The Big Issue


By Aoife White
16 February 2018
Facebook Inc. must stop tracking Belgian users’ surfing outside the social network and delete data it’s already gathered, or it will face fines of 250,000 ($312,000) euros a day, a Belgian court ruled.
Facebook “doesn’t sufficiently inform” clients about the data it gathers on their broader web use, nor does it explain what it does with the information or say how long it stores it, the Brussels Court of First Instance said in a statement.


By Nicky Woolf
15 February 2018
David Moore is having fun. The former director of the Participatory Politics Foundation, a nonprofit open-government group that operated — a site that tracked the revolving door between Congress and lobbying and became a leading resource for government transparency — is now part of a project with an ambitious goal: finding a way to save journalism.


By Andrew Guess, Benjamin Lyons, Brendan Nyhan & Jason Reifler
14 February 2018
With critics decrying the “echo chambers,” “filter bubbles,” and “information cocoons” created by the rise of online news and social media, you’d think that the entire American public was consuming a near-exclusive diet of politically pleasing news.
Voters do increasingly face an information glut that requires them to make choices about what news to consume. In these polarized times, it may therefore seem intuitive that people will overwhelmingly select into or be directed toward media and information flows that confirm their pre-existing biases, further reinforcing those views.


By Frederic Filloux
11 February 2018
French startup Storyzy spotted six hundred forty-four brands on questionable sites ranging from hard core fake news sites, hyper-partisan ones, to clickbait venues hosting bogus content with no particular agenda, except making a quick buck.


By Rachel Metz
10 February 2018
In the past, if you wanted to change the world, you had to pass a law or start a war. Now you create a hashtag. Ethan Zuckerman studies how people change the world, or attempt to, by using social media or other technological means. As director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, he tries to help his students make sense of these issues. Zuckerman is also writing a book about civic engagement during a time when we have a lot less trust in institutions—government, businesses, banks, and so on.


By Cory Haik
10 February 2018
Facebook ostensibly announced a major change to its News Feed algorithm via a push notification from the New York Times. A notification heard ‘round the media world, with news that was intended less for it than for the 2 billion-plus humans that spend time on the social media platform. Facebook was getting back to its roots, to its original mission of connecting friends and family. It wanted to create more “meaningful social interaction,” as opposed to, we can only assume, non-meaningful social interaction. Read: no more viral publisher (or brand) “space junk” — seemingly random, purposeless, churned-out content — floating in the Feed. If implemented as such, this should be celebrated, full stop.


9 February 2018
A key feature of one of the most popular social sites in China has returned after government pressure forced Weibo to close part of the site for a week.
In late January, the microblogging site shut down Hot Search, its trending topics section. The reason? State media said Weibo failed to censor content that contradicts with Communist Party values, including vulgar and pornographic materials.
9 February 2018
It only took 12 years, but Twitter has finally turned a quarterly profit.
The social network reported its fourth-quarter earnings today, Feb. 8, and as expected, the company posted a modest profit, pulling in $91 million on $732 million in revenue. That’s a jump of 2% on the revenue it posted in the same period last year. It attributed the small rise to increased advertising revenue, stemming from the myriad updates it made to its product over the last year, as well as video ad sales. (Annual revenue for the company was slightly down in 2017, however—it generated $2.4 billion, versus $2.5 billion in 2016.)


By Suchit Leesa-Nguansuk
6 February 2018
Thailand is the world leader for time spent on the internet and mobile internet per day, a consequence of higher social media use and the popularity of online video consumption. Thailand ranks in the top 10 for mobile social media penetration and top four for time spent on social media, according to social media management platform Hootsuite and global agency We Are Social.


By Penseur Robinson
1 February 2018
Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “The Post” tells an interesting, but well-worn historical tale. It doesn’t dig new dirt, plow new ground, or tell us anything those of us old enough to remember didn’t already know.


By Jeffrey M. Jones and Zacc Ritter
30 January 2018
As the information available to news consumers has expanded greatly in recent decades, Americans believe the media landscape is becoming harder to navigate. They say the increase in the information available today makes it harder (58%), rather than easier (38%), to be well-informed because people have to sort through lots of information to determine what is true or important.


By Mike McCue
27 January 2018
As election day 2016 approached in the United States, thousands of specifically targeted Americans began seeing racially, politically and religiously charged ads on Facebook with headlines like “Don’t Mess With Texas Border Patrol” and “Satan: If I Win, Clinton Wins!”. The ads spanned the spectrum of divisive American issues. Some promoted far-right positions while others were radically liberal.


