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Journalism

Factors in the Rise of Fake News

Up next at ANZCA 2017 is Sarah Baker, who again reminds us that the bending of the truth that 'fake news' alludes to is hardly new. Political propaganda has been used throughout the ages to mobilise the masses in favour of particular courses of action, but those masses have also become more adept at spotting such false stories. The latest tide of 'fake news' is again political, but also deeply connected with economic motives.

The Role of Affect in Engaging with 'Fake News'

The next presenters at ANZCA 2017 are David Nolan and Jennifer Beckett, who begin by highlighting the great moral panic about 'filter bubbles', supposedly caused by the fragmentation of media audiences. This perspective is not new, however: the dissolution of 'the' public sphere into public sphericules has been discussed since the 1990s, and this has also been seen as giving rise to new interest groups representing disadvantaged communities – so this diversification is not necessarily a negative trend.

The Long History of 'Fake News'

The final session at ANZCA 2017 is on 'fake news' and opens with a paper by with Margaret van Heekeren, who begins by highlighting the long history of false news through the ages, as well as of legislative attempts to curtail 'fake news' and mitigate its impacts. At the same time, since the late 1800s news publishers have also actively opposed such laws, regarding them as an inappropriate restriction of their ability to report the news.

Does ABC News Siphon Audiences from Fairfax?

Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood has been busy. His company’s announcement on 3 May 2017 that Fairfax would sack 125 of its newsroom staff led to Sydney Morning Herald and The Age journalists going on strike, at the worst possible time in the Australian political calendar.

Meanwhile, media reports highlighted Hywood’s annual pay of over $7 million – which at a median reported salary for journalists of just over $51,000 would comfortably pay for the total number of staff laid off in Hywood’s announcement.

This is not to say that Hywood does not deserve a CEO-level salary, of course. But in light of the criticism of the job losses at Fairfax, his defence of executive pay levels was tin-eared, to say the least:

We pride ourselves on providing above-market salaries. … We need good people to work at this business. You don’t fix the issues confronting the media business by doing the same thing again and again, and expecting a different result.

2016 Publications Round-Up

We’re already deep into February 2017, but I thought I’d finally put together an overview of what I’ve been up to during the past year, at least as far as research outputs are concerned. It’s been a busy year by any measure, with a number of key projects coming to completion; research publications from some of these are still in production, but here’s what’s already come out.

Evolving Attitudes to Paying for Online News

Finally for this session and for ECREA 2016, Richard Fletcher directs our attention to the question of paying for online news, drawing on a six-country study of online pay models. Such models have been a major concern in the industry for a long time, but have remained elusive; there are also few findings in the research that are consistent across different national media systems.

Social Media Guidelines in Norwegian News Organisations

The next speaker at ECREA 2016 is Karoline Ihlebæk, whose focus is on social media regulations in Norwegian news organisations. These are related to questions of trust, legitimacy, and changing professional ideals: journalistic adoption of social media has at first been unregulated, but news organisations are now increasingly seeking to regulate this to fend off any potential negative implications. This is also a question of power within these organisations. Such power need not always be negative and restrictive, however: it may also be supportive and empowering for journalists.

The (Social) Mediatisation of Journalism

I'm chairing the final session at ECREA 2016, and once more we're talking about the future of journalism. Ulrika Hedman is the first speaker, and she begins by highlighting the increasing amount of social media monitoring that is being done by the early adopters amongst professional journalists. Such journalists are beginning to combine news media logic and social media logic, and this makes their professional activities considerably more complex.

Talking Gatewatching and Journalism at ECREA 2016

Taking a quick break from liveblogging the paper sessions I've seen, I was asked to do a quick interview for the ECREA 2016 YouTube channel – and it's online already. So, here's a quick chat about the future of journalism, and a preview of the themes of my upcoming sequel to the Gatewatching book:

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