How media start ups try to secure the old rules of Journalism

There are new ways of exchanging, selling, and buying news items. But there is a great deal of important info and content that is just adapted from the internet, embedded twitter links, instagram links etc. are functioning as supporting content for the newsfeed of big media companies. “Everybody suddenly got a lot more freedom”, as Emily Bell puts it (2007: 1).

But this freedom also means that professional journalists have difficulties reporting their stories or selling their content to media firms. Partly, the job of professionally reporting an event has lost its urgency because of the fact that ‘everyone’ can be a reporter by using their social media devices. Journalists depend on content selling in order to secure payment. The overwhelmingly presence of social media reports can cause difficulty to this very practice.

Cont3nt.com is a company that wants to help journalists get their monopoly on the news back. Its goal is to create a platform for journalists to exchange, sell, and buy content. In this way the copyrights of professionals are protected.

But since journalists can profit from their saliency on social media it is not clear if they will turn to the new initiative. They could adjust to the changes and create a profitable base by putting content on social. Beside this, using twitter will always be more easy and cheaper than paying for professional journalists, media firms could simply ignore the initiative, it is not clear if their is any need from their perspective.

So, in a lot of ways, cont3nt.com seems a promising project, but maybe the changes are getting ahead of the initiative. It could be questioned if the freedom that Bell et al. described isn’t already gone ahead of the communicative freedom that cont3nt.com wants us to get used to.

Word count: 296

Bibliography:

 

Bell, E. (2007). The Future: Journalism and Media as Post Industries.

Company.cont3nt.com

Journalism in fact free society: do we have to ignore the newsworthy?

“Meeting the demands of the audience result in useful and interesting findings, but that is called marketing”, states journalist Bas Haan in an essay in Dutch Newspaper NRC. Haan argues that journalists have to be driven by their own curiousness, rather than driven by audience demand. Some highly newsworthy news items can be no more than non-factual opinions of, for example, politicians. In such a case a journalist maybe has to decide to ignore highly newsworthy news items.

According to McQuail in ‘What is Journalism?’ there are certain characteristics of what is considered as ‘news’. For example, news has to be newsworthy and beside that it has to be factual and reflective to reality (2005: 16). The audience expects that the journalist is a “carrier of news and a former of opinion” (2005: 20). The plausibility of this expectation depends on the political system being one of democratic institutions.

At this point I think a problem arises according to Haan. In a democratic society where the political and public debates are no longer constructed on facts, or at least a interpretation of facts, it is much more difficult for journalists to carry the news in a factual, reflective and newsworthy way. In this political era of ‘fake news’ politicians, for example U.S. President Trump, sometimes do express themselves by statements with no factual foundation. But as long as Trump is a newsworthy person and his statements are relevant to reality, does this mean that journalistic media have to report all of Trump’s newsworthy statements?

Even though I do not wish to take a stand in this discussion myself, I do think that McQuail does not look to those possible conflicts between audience expectation, characteristics of the news and journalist’s values.

 

Word Count: 292

 

Bibliography

McQuail, D. (2005). What is Journalism? How is it linked to Society? Sage Publications

Haan, B. (2017). Niks #ophef! Laat journalistiek zich aan feiten houden. NRC Handelsblad. https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/11/03/niks-ophef-laat-journalistiek-zich-aan-feiten-houden-13837942-a1579915

How the Focus on Pageviews creates a Cold and Calculative Newsroom

Approximately 73% of the UK’s and US’ newsrooms are focussing on the number of pageviews when reviewing stories on their sites. According to an article on journalism website mediashift the data is used in order to complement the editorial instinct of determining story selection.

In the mediashift article it is argued that journalist simply should accept that the use pageview data is being normalized. “Pageviews are not as bad everyone makes. They tell us something. The more pageviews, the more advertising impressions”, the article states. I think that the standing point of mediashift does illustrates that journalism is becoming a more and more consumer based profession. It is exactly this consumer focus that is opposed to the communitarian ethics of journalism, according to Tandoc and Thomas (2014).

Tandoc and Thomas discuss the media’s use of tracking data, the kind of data that shows which topics the audience are interested in (2014). Pageview data is another kind of data that shows audience’s preferences of different kind of articles, rather than preference for topics. I want to argue that because of focusing on pageviews, journalist tend to write their articles in different ways. They will lose their creativity and journalist intuition in order to safeguard their jobs. They will produce articles with ‘click and view’ potential. In this way journalism is becoming beside consumer based, a profession of cold calculation without creativity.