By Howard Amos
24 January 2018
After she was fired as editor-in-chief of Russia’s highly respected media outlet RBC for critical reporting, Elizaveta Osetinskaya left her country and headed to the US. Now she’s founded The Bell, a six-person media start-up fighting for space in Russia’s troubled world of independent media. The Calvert Journal caught up with Osetinskaya to talk about The Bell, state control, and the future of journalism. Howard Amos reports


22 January 2018
Whether it’s combatting misinformation, being strategic in the use of our limited resources, restoring audience trust or tackling the complicated stories our audiences need us to cover, collaboration between newsrooms is no longer a luxury reserved for special projects, it’s a daily necessity. Heather Bryant is a guest writer of the Monday Note.


By Lydia Polgreen
18 January 2018
We live in a cacophonous world. Thousands of voices shout for our attention from our social media timelines and TV screens. It’s hard to know what deserves our focus and what to tune out. At HuffPost, we believe it’s our job to bring you, our audience, the most thoughtful, diverse and provocative points of view from across the globe. So today we are launching two new sections: Opinion and Personal. Read the HuffPost article


17 January 2018
Public trust in the media is at an all-time low. Results from a major new Knight-Gallup report can help us understand why.
As the debates over trust in media, misinformation and control over information rage, a new Knight-Gallup survey of more than 19,000 U.S. adults shows that Americans believe that the media have an important role to play in our democracy — yet they don’t see that role being fulfilled.


By Caroline Scott
17 January 2018
Community journalism, the local news coverage typically focused on neighborhoods, suburbs and small towns, helps to address gaps in the mainstream media, providing increased diversity, greater depth and context to reporting in any particular area. With the advancement of technologies such as virtual reality (VR), live-streaming capabilities, 8K video footage and 5G internet, it's never been easier for local news organizations to get eyeballs on stories outside of the mainstream, national news agenda. Read the story in Journalism


By Frederic Filloux
16 January 2018
For Facebook, journalism has been a pain in the neck from day one. Now, bogged down with the insoluble problems of fake news and bad PR, it’s clear that Facebook will gradually pull the plug on news. Publishers should stop whining and move on.
Let’s admit that publishers have been screwed by Facebook. Not because Mark Zuckerberg is evil, but because he’s a pragmatist. His latest move should not come as a surprise. On Thursday, for the second time in six months, Facebook stated publicly that news (i.e., journalism) will appear further down in everyone’s newsfeed, in order to favor posts from friends, family and “groups.” Read the article on Medium.


Facebook Demotes the News : What It Means for News Orgs
By Matt McAlister
12 January 2018
Facebook announced a considerable change to their news feed that will profoundly affect professional media. We don’t yet know how dramatic the numbers will drop, but there are some indicators that could help us understand what’s going to happen.
While Facebook’s decision to demote news in the feed may feel sudden and drastic there have been signals for some time that things were going to change. Kaleida data has been showing a steady decline in news engagements for several months. See the article


Facebook’s Changes
By Jeff Jarvis
13 January 2018
So, here’s what’s on my mind about Facebook’s changes, just announced by Mark Zuckerberg, to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people” over content from media and brands. Read Jarvis’ take


Facebook’s Newsfeed Changes: A Disaster or an Opportunity for News Publishers?
By Charlie Beckett
13 January 2018
Social media and digital executives in newsrooms already have a tough job connecting their content to consumers via social media, but Facebook’s proposed changes in the algorithms of its ‘newsfeed’ are going to make it a lot harder. Social networks offer immense opportunities for reaching vast new audiences and increasing the engagement of users with journalism. The most important platform in the world is about to make that more difficult. See the article
By Aaron Edell
14 January 2018
We made a fake news detector with above a 95% accuracy on (a validation set) that uses machine learning and Natural Language Processing that you can download here. In the real world, the accuracy might be lower, especially as time goes on and the way articles are written changes.
With so many advances in Natural Language Processing and machine learning, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make a model that could flag news content as fake, and perhaps take a bite out of the devastating consequences of the proliferation of fake news. See Edell’s story on Medium.


