6 min

Journalism and Social Media - July 2016


#media #socialmedia #business #humor #moronism

Guardian story:

How journalism has adapted to the era of social media, where creating an emotional connection trumps getting the facts straight


This sounds like more whining by the media industry. Once again, the media blames something else for their problems.

Why did the media choose to participate in this so-called abusive technology? Because media needs the page views. That means more #advertising dollars. The media needs this because they offer their product for free.

It's not technology's fault that the media failed to create a viable business.

And if Facebook never contained a news story from a professional media org, Facebook would still be huge, and it would continue to hum along because the users get other value from Facebook than as a place to read news.

#quote from the Guardian post:

"Now, we are caught in a series of confusing battles between opposing forces: between truth and falsehood, fact and rumour, kindness and cruelty; between the few and the many, the connected and the alienated; between the open platform of the web as its architects envisioned it and the gated enclosures of Facebook and other social networks; between an informed public and a misguided mob.


In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true – as we often see in emergency situations, when news is breaking in real time.

Sometimes rumours like these spread out of panic, sometimes out of malice, and sometimes deliberate manipulation, in which a corporation or regime pays people to convey their message. Whatever the motive, falsehoods and facts now spread the same way, through what academics call an “information cascade”.

Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs.

The media often harps on the info in that last paragraph.

Facebook, which launched only in 2004, now has 1.6bn users worldwide. It has become the dominant way for people to find news on the internet – and in fact it is dominant in ways that would have been impossible to imagine in the newspaper era.

And to be more accurate, Facebook did not become available to everyone until September 2006. It's not even 10-years-old for the majority of its users.

The future of publishing is being put into the “hands of the few, who now control the destiny of the many”. News publishers have lost control over the distribution of their journalism, which for many readers is now “filtered through algorithms and platforms which are opaque and unpredictable”. This means that social media companies have become overwhelmingly powerful in determining what we read – and enormously profitable from the monetisation of other people’s work. As Bell notes: “There is a far greater concentration of power in this respect than there has ever been in the past.”

Yet, nearly every newspaper contains either a Facebook share button on each article page, allows Facebook comments on its article pages, and syndicates its content in some form to Facebook.

Don't participate.

Publications curated by editors have in many cases been replaced by a stream of information chosen by friends, contacts and family, processed by secret algorithms. The old idea of a wide-open web – where hyperlinks from site to site created a non-hierarchical and decentralised network of information – has been largely supplanted by platforms designed to maximise your time within their walls, some of which (such as Instagram and Snapchat) do not allow outward links at all.

Every shiny, new technology that becomes available, newspapers eventually jump aboard, thinking that "this" will be the thing that helps their business.

Instead of whining about the rapidly changing technology landscape and how users consume information, maybe the newspapers should do their own innovation and/or disconnect from social media.

You want read, visit our website, but first, you have to subscribe. That won't work? Well, that's not Facebook's problem.

Many newspapers have existed for more than 100 years. Facebook has been available to the world for not quite 10 years. Newspapers should have had a huge lead over social networking and entertainment websites.

Many people, in fact, especially teenagers, now spend more and more of their time on closed chat apps, which allow users to create groups to share messages privately – perhaps because young people, who are most likely to have faced harassment online, are seeking more carefully protected social spaces. But the closed space of a chat app is an even more restrictive silo than the walled garden of Facebook or other social networks.

As the pioneering Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who was imprisoned in Tehran for six years for his online activity, wrote in the Guardian earlier this year, the “diversity that the world wide web had originally envisioned” has given way to “the centralisation of information” inside a select few social networks – and the end result is “making us all less powerful in relation to government and corporations”.

Yes, some news geeks, blogging-RSS geeks, and maybe a few other geeks like the concept of the open web or #indieweb but the masses don't care about those details. The masses simply want to use a toaster by pressing down the lever. They don't want to build their own toaster from scratch and power it by using their own generated electricity.

Facebook made it easy for the masses to connect, create, and share on the internet. That's not Facebook's fault.

Of course, Facebook does not decide what you read – at least not in the traditional sense of making decisions – and nor does it dictate what news organisations produce. But when one platform becomes the dominant source for accessing information, news organisations will often tailor their own work to the demands of this new medium.

Blame belongs to the media and not Facebook.

In the last few years, many news organisations have steered themselves away from public-interest journalism and toward junk-food news, chasing page views in the vain hope of attracting clicks and advertising (or investment) – but like junk food, you hate yourself when you’ve gorged on it.

Blame belongs to the media and not Facebook.

Should I blame Stanley for producing a hammer if I decide to hold the hammer in my right hand and pulverize my left hand with the hammer?

Finally, the writer decides that the media is at fault too.

Of course, journalists have got things wrong in the past – either by mistake or prejudice or sometimes by intent.

So it would be a mistake to think this is a new phenomenon of the digital age. But what is new and significant is that today, rumours and lies are read just as widely as copper-bottomed facts – and often more widely, because they are wilder than reality and more exciting to share.

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