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  • Steven Wilson-Beales

Friday #content reads 24.3.2017

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite articles from the week:

Chris Sutcliffe wrote an interesting piece looking at how the economics driving  journalism influences editorial quality:

“From an outsider’s perspective, it looks as though the UK news media didn’t have a problem with ‘fake news’ until they lost their monopoly on it. They benefited from the system that rewards the creation of heavily partisan, shareable articles by feeding the confirmation bias of their audiences. That was the case before the internet started disrupting their business models, too, but now less truthful news who don’t even pay lip service to truth had proved themselves to be just as adept at abusing that digital advertising paradigm.”


Laura Hazard Owen looked at how the shareability of an article often determines its ‘truthiness’:

“They found that a trusted sharer resulted in more trust for the article and more engagement with the original news — including re-sharing the article and signing up for news alerts from the source. Furthermore, the sharer of the article affected how people thought about multiple facets of the article: “When people see news from a person they trust, they are more likely to think it got the facts right, contains diverse points of view, and is well reported than if the same article is shared by someone they are skeptical of.”

I really enjoyed reading Pandora Skykes analysis ‘How Fake News Is Affecting Generation Z‘.

“Perhaps the most potent physical realisation of both the dismissal and murkiness of truth amongst teenagers, is the augmented image: fake news is not just about politics; it’s about bodies. The concept of fake news, leads to fake lives and fake bodies; an emphasis, at its heart, on the surface value. Anna, 16, is studying for her GCSEs. “You can tell when people have used an airbrush app. There is a girl at school who posts pictures of herself in a bikini and we all talk about how different she looks at school. People know it’s fake.” Doesn’t that matter? When I was a teenager being ‘fake’ was worst thing of all. Anna shrugs. “I heard of a girl that posted a photo of her diving off a rock and it didn’t look like her and some of the other girls looked it up and it was a picture on Google images – she had literally searched for, ‘girl jumping off a rock.’” Ouch. Poor girl. “There were loads of photos of her on holiday – but all from a distance. She was actually on holiday somewhere else.” Jane – we’ll call her Jane – had decided that her holiday was not good enough. So she hacked herself a new one. “She was really young at the time” says Anna. “12, or 13. She wouldn’t do it now.” But everyone remembers her fake news-ing her holiday. Three years on, Jane has become best known to the other year groups, as the girl who posted fake pictures, of a fake holiday.”

There was also an interesting post by Lucia Moses who explains why Google has a better relationship with publishers than Facebook. She writes:

“Much of this stems from a simple fact: Google has a different business model than Facebook. Google’s business revolves around search advertising, which means sending users away from Google. Facebook, other other hand, operated a proprietary, closed network that is dependent on keeping people on its site or app in order to show them ads.

What’s more, Google is further down the road of maturity than Facebook. It bought DoubleClick a decade ago. And with DoubleClick came Dart for Publishers, the critical infrastructure used by most publishers in managing their advertising.”

“To evaluate a publisher’s quality, a look at its relative size and history — journalism prizes, years of operation — already provides useful information as explained below:

I think we’ve already seen a shift away from scale towards engagement across the industry, if we can now work out how to monetise quality effectively then we may have finally squared the circle.

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