How WeChat Became the Primary News Source in China

By Mia Shuang Li
12 January 2018
Flourishing social media platforms like WeChat are changing journalism in China. In place of legacy media companies, independent influencers called Key Opinion Leaders, or KOLs, are attracting both attention and money. See the article in CJR.
How Morocco Has Weakened Its Press, Pushing Readers to Social Media for News
By Jackie Spinner
9 January 2018
For David Alvarado, a Spanish journalist who has been covering North Africa for more than a decade, the real indication of how free journalists are to report in Morocco is which government ministry is watching most closely. See more in PulitzerCenter


Kazakhstan Tightens Squeeze on Media
4 January 2018
Astana reinforces its status as a no-go area for independent media, while ostensibly more open Kyrgyzstan cracks down on opposition TV station. See more in TOL


The Algorithms Aren’t Biased, We Are
5 January 2018
Excited about using AI to improve your organization’s operations? Curious about the promise of insights and predictions from computer models? I want to warn you about bias and how it can appear in those types of projects, share some illustrative examples, and translate the latest academic research on “algorithmic bias.”


9 December 2017
An Outline investigation found that contributors to prominent publications have taken payments in exchange for positive coverage. See The Outline
Why the New York Times Is in the Hot Seat So Often
3 January 2018
When most newspapers get a new publisher, few people know or care. It gets a shrug, except by those directly affected. But when Arthur G. Sulzberger took over this week as the top boss at the New York Times, even President Trump took notice, blurting out a tweet that managed to be simultaneously insulting, congratulatory and divisive. (“The Failing New York Times has a new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Congratulations! Here is a last chance for the Times to fulfill the vision of its Founder, Adolph Ochs, ‘to give the news impartially, without fear or FAVOR, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.’ ”)
Thai Broadcasters to Return TV Licenses
22 December 2017
By Wasamon Audjarint
In another bid to achieve media reform, media professionals have called for a legal change to allow television broadcasters to return some of their owned frequencies to regulators. This would not only solve the ongoing oversupply crisis but also help to promote qualified broadcasters in their ongoing efforts at self-regulation, they claimed.
The number of broadcasters has dramatically increased following the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)’s auction of digital television frequencies n 2013. But the “gold rush” soon faded as the increase of TV channels without an increase in the consumption rate meant many broadcasters could not make ends meet.


Why Paywalls Don’t Work
20 December 2017
By Rob Howard
Congratulations! You’ve read too much. Please pull out your credit card.
And so goes the frustrating, backward logic of the journalism paywall. It’s the most popular income idea to arise since the newspaper industry was flooded with low-budget competitors, and it seems like the last best hope for profits as Google and Facebook strangle independent advertising sales.


Older Big Issues


Myanmar’s Media Development Has Stalled
14 December 2017
By Kavi Chongkittavorn
The atmosphere surrounding the development of liberal media in Myanmar, which began in earnest and has been carefully nurtured since 2012, is in a serious state of amnesia. This sentiment is widely felt and shared throughout the media community in the country.
The National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government has not yet harnessed the vibrant media environment and journalists' goodwill and enthusiasm for the country's benefit. Myanmar's journalists are suffering from acute anxiety about not knowing what their future holds.


Net Neutrality: The Reality
12 December 2017
By E Price
On December 14, the FCC will vote to change the net as we know it. But has the open internet already been destroyed?
On December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on whether to remove Net Neutrality rules installed during the Obama administration. This vote, spearheaded by FCC chairman and Trump appointee Ajit Pai, will pass.
Don’t get me wrong; like every other responsible person I have been calling the FCC, sending furious emails to the commissioners, grinding my teeth, and weeping over my decades-old DeviantArt account in preparation for this vote. But. It’s gonna pass.


Google of South Korea to Save Struggling News Outlets?
7 December 2017
By Ariel Bogle 
The nation’s dominant search engine has a model for benefiting local publications—but many are worried about its implications.
Also like Google and Facebook, Naver has a tense relationship with journalists. Though the company produces no journalism itself, Naver’s desktop and mobile news portal is South Korea’s most popular news site. (The second is another local portal, Daum.) Naver hosts stories by various outlets, somewhat similar to news-aggregation apps like Apple News. In a country where around 83% of the population accesses news online, the company has outsize control over what Koreans read and see.


