News. The lines between tech companies and a media companies are blurring. Media companies rely more and more on tech companies for distribution. Tech giants do like politicians and turn away from critical questions from traditional media, and secretive tech giants end up dictating a great part of what is reported on them. Accountable reporting is more than challenged.
Freebies are everywhere, when you are a tech journalist in a media company, but real access is scant, writes Adrienne Lafrance in a long interesting NiemanReports’ piece on the mega challenges facing journalistic production, which is not biased by any political or commercial influence.
Powerful companies like Facebook and Google have become major distributors of journalistic work, meaning newsrooms increasingly rely on tech giants to reach readers. Facebook, in particular, is also prompting major newsrooms to adjust their editorial and commercial strategies, including initiatives to broadcast live video to the social media site in exchange for payment. Other social platforms are becoming publishers, too, including Snapchat Discover and Reddit, which recently posted job listings for an editorial team.
Silicon Valley’s culture of secrecy comes from the publishing power the Internet offers. Tech giants, like political candidates, no longer rely solely on the press to get out their message. In turn, some of the world’s most powerful companies end up dictating a startling degree of coverage about them—because reporters often rely solely on information released by those companies, and, with some key exceptions, get few opportunities to question them.
Companies like Facebook and Google have the power to make or break a newsroom, according to the writer. And Facebook and Google, along with a handful of other leading tech companies, are also scooping up a huge portion of overall digital ad revenue—65 percent of it. When it comes to mobile ad sales Facebook already sits on 77 percent of it.
Don’t Rely on Tech for High-Quality Journalism
“Should we be regaining control of distribution?” the Tow Center’s Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School asks. “I think it will be regrettable if news organizations didn’t at least have an idea of how that might happen. There is a danger to just say, ‘Okay, this has been dismantled to the point where ad sales, technology, marketing, etcetera, can all be shrunk back to a really small portion of what we do, and we put faith in the idea that Google, Facebook, and whatever comes next will always make the distribution of high-quality journalism a priority.’ But it’s easy to see how those publishing skills may just disappear from publishing.”