Google most trusted source for news and information

Newspapers, and legacy media in general, have always thought that a key competitive advantage is being viewed as a "trusted source" of news and information.

You've heard the punch line: "I saw it on the Internet, it must be true."

While newspapers don't have the technical prowness of a Google (or any number of Silicon Valley companies) or the "metabolism" (the new buzz term) of a Buzzfeed or a Gawker, or the scale of Yahoo, they owned "trusted source."

So the thinking goes ... until it collides with changing audience perceptions.

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer shows search engines (that means Google) have become the most trusted source of  general news and information among the "informed public" (college-educated, affluent, media consumers).

It's trend that continues to see the number of people decline who turn to newspapers as a first source of general information or breaking news and as a source to validate business news.


TV's influence is holding up better, holding flat or declining (instead of just declining). It has passed newspapers as source for general information, but it's mostly a race to own the bottom. Search is tied with TV as a source for breaking news and is by far the first source used to confirm or validate news.

And when it comes to social networks, we're most trusting of our family and friends than journalists. I'm not sure what that means if your friends and family are journalists?

The shift in trust is even more pronounced among "informed public" Millennials, where search enignes are the most trusted source for 72 percent vs 64 percent for traditional media (a slightly higher percentage than overall).

Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer for Millenails

Although it's not confirmed in the public-facing data, I suspect the explanation for the survey results is the convenience and perceived comprehensiveness of news-search results -- also the perceived objectivity. However "trust" is a complex and opaque term that can mean a number different things to different people.

Google's brand strength around the world is also likely a factor in these rankings.

-- Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land.

(Click on the images for larger views.)

W. Horace CarterGood watch for this holiday weekend, "The Editor and the Dragon," the story of W. Horace Carter (Jan. 20, 1921 - Sept. 16, 2009), a community newspaper editor in Tabor City, N.C., who courageously editorialized against the Carolina Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s as the organization was gaining power in the region around this town on the North and South Carolina border.

Carter survived death threats against himself and his family, and threats of economic boycotts against his paper. He says in the documentary "it would have been a much better story if I had got killed."

Carter's Tabor City Tribune and fellow Columbus County newspaper editor, Willard Cole of the Whiteville News Reporter, shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service journalism in 1953 for their editorials in opposition to the Klan and its violent activities.

Watch the documentary, which is narrated by Morgan Freeman. Also, here's a fascinating back story of the Carter's life and times.

The Dragon and the Editor

(W. Horace Carter photo from the Carter-Klan Documentary Project)

CNN gets FAA approval for drone tests

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My guess is this news is huge for news media use of drone aircraft.

News media heavyweight CNN has reached an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designed to usher in the use of drones in newsgathering and reporting. CNN plans on experimenting with the vehicles in producing video content, while the government agency says the initiative will help to inform its drone policy moving forward.

See story at

(Video: Matt Waite demonstrating drone at ONA conference in 2013.)

An ancient list of digital newspapers

David Carlson reminded me today of a list I created in November 1993 of all the U.S. newspapers I knew of that had electronic new services.

It wasn't a long list.

From jdlail@MAMACLAUS.OPUP.ORG Wed Dec  1 15:13:53 1993
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1993 20:45:13 -0500
From: jack lail <jdlail@MAMACLAUS.OPUP.ORG>
Reply to: Computer-assisted Reporting & Research <CARR-L@ULKYVM.LOUISVILLE.EDU>
To: Multiple recipients of list CARR-L <CARR-L@ULKYVM.LOUISVILLE.EDU>
Subject: Corrected Newspaper Electronic Services List

Yet another revision. Hopefully the last for awhile.

                     Newspapers with electronic services

The Albuquerque Tribune
Electronic Trib
Access: (505) 823-7700 or 823-7701, subscription
Launched: 1990
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Access Atlanta
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: 1989
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Access: Prodigy
Launched: February 1994
The Charlotte Observer
The Observer Online
Access: (704) 358-5072
Launched: 1992
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Online
Access: America Online, keyword Trib
Launched: 1992
The (Danbury, Conn.) News-Times
The News-Times BBS
Access: 203-792-6397
Launched: Sept. 1993
Detroit Free Press
Access: CompuServe
Launched: First quarter 1994
Florida Today
Florida Today
Access: CompuServe, go FLATODAY
Launched: February 1993
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: 1982
Gannett Suburban Newspapers
New York NewsLink
Access: CompuServe, Go NEWYORK
Launched: October 1993
Kansas City Star
Access: Dial-up
Launched: 1994
Los Angeles Times
Access: Prodigy
Launched: mid-1994
Middlesex News
The Middlesex Gopher
Access: via Internet, gopher
Launched: September 1993
Middlesex News
Fred the Computer
Access: (508) 872-8461
Launched: 1987
Middlesex News
The Middlesex Mailing List
Access: via Internet,
Launched: October 1993
Access: Prodigy
Launched: mid-1994
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Access: dial-up, subscription
Launched: 1992
The Poughkeepsie Journal
The Poughkeepsie Journal BBS
Access: 914-437-4936
Launched: November 1992
The (Raleigh) News & Observer
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: January 1994
San Jose Mercury News
Mercury Center
Access: America Online, keyword mc news
Launched: May 1993
The Spokesman-Review/Spokane Chronicle
S-R Minerva
Access: (509)459-5233
Launched: 1992
The Washington Post
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: Summer 1994
Sources: NAA, Mark Leff's list, various newspapers. Thanks for all the
pointers from CARR-L readers.

Social media drives traffic, but the prize is direct users

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Referral traffic to news sites

Facebook is an important source of website referrals for many news outlets, but the users who arrive via Facebook spend far less time and consume far fewer pages than those who arrive directly. The same is true of users arriving by search. Our analysis of comScore data found visitors who go to a news media website directly spend roughly three times as long as those who wind up there through search or Facebook, and they view roughly five times as many pages per month. This higher level of engagement from direct visitors is evident whether a site's traffic is driven by search or social sharing and it has big implications for news organizations who are experimenting with digital subscriptions while endeavoring to build a loyal audience.

Great piece by the Pew Research Center on "How social media is reshaping news."

(Image from Pew Research Center)


Evolving is a painful process

Tne Tennessean

For many, working at a newspaper doesn't seem all that fun anymore.

Chas Sisk had had enough.

The Tennessean had just fired Sisk and the entire staff of the paper the day before and asked them to reapply for their jobs. The reorganization was announced in the paper by executive editor Stefanie Murray as a "bold step forward in our evolution."

The Nashville Scene

The old and the new

The old knoxnews (a design in use for just over seven years) and the new design, launched July 22, 2014. The old site was on the "Ellington" platform; the new one uses "Endplay." What's up with the German ads? We use a screenshot service whose ip addresses are in Germany.

(Click on the image for a larger view.)


John Quinn, John Seigenthaler, 2010 in Nashville

(Journalists John Quinn and John Seigenthaler chatting at the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010.)

Some good pieces on the large life of John Seigenthaler:

I only ask however you can, whenever you can, please stand up for what Ben Franklin called a precious gift, worth preserving and protecting.

-- John Seigenthaler

Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change small events, and those acts can write the history of our generation.

-- Robert F. Kennedy

Another year, another year older

Researcher Greg Harmon of Borrell Associates says the average age of a print newspaper reader is 57 and the average newspaper web visitor is 51.  Saying the industry's aging demographics ought to have "everyone's hair on fire," Harmon notes that newspaper readers have been getting a year older every year for more than a decade. 

-- Alan D. Mutter