How the New Ownership at LA Weekly Played Itself
6 December 2017
Semanal Media bought the beloved paper and gutted it from the inside. For what?
Semanal Media, the mysterious new owner of LA Weekly, took the reins of the paper from Voice Media Group. In the span of a few hours, Semanal fired 75 percent of its full-time editorial staff, including all five editors, the publisher, two staff news writers, the film critic, and the head of sales. Only one staff writer, an art director, and a copy chief remain.
Former editor-in-chief Mara Shalhoup compared the cuts to the Red Wedding, the particularly brutal slaughter scene in Game of Thrones. Only a shell was left of the newspaper staff that had existed the day prior.


The Big Picture: Misinformation Society
3 December 2017
By Victor Pickard    
Trump’s election laid bare structural flaws in our news and information systems. As mainstream news media sensationalized and trivialized what was at stake in the elections, social media amplified misinformation and propaganda. These media pathologies paved the way for the triumph of a demagogue. While criticism of such problems has escalated since the election, the underlying policies that enabled them have largely escaped scrutiny.
Facebook Has Paid Millions to French Media Companies
1 December 2017
By Nicolas Becquet
Facebook has won. French media organisations are now indeed addicts. They are, in fact, triply addicted – to expanding their audience for free, to using the social network’s production and distribution tools, and to earning additional revenue. Facebook’s publishing ecosystem has become something the media can’t do without.


How to Survive the Media Apocalypse: Pivot to Readers
30 November 2017
By Derek Thompson
Agony is the natural state of the news industry. Newspaper sales per capita peaked before color television was a thing, and magazines have been in decline since the Clinton administration. When it comes to the finances of the Fourth Estate, bad news is, generally speaking, the news.


SABC Seeks to Alter Rules on Pay-TV Stations
23 November 2017
By Bezekela Phakathi
The SABC has asked the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to conduct an urgent public review of regulations that allow pay-TV operators to carry its television channels for free.
Passed in 2008, the so-called “must carry” regulations oblige all subscription broadcasters with more than 30 channels to transmit the SABC’s three free-to-air television channels.


First Local Podcast in Myanmar
22 November 2017
By Joshua Carroll Splice
When journalists approached people on the streets of Yangon last month to get their views for a new human rights podcast, they typically got two responses: “What’s a podcast?” was one. “What are human rights?” was the other.
The three-person team behind Doh Athan, or Our Voice, face an unusual challenge as they launch in a country that has been deprived of both internet access and independent media for decades: their key concept is poorly understood and few are familiar with the platform they’ve chosen.
Why Mashable Flamed Out
21 November 2017
Few images better capture the unfettered optimism and indignity of digital media than 2014 at South by Southwest, where a line of hoodie-wearing attendees snaked around the block at Mashable House, a pop-up lounge run by the tech news site, to get their picture taken with Grumpy Cat. Nearby, AOL “digital prophet” Shingy swung on a Mashable-branded wrecking ball.


How the ‘Paradise Papers’ Set the Bar Even Higher for Global Collaboration
17 November 2017
It’s been only been a year and a half since the Panama Papers set a new bar for what collaboration between newsrooms could achieve. This entailed an unrivaled data leak, hundreds of journalists and a reporting project that highlighted the modern reality journalists now frequently work in: big leaks, big data, big stories.
FCC Relaxes Media Ownership Rules
20 November 2017
Broadcasters will be allowed to combine with a newspaper in the same market, and could be allowed to own two of the top four stations in a city, as the FCC on Thursday relaxed a series of long-standing media ownership regulations.
The new rules, passed in a 3-2 vote, may be challenged in court, but if they survive, they will mark the most significant changes to media ownership regulations in a generation. They could lead to further consolidation and mergers among broadcasters, who have long argued that they need greater scale to compete with cable and internet companies for local ad dollars.


Crunch Time for Digital News Brands?
19 November 2017
We used to speculate about when the next newspaper might close, now we watch as digital native newsrooms teeter on the brink. How bad is it out there for news brands trying to make a living, let alone a profit?


The Decline of Digital Media Darlings Has Begun
17 November 2017
The rapid growth of Google and Facebook continues to take its toll on digital media companies. Thursday was a rough day for digital media. Within hours, a series of reports, some unofficial and others confirmed, underscored a bitter reality that’s become increasingly harder to avoid: Not even the biggest digital media startups are immune from the seismic shifts in digital advertising affecting the whole industry.


Somaliland Blocking Social Media to Stave Off “Fake News”
11 November 2017
Somaliland, the self-declared republic in northwestern Somalia, has announced it will restrict access to social media sites during its upcoming presidential elections.
The electoral commission has asked phone companies to block more than a dozen social media outlets in order to limit hate speech and “fake news”. It includes Facebook, Twitter,WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Duo, Google Plus, among others.


