which is faster than trust is declining in government (-1%), business (-1%), and NGOs (-2%).
As we mentioned earlier, the rise of fake news is complex and very difficult to untangle. However, the fact is that established news outlets aren’t doing themselves any favors. If people feel like they can’t trust the Washington Post or other such sources, then it should be no surprise that they are turning to the power of “word of mouth” from their peers more often – no matter how fallible this might be.
Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?
A revealing look at consolidation and ownership of news media outlets in the United States. See who owns news media, and where ‘news deserts’ exist.
Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?
It’s no secret that news media is a tough industry.
For various reasons — from tech disruption to changing media consumption habits — the U.S. has seen a net loss of 1,800 local newspapers over the past 15 years. As regional newspapers are bundled together, and venture-backed digital media brands expand their portfolios, the end result is a trend towards increased consolidation.
Today’s graphic, created by TitleMax, is a broad look at who owns U.S. news media outlets.
Escaping the News Desert
As outlets battle the duopoly of Google and Facebook for advertising revenue, the local news game has become increasingly difficult.
As a result, news deserts have been springing up all over America:
What happens when times get tough?
One option is to simply go out of business, while another traditional solution is to combine forces through consolidation. While not ideal, the latter option at least provides a potential route to revenue and cost synergies that make it easier to compete in a challenging environment.
Nation of Consolidation
Though the numbers have decreased in recent years, regional news media still reaches millions of people each day.
Below is a look at the top 20 owners of America’s newspapers:
|Parent Companies||Total Papers||Example brands|
|New Media Investment Group||451||Patriot Ledger, The Columbus Dispatch, The Providence Journal|
|Gannett||216||USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Arizona Republic|
|Digital First Media||158||Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Denver Post|
|Adams Publishing Group||144||The Charlotte Sun, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle|
|CNHI||114||Niagara Gazette, The Huntsville Item, The Lebanon Reporter|
|Lee Enterprises||100||Arizona Daily Sun, St. Louis Post Dispatch|
|Ogden Newspapers||81||The Maui News, The Toledo Chronicle, Salem News|
|Tribune Publishing||77||Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun|
|Berkshire Hathaway Media||75||Buffalo News, Winston-Salem Journal, Omaha World-Herald|
|Shaw Media||71||Suburban Life Magazine, Putnam County Record|
|Boone Newspapers||66||The Austin Daily Herald, The Charlotte Gazette|
|Hearst Corp.||66||San Francisco Chronicle, Seattlepi.com, Houston Chronicle|
|Paxton Media Group||58||Daily Corinthian, Connersville News-Examiner|
|Landmark Media Enterprises||55||Citrus County Chronicle, The News-Enterprise|
|Community Media Group||51||Lafayette Leader, The Wellsboro Gazette|
|AIM Media||50||Odessa American, El Nuevo Heraldo|
|McClatchy||49||Idaho Statesman, Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee|
|Advance Publications||46||The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, The Oregonian, NJ.com|
|Rust Communications||44||Cherokee Chronicle Times, Southeast Missourian|
|News Media Corp.||43||Cheyenne Minuteman, Brookings Register, Newport News Times|
Turnover in this segment of the market has been brisk. In fact, more than half of existing newspapers have changed ownership in the past 15 years, some multiple times. For example, the LA Times is now in the hands of its third owner since 2000, after being purchased by billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The industry may be facing another dramatic drop off in ownership diversity as the two largest players, New Media Investment Group and Gannett, are on the path to merging. If shareholders give the thumbs-up during the vote this November, Gannett will have amassed the largest online audience of any American news provider.
The Flying Vs: Vox and Vice
It isn’t just regional papers being swept up in the latest round of mergers and acquisitions — new media is getting into the mix as well.
Vox Media recently inked a deal to acquire New York Media, the firm behind New York Magazine, Vulture, and The Cut.
I think you’re going to see that trend [of consolidation] across the industry. I just hope it’s done for the right reasons. You see too many of these things done for financial engineering.
– Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media
Meanwhile, Vice recently acquired Refinery29 for $400 million, giving it access to a new audience skewed towards millennial women. This match-up seems awkward on the surface, but it allows advertisers to reach a broader cross-section of people within each ad ecosystem.
Both companies announced layoffs in the past year, and this restructuring may help both companies win as they consolidate resources.
