Facebook & Google Are Killing Newspapers

The first newspapers were printed in the 17th century, and the methods of both their creation (movable type) and their distribution (on paper) remained broadly unchanged for three centuries.

When Marxism Today’s published its New Times issue in 1988, that system was unravelling. Computers had arrived and the print unions’ insistence on sharply delineated workplace roles was under threat.

This had already led to the Wapping dispute of 1986, in which Rupert Murdoch moved his newspapers to new headquarters to break the collective power of the printers. It took 13 months and 1,262 arrests, but it ended with thousands of men in effect accepting that their skills were obsolete.

That trend has merely continued.

Today’s journalism students are encouraged to become jacks of all trades, they learn how to make videos, record podcasts and use databases, they master Photoshop, they understand social media and, yes, they even write and edit stories.

On one level, the world of news now seems gloriously open: anyone can start a blog, anyone can publish on the Huffington Post (if you don’t mind not being paid) or Medium, and anyone can build a following on Twitter or Facebook. But there are new barriers to entry.

Local newspapers, once the training ground for young reporters, are dying out: there has been a net loss of 198 since 2005, according to the Press Gazette. Their classified adverts have gone online or gone altogether, and some of those titles that remain are consolidated into remote industrial parks, far from the communities they serve. So there is less reporting of court cases and of the petty corruption of councillors (Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs, which still covers that ground, is never short of material).

In place of independent papers are glossy PR puffs produced by councils. In December, the editor of the Hackney Citizen complained that the local authority was producing its own fortnightly freesheet, Hackney Today. The latter sells advertising space, making it a direct competitor to independent newspapers, and the council pays for 108,000 copies to be printed by Trinity Mirror and distributed to households every fortnight. It is produced by a press office.

National newspapers are also struggling. Print circulations are falling and the returns on display advertising online can be pitiful.

Most online adverts are “programmatic”: sold in real-time auctions on a CPM (cost per mille, or thousand clicks) basis. Users hate them for slowing page loads or interrupting their reading. Unsurprisingly, the use of ad-blocking software has risen steadily.

The industry has tried to fight back by expanding the types of adverts it sells. That is why everyone became so excited about video a few years ago: publishers could place an un-skippable advert before a video clip and charge pounds, not pennies, using CPM.

The Internet-only news organisation BuzzFeed had another strategy: from the start, it didn’t sell display advertising, only “native ads”: what used to be called advertorial.

The theory was that users might be irritated by display ads but they wouldn’t object to a pet-food brand sponsoring a heart-warming video about life with a pet. In at least one case, this paid off handsomely, BuzzFeed’s 2015 collaboration with Purina led to a video called Puppyhood, which racked up four million views in two weeks. The challenge is to repeat that winning formula again and again.

Other publishers tried the start-up mantra: build it, scale it fast, hope the revenues turn up at some point. Medium, a cleanly designed blogging platform, was launched by the Twitter co-founder Ev Williams in 2012 and attracted big-name publications and writers.

But on 4 January Williams announced that he was “renewing Medium’s focus” by cutting a third of its staff, because it was not financially sustainable. “It’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the Internet,” he wrote.

“The vast majority of articles, video and other ‘content’ we all consume on a daily basis is paid for, directly or indirectly, by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified and rewarded based on its ability to do that.”

If journalism is to survive, it needs either to cut costs (read: sack journalists), or build revenues. Hence the proliferation of sidelines: conferences, round-tables, business-to-business operations, events, sponsored supplements and the rest. Some companies are trying a more direct approach. The heavily loss-making Guardian is investing in a membership scheme, and the radical US magazine Mother Jones has a pledge to fund in-depth reporting. (Individual journalists are trying this, too: The Patreon website offers readers a chance to fund writers directly, at a set cost per month or per piece.)

Of course, someone is making money out of the great flowering of content on the web. Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly users, and in the third quarter of 2016 its net income was $2.38bn, up from $896m a year earlier. Along with Google, it controls two-thirds of the online advertising market.

“Facebook is the new town hall,” Mark Zuckerberg told investors. Unfortunately for him, that role in public life is what made Facebook the focus of the row about “fake news” after the US election. For millions of people, Facebook is where they get their news; its editorial decisions and inbuilt biases shape our common understanding of reality.

You might not have to get your words past the print unions any more, but you do have to pander to what Facebook’s and Google’s guiding algorithms deem important. Zuckerberg has more power than anyone who bought ink by the barrel ever did.

New Statesman

Hidden In Plain Site: Paedophiles Use Facebook Groups:

Facebook To Introduce Fake News Tools:

 

« Malvertising Targets Your Online Users
Google To Break Pirates Over Music Searches »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

The PC Support Group

The PC Support Group

A partnership with The PC Support Group delivers improved productivity, reduced costs and protects your business through exceptional IT, telecoms and cybersecurity services.

Syxsense

Syxsense

Syxsense brings together endpoint management and security for greater efficiency and collaboration between IT management and security teams.

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO is the market leader in HPE Non-Stop Security, Risk Management and Compliance.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

LockLizard

LockLizard

Locklizard provides PDF DRM software that protects PDF documents from unauthorized access and misuse. Share and sell documents securely - prevent document leakage, sharing and piracy.

Messageware

Messageware

Messageware is the market leader in securing, enhancing, and customizing Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Web App.

Apcon

Apcon

Apcon's mission is to provide valuable network insights that enable security and network professionals to monitor, secure and protect their data in both physical and virtual environments.

Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike is penetration testing software designed to execute targeted attacks.

inBay Technologies

inBay Technologies

inBay Technologies' idQ Trust as a Service (TaaS) is a unique and innovative SaaS that eliminates the need for user names and passwords.

VNT Software

VNT Software

VNT's vision is to change the way complex IT problems are resolved by predicting business disruptions before they occur.

Arcanum Information Security (AIS)

Arcanum Information Security (AIS)

Arcanum Information Security is a specialist Information Assurance Consultancy and a leading provider of Cyber Security services to UK Defence, UK Government, Enterprise businesses and SMEs.

Safetica

Safetica

Safetica Technologies is a Czech software company that delivers data protection solutions for businesses of all types and sizes.

Extreme Protocol Solutions (EPS)

Extreme Protocol Solutions (EPS)

Extreme Protocol Solutions is an industry leading Data Sanitization Software, Hardware and Onsite Service Provider.

Neudomains

Neudomains

Neudomains is a Corporate Domain Name Management and Brand Protection Online Specialist. One of the world's top providers of online brand protection and enforcement.

Adyta

Adyta

Adyta specializes in cybersecurity solutions adapted to the needs of sovereign institutions, business groups and other organizations that handle information and sensitive or classified data.

CHEQ

CHEQ

CHEQ provides fully autonomous, preemptive technology for brand safety and ad-fraud prevention.

Seigur

Seigur

Seigur is an IT consultancy business providing flexible legal and cyber security services for IT and data privacy programmes.

Ontinue

Ontinue

Ontinue ION is an MXDR service that provides Nonstop SecOps through five key capabilities that enable your organization to respond to attacks and continuously reduce risk.

Snare

Snare

Snare is a comprehensive set of event monitoring and analysis tools designed to address critical auditing and security requirements.

Project Cypher

Project Cypher

Project Cypher leverages the latest cybersecurity developments, a world class team of hackers and constant R&D to provide you with unparalleled cybersecurity offerings.

North Infosec Testing (North IT)

North Infosec Testing (North IT)

North IT (North Infosec Testing) are an award-winning provider of web, software, and application penetration testing.