It is indeed the case that pageview data has entered the newsrooms, and it will not go away soon. Of course newsrooms have to use the data in order to survive financially. But news media have to find a way to secure their journalist’s creativity and intuition. Otherwise new technologies will create a cold an calculative newsroom.

 

Word Count: 287

 

Bibliography:

 

E.C. Tandoc jr. and R.J. Thomas (2014). The Ethics of Web Analytics. Digital Journalism 3:2. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group

 

Neheli, N.B. (2017). Stop Saying Pageviews Don’t Matter. on Mediashift.org.

How the NPO is not able to reach the ‘digital’ generation

The NPO, Dutch Public Broadcaster, is not able to find its way to digitalized media platforms such as YouTube, the Volkskrant wrote earlier this year. To catch up with other media, for example the commercial Dutch broadcasters, the NPO presented a plan last august. The NPO has launched a new digital broadcasting canal called NPO Start and will promote and renew it regularly. According to the Volkskrant, the problem of the NPO is not that it is not digitalized, but that it is not digitalized in the right way that fits the goal it approaches. “The NPO wants to be where its viewers are”, and some viewers are now at YouTube.

The problem as proposed above is one that does not match one of the “key changes” of media as brought forward by Mierzejewska and Shaver (2014). According to them an “Audience and consumption fragmentation” is taking place. This means that consumers can get their media content from a variety of services. I want to argue that it is rather a centralization of consumption that is taking place. Consumers mainly go to one site, for example YouTube, and look to viral videos or their favourite channels.

The unfortunate attempt of the NPO to reach the audience by presenting their own renewed digital platform is an example of this. The ‘centralization’ of digital media consumption is a new change that is taking place because of the enormous amount of content that is spreading all over the internet. In trying to create some clarity in that chaos of content, consumers tend to get all their content from one ‘mega’ channel. Therefore, the NPO has to revise its tactic, but also Mierzejewska and Shaver have to look again at their ‘key changes’.

By: Hessel von Piekartz

Word count: 289

Bibliography:

Mierzejewska, B. and Shaver, D. (2014). Key Changes Impacting Media Management Research. International Journal on Media Management. 16:2 pp. 47-54.

“Share your info!” How media and audiences have become peers

How long can the resistance of journalists against the audience as a ‘produsing’ entity persist (Lewis, 850: 2016)? Journalists tend to seek and hold control on the covering of news, but according to Lewis there is a growing tension between the audience and the journalists as it comes to producing, shaping and gatekeeping of the news.

At first sight Lewis’ assertion seems to be right, journalists wouldn’t even exist without control of the news; a journalist without that power would almost seem like a contradictio in terminis. But I want to argue that this hasn’t to be the case. I believe journalists could maintain their legitimacy without direct control of the news.

Journalism as the direct coverage of news has already become participatory. Journalists actively ask the audience to participate. The coverage of the Spanish police violence in Catalonia was in participation with the audience. On the site of ‘The Guardian’, was written: ‘be a part: share your information’. There was also a link: ‘contribute with guardianwitness’.

In this case the media are still gatekeepers, so they are somehow still in control. But at the coverage of some big events are almost impossible for the media to compete with the audience and their social media. In that case media start liveblogs. Even though people can also see the news directly on twitter many people tend to follow such blogs. Also because media, especially quality newspapers, verify the news and also can provide context to the events.

I think that this role of the media is underexposed in the article of Lewis. I therefore think that we are at a ‘balance point’ and that there is also still a legitimation of the existence of media although some of their traditional tasks aren’t that clear cut anymore.

 

By: Hessel von Piekartz

 

Word count: 295

 

Bibliography:

Lewis, S.C. (2012). The Tension Between Professional Control and Open Participation. Information, Communication and Society.

How the media are deconstructing the faith in democracy

One of the clearest examples of active framing can be found in almost every contemporary coverage of a political campaign. In the coverage of the 2016 presidential elections there was little attention to policy differences between the candidates, for example; the most items at CNN were about the polls and the strategic manoeuvres and (personal) conflicts of Trump and Clinton.

Capturing the political campaigns as a ‘fight’ and drawing much attention to polls can be called a ‘game frame’ (Aalberg et al: 167). The focus on the strategies of candidates is called a ‘strategic frame’ (ibid). These are more generic frames; used for the coverage of different political events and issues (Schuck and Feinholdt: 2).