The Bottom Line
While news media isn’t quite as consolidated as the broader media ecosystem, it’s certainly trending in that direction. Thousands of American communities that had local newspapers in 2004 now have no news coverage at all, while remaining papers are increasingly becoming units within an umbrella company, with no direct stake in community reporting.
That said, until the issue of monetization is definitively sorted out, consolidation may be the only way to keep the presses from stopping.
About the Graphic
This list of top 100 news sites was compiled using the following criteria:
– The top “digital-native” news outlets by monthly unique visitors (Pew Research and ComScore, excluding sports)
– The top newspapers by average Sunday circulation (Pew Research and Alliance for Audited Media)
– Alexa’s top sites under the category of news (U.S. only, excluding user-generated)
Note: The graphic has been updated to reflect changes in ownership for Refinery29, Gizmodo, and Jezebel.
How the eSports Industry Fares Against Traditional Sports
eSports has evolved into a billion dollar industry in just a decade, but how does it fare against traditional sports when it comes to monetization?
How the eSports Industry Fares Against Traditional Sports
In just a decade, electronic sports (eSports) has evolved from an underground culture into a mainstream industry worth billions of dollars today.
The industry is growing at an explosive rate, and with major tech giants like Amazon and Google vying for a piece of the pie, the future of this industry is an exciting one.
It’s no surprise that eSports is often compared to its predecessor, traditional sports. However, eSports certainly has none of the typical confines of a traditional sport—so how does it compare in terms of audience size, market potential, and revenue?
An Equal Playing Field?
eSports is an umbrella term for competitions played on electronic systems, typically by professional video gamers—with the first competition dating back to 1972.
The 16 to 24-year-old audience has increased by 60% since 2017, fueling the rapid growth of this emerging industry. The global audience is expected to grow to 276 million by 2022, with League of Legends tournaments often boasting a higher viewership than some of the biggest U.S. leagues:
Cumulative Viewership (2017 finals)
- NFL Super Bowl: 124 million viewers
- League of Legends: 58 million viewers
- MLB World Series: 38 million viewers
- NBA Finals: 32 million viewers
- NHL Stanley Cup Finals: 11 million viewers
While viewership can surpass that of well-known professional leagues, it doesn’t yet stack up in terms of monetization. That said, this aspect is now increasing enough to be seen as a threat to more traditional leagues.
How Much is eSports Worth?
According to Goldman Sachs, eSports will exceed $1 billion in revenue in 2019, and reach $3 billion by 2022. eSports creates the foundation for an entire ecosystem of opportunities, which include live-streaming, game development, player fanbases, and brand investments for sponsorship and advertising—where 82% of revenue currently comes from.
Although eSports under-indexes on monetization relative to the size of its audience, there is a huge opportunity for it to close the gap, given the predicted 35% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total eSports revenue between 2017 and 2022.
Getting Attention from the World’s Biggest Players
The success of eSports tournaments is attributed to live-streaming platforms. Amazon’s purchase of leading video-streaming site, Twitch, allowed Amazon to tap into the rapidly growing eSports audience, along with other live-streaming opportunities. Since the acquisition in 2014, the number of average viewers has doubled to 15 million, half of YouTube’s daily viewership.
Google, which lost the bidding war for Twitch, has recently made its own big move into gaming with cloud gaming service Google Stadia. Ultimately, the company hopes it will help keep live-streamers on YouTube instead of competing platforms.
The Future of eSports
Over time, eSports will tap into bigger advertising budgets, and reach national, regional, and global levels, as traditional sports are able to. eSports will also be a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, which could pave the way for full Olympic status.
As a whole, eSports is starting to seriously compete with the big leagues. With a massive worldwide appeal, passionate fans, and billion-dollar revenues, the industry is only beginning to take flight.
The debate however, is not around the battle between eSports and traditional sports. It is around the shift to celebrating a culture that is completely virtual, over one that is physical—which has much bigger implications.
Markets9 months ago
The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Giant Chart
Maps12 months ago
Mercator Misconceptions: Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries
Advertising8 months ago
Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce
Misc11 months ago
24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Advertising7 months ago
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Technology10 months ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Chart of the Week9 months ago
Chart: The World’s Largest 10 Economies in 2030
Environment8 months ago
The World’s 25 Largest Lakes, Side by Side