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TODD SMITH — Americans feel misunderstood by the media


Tensions inside American newsrooms have emerged amid the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody, including clashes between reporters and editors and concerns about newsroom diversity.

While a recent study shows Blacks give high marks to the news media’s coverage of the protests, a national survey conducted before the protests found deep divides between racial and ethnic groups in feelings of how the news media represent them.

While most Americans say that the news media do not understand them, Black, Hispanic and Whites often cite very different reasons for why they are misunderstood, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 18-March 2, 2020.

Overall, 59% of Americans think news organizations do not understand people like them, while a minority – 37% – say they do feel understood. This feeling is about on par with the last time the question was asked in 2018.

While no one reason dominates when looking at all Americans, sizable gaps exist between racial and ethnic groups in why they feel misunderstood. Roughly similar portions of Blacks (58%), Hispanics (55%) and Whites (61%) say the news media misunderstand them, but they cite markedly different reasons for this misunderstanding.

Blacks are far more likely than the other two groups to feel that the misunderstanding is based on their race or some other demographic trait. Among Black adults who think the news media do not understand people like them, about a third (34%) say the main way they are misunderstood is their personal characteristics. This is far higher than the 10% of White adults and 17% of Hispanic adults who say the same.

Whites, on the other hand, are far more likely than the other groups to say the problem stems from political misunderstandings. Of White adults who say news organizations misunderstand them, nearly four-in-ten (39%) say it’s mostly based on their political views. About a quarter of Hispanic Americans say the same, and both groups are higher than Black Americans (15%).

All three racial or ethnic groups are about on par in thinking that the news media misunderstand their social and economic class.

A similar question was posed to those who feel the news media do understand them, asking how they are most understood, and again, no single reason dominates. But on this question, the divides by race and ethnicity are often not nearly as large.

Divides do emerge between political parties and other demographic groups in whether they feel news organizations understand them. For instance, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are far more likely to feel the news media misunderstand them than Democrats and Democratic leaners (73% vs. 47%). Male adults are somewhat more likely than female adults to feel this, and those ages 18 to 29 are more likely to say this than those older than them.

Divides between the parties and demographic groups also emerge when it comes to why they feel misunderstood, though these divides are often not as large as by race and ethnicity, particularly when it comes to the feeling that their personal characteristics are misunderstood.

Google Updates Newsroom Analytics Tools

Google has launched new tools for newsrooms to better understand their online audiences and how those audiences feed into their overall business.

These efforts are part of the broader Google News Initiative, introduced in 2018 as a way for the search giant to back quality journalism and find other ways to support the industry. Since then, Google has introduced two journalism-focused products at the top of Google Analytics – News Consumer Insights, which is designed to help publishers grow their audiences and become more profitable, as well as Realtime Content Insights, which is aimed at helping newsrooms tap into what’s trending, according to TechCrunch.

Google has introduced version 2.0 of both News Consumer Insights and Realtime Content Insights, while also adding a new feature called the News Tagging Guide.

NTG should make it easier for publishers to collect the data they need. That falls into three broad categories: video analytics, user engagement and reader revenue. Publishers can select the category and the specific types of data they want to track, and Google will provide JavaScript for copying/pasting onto their website to start feeding that data into Google Analytics.

Meanwhile, the News Consumer Insights product now includes personalized recommendations for the publisher.

And Realtime Content Insights have been expanded to include similar data about video content, as well as historic performance data, so publishers can see which stories performed best in a given period of time.

RCI also tracks social sharing and engagement, and identifies which stories are doing better with casual readers versus loyal readers (who visit more than once a month) versus brand loyalists (who visit at least 15 times a month).

Country Mic: Charlie Daniels Rosins His Bow for a Heavenly Audience

Charlie Daniels has taken his fiddle and sho’ nuff country swagger to a much higher audience.

The legendary Country Music Hall of Famer, most known for his classic ballad “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” who crossed into pop, Southern rock, and rock ‘n’ roll, died on Monday at age 83 after suffering a major stroke.

The icon recorded with the likes of Bob Dylan and was a major supporter of U.S. veterans, too.

By the time the Charlie Daniels Band topped the charts with “Devil” in 1979, the instrumentalist, singer and songwriter had long established a remarkable, multifaceted career in Nashville. As a session musician, he played on three of Bob Dylan’s albums – including the revolutionary “Nashville Skyline” – as well as recordings for Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen.  

He was a fixture of the touring circuit for more than four decades and entered into the digital age as one of country music’s most celebrated voices.

A native of Wilmington, N.C., Daniels grew up inspired by gospel and bluegrass music and learned his craft listening to Nashville’s radio stalwarts WSM and WLAC, which pumped country and blues music to much of the nation on the most powerful radio waves of the era.

Daniels rolled into Music City in the late 1960s and set down roots that made him world famous. By chance, in 1969 Daniels subbed for an absent guitarist during a Dylan recording session – and the rock legend would have no other for his upcoming sessions. Daniels cut two more Dylan albums “Self Portrait” and “New Morning,” while skyrocketing in his country career.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” smashed the country charts in 1979 – and became an iconic crossover hit – climbing to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 behind The Knack’s “My Sharona” and Earth Wind and Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone.”

The song won Daniels a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, and it was branded into the history books a year later when Daniels and his band performed it in the “Urban Cowboy” movie.

In 1994, Daniels returned to the gospel music that influenced him as a child, releasing his first Christian album, “The Door.” The record would yield Daniels his first of three Grammy Award nominations for Southern gospel recordings. He would earn his last Grammy Award nomination in 2005, for Country Instrumental Performance on “I’ll Fly Away.” 

Daniels helped launch Blue Hat Records in 1997, a label home for late career releases the likes of “Road Dogs” and Dylan tribute collection, “Off The Grid.” 

At age 70, he joined other country music legends enshrined as a Grand Ole Opry member, where he regularly performed until his death.

In 2016, Daniels earned a top honor for any Nashville musician: a place alongside the all-time greats in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Entering at nearly 80 years old, he joined Randy Travis and Fred Foster for that year’s Hall of Fame class.

Somewhere, beyond the Pearly Gates, one of the greatest fiddlers of all time has joined an angelic choir, rosined up his bow – and is once again chasing the devil out of town!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, follow him @spinsurgeon and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.


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