Different studies agree that the game framing and strategic framing of politics influences the public’s opinion about politics in the broadest sense (Capella and Jamieson: 71). It activates the cynicism of people. Cynicism then, is not a positive disposition in a democracy, a cynical public is not likely to vote rationally, or to even vote at all.

Chong and Druckman state that framing can be seen in a positive and a negative sense (120). It can be used to manipulate or deceive individuals or it can refer to a learning process; in which everyone is confronted with different beliefs (ibid.). But the kind of framing as described above does not fit in neither of those categories. It is a kind of framing that does not intend to influence people, and therefore it is maybe even more dangerous.

Why then, are these frames used by almost all media? Is it only because it sells? Or is it because it fits the impartiality criterion? This could be, because items about polls do not contain any clear normative dispositions.

 

by: Hessel von Piekartz

 

Word count: 292

 

Bibliography:

Aalberg, T, Strömbäck, J. and De Vreese, C.H. (2012). The framing of politics as strategy and game: A review of concepts, operationalizations and key findings. Journalism.

Capella, J.N. and Jamieson, K.H. (1996). News Frames, Political Cynicism, and Media Cynicism. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social science. 546. 71-84.

Chong, D. and Druckman, J. (2007). Framing Theory. Annual Review of Political Science. 10-1. 103-126.

Schuck, A.R.T. and Feinholdt, A. (2015). News Framing effects and emotions. Emerging trends in the social and behavorial sciences.

 

The Hidden Cultural News Bias

A few days ago, on the 17th of September, several media reported about the killing of a Netflix scout in Mexico. Carlos Munoz Portal, was looking for film location for the Netflix hit series ‘Narcos’ as he was shot several times. The news coverage of this event can be used as an illustration of some biases that are omnipresent in Western news coverage.

First of all the news of the killing of Portal fits into some hypotheses as put forward by Galtung and Ruge (1965). Mexico is in some way in cultural and also in absolute terms a distant country,  and can be seen as a ‘low ranked country’. Galtung and Ruge state that an event happened in these kind of nations has to be easy to capture to be newsworthy (idem: 81). The event also has to be negative and has to be consonant. This event, the single murder in a violent country of a person that shares cultural similarities with us (Netflix), meets these criterions (idem: 81-82).

This is especially interesting when taking a look at the actual drugs violence of everyday life in Mexico. Most of these events won’t become news in most Western nations. Only when something that we know or to which we are connected comes into contact with the events, the event is promoted as news.

To conclude I want to turn to the policy implications that Galtung and Ruge propose. Several implications can avert the news bias as shown in this post. Why is it then that, even the critical, Western media haven’t implicated these propositions? Is it only because of economic considerations of media or do our cultural background and our own cultural bias cause it?

 

Word count: 284

Bibliography:

Galtung, J. And Ruge, M.H. (1965). The Structure of Foreign News. Journal of Peace Research, Vol.2 No. 1 pp. 64-91.

Collins, P. (2017). Netflix Scout for Narcos TV Show Found Shot Dead in Mexico. In The Guardian.

The (political) Propaganda of Social Media Advertising

According to an article published in the New York Times, an anti-immigrant fake Facebook page, that was created and funded by a Kremlin tied company, was able to spread provocative messages for months. The Facebook page, called ‘secured borders’, is one of probably hundreds of Russian funded fake Facebook accounts. According to Facebook, the fake pages have promoted their messages for 100.000 dollar.

The Russian funded pages may have posted hundreds of Facebook posts in order to test what kind of content resonated the best with the audience. It is the Facebook algorithm that enables this strategy.  In effect, ‘Secured Borders’ attracted more than 133.000 followers.

In their article, Caplan and Boyd (2016) discuss social media as a sort of new public sphere with algorithmic systems as the new gatekeepers. I think that the ‘Secured Borders’ case begs two questions about those developments.

First, it is interesting to look at the advertising regulations on Facebook. Although the internet is replacing the old public media sphere of television and radio, sites as Facebook do not have to conform to the same advertising law. Do we need to reconsider this law?

Second, and last, the gatekeeper’s role of Facebook is inadequate. The Facebook algorithm enables that advertised messages, whether or not fake, can generate an audience. Even if the message is purged from the medium, it already has influenced the algorithm. Does this combination of algorithmic audience generation and advertising, need reconsideration?

Bibliography:

Caplan, R. & Boyd, D. (2016). Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms? Data & Society, p. 1 – 19.

Shane, S. (12th of September 2017). Purged Facebook Page Tied to the Kremlin Spread Anti-Immigrant Bile. The New York Times.