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High Risk Diets Affect Reality Acceptance
News publishers no longer have ink in their veins. Thatís been replaced with a concoction of algorithms and virtual reality heavily salted with fake news. Arteries clogged by the high-fat comfort food of advertising are being cleansed by a regimen of members, followers, supporters and benefactors. The refreshed heart embraces risk, antidote for every evil.
Predictions are like a box of chocolates; so enticing that sugar buzz, too many makes the head spin. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and the University of Oxford recently published a prophesy digest from nearly 200 news professionals gathered late last year, the annual Digital News Report. It was written, elegantly, by media researcher Nic Newman.
Revealed, quite bluntly, are news publishers’ anxieties, some new and some not, and resultant self-blame. There’s no couch big enough. “Platforms” are the biggest stress producers. Facebook gave but now takes away, in every way. Google still doesn’t send enough money to news publishers but its Digital News Initiative has been a decent analgesic. Other “platforms” are just annoying.
“It is clear that many publishers still feel that platform companies need to do much more to face up to their wider responsibilities,” said the report. “Advertisers are demanding greater transparency over measurement and for more protection for their brands. Politicians, regulators, and ordinary users will be adding to that pressure too. Something significant is likely to give in 2018.”
More than one-third (36%) of the news publishers surveyed for the report cite “internal factors,” from skills and training to attitudes toward risk and change, as their biggest anxiety, slightly less than “the platforms” at 44%. For a patient exhibiting anxiety-induced symptoms - self-blame - the good doctor will often counsel strategies for taking back control. “Ironically publishers know that in many ways they need to behave more like Silicon Valley tech companies, even as they try to wrest back a measure of control around distribution and strategy,” said the report.
The news publishers are, though, willing to embrace a change in business model. Their customer is no longer a media buyer bot crunching endless data streams in search of the lowest cost per thousand (CPM). The customer is an individual willing, in some way, to financially engage and provide even more useful data. Perhaps it’s the Amazon model. Rupert Murdoch has been saying that since sometime in the last century, telephone companies long before that.
Other observations from the Reuters Institute report are equally chilling. News publishers seem aware of a relationship between fake news and trust but cannot see a role in solving the problem. Blame Facebook: “In the last year it has become clear that what was good for Silicon Valley was not necessarily good for America or the rest of the world and that narrative is likely to gather strength as pressures build around issues such as job displacement from automation and whether tech companies pay enough tax,” said the report.
While news publishers are wary of any intervention into their content domain, whether legislative or algorithmic, fact-checking has come of age and may well be a competitive advantage. “Alternative fact checking” by fake news providers has arrived. “Expect more rows over who is ‘allowed’ to be a fact-checker and the first ejection from the approved list for breaching agreed rules.”
The RISJ/Oxford report explores the future from the perspective of those standing in the present. Predictions do that. So do movies. “In the years to come we’ll no longer be just asking what is true, but whether information is even being generated by a human,” it said in conclusion. “Bots and intelligent agents will play an increasing role in our lives. News stories will be written by machines, television schedules will be assembled and selected based on our personal tastes, cars will drive themselves.”
See the full Reuters Institute 2018 Digital News Report here:
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