When Fake News Will Be Made by Pros
13 November 2017
A funny game. A scary conclusion: today’s social tools, put in capable hands, make false information very hard to detect and extraordinarily damaging.
Eight Strategies for Saving Local Newsrooms
6 November 2017
By Christopher Ali and Damian Radcliffe
Since 2000, nearly half of newsroom jobs—more than 20,000 of them—have disappeared. Revenues have plummeted by almost $20 billion. Titles continue to be shuttered, and layoffs are a regular occurrence.
In telling the story of the changing fortunes of the newspaper industry, the focus has been on large metro and national newspapers. Less attention is given to the small-market newspapers, with a weekly or daily print circulation of under 50,000.


Is Facebook Flagging Fake News, or Just Filtering It?
1 November 2017
After getting ahold of a letter from a Facebook executive, Buzzfeed revealed that flagged content on Facebook see an 80% reduction in impressions.
This headline was repeated by the Washington Post and ABC News, though they both emphasised the slow process for applying flags to false stories. Jason White, the Facebook executive, acknowledged that the days-long delay was a major issue, and that Facebook was committed to improving it.


The Winners and Losers of the EU’s New ePrivacy Law
31 October 2017
The European Union’s new ePrivacy regulation is becoming a nightmare for the digital media and advertising industries.
It’s easy to confuse the ePrivacy regulation with the General Data Protection Regulation, a broader law addressing consumer data privacy that has dominated the market’s attention lately. The core difference is that cookie use is central to the ePrivacy regulation, which is why it’s known as the “cookie law.” Businesses in Europe must get explicit consent to use cookies and provide clear opt-outs to users under the proposed new law. Meanwhile, the GDPR regulates the general handling of personal data. Read more on DigiDay


Election Spurs Fact-Checking Collaborations in Japan
30 October 2017
By Masato Kajimoto
“We looked at First Draft News’ guide and realized in Japan, we have very little understanding of where false information originates or how it spreads.”
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the parliament and called a national election in late September, Japan’s newest fact-checking initiatives saw an opportunity to test the waters. NiemenLab reports.


The Internet Giants Should Demand Regulation, Not Duck It
30 October 2017
By John Battle
The tech industry can’t go it alone. Pretending otherwise only makes the problem worse. As Sheryl Sandberg would say: Lean In.
When books are written about the role played by technology companies in our national dialog, the events about to unfold in Washington this week will likely play a starring role. For the past month, communications, policy, and legal executives at Twitter, Facebook and Google have been prepping for this week’s testimony, where each company will be asked by a wary Congress what role it’s played in the corruption of our political system. If it goes well, there won’t be a second act. If it goes poorly, an entire nation could well turn against its own Internet darlings.
Murdoch and Agenda Power: Worse Than We Thought
26 October 2017
Damning new research suggests the agenda influence of the Murdochs is more extensive than previously thought.. And it would be greatly enhanced were the takeover of Sky to go ahead.
In our submission to the Competition and Markets Authority this week, we have presented interim findings showing that News UK brands (Times, Sunday Times and Sun) play a lead role in shaping the wider news agenda. Examining over a hundred news stories covering UK political, economic and social issues, the research found that the Times and Sunday Times were especially influential, despite operating an online pay-wall.
Civil: Blockchain-Based Journalism Marketplace
25 October 2017
If you’re still confused by Civil, the cryptocurrency-based journalism marketplace that went public this summer, you’re probably not alone. Since the company made its first appearance, reactions have included muted excitement, bewilderment, and outright dismissal about the company’s potential to provide a viable new funding model for journalism. (“What B.S.,” shrugged the sole commenter on our initial story about the company).


Facebook: Clarifying Recent Tests
23 October 2017
By Adam Mosseri
There have been a number of reports about a test we’re running in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. Some have interpreted this test as a future product we plan to deliver globally. We currently have no plans to roll this test out further.
We always listen to our community about ways we might improve News Feed. People tell us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family. We are testing having one dedicated space for people to keep up with their friends and family, and another separate space, called Explore, with posts from pages.
Management of Romanian Public TV Sacked
27 September 2017
The Romanian parliament today rejected the annual report of the country’s public service TV station TVR. That triggered the sacking of the entire Council of Administration (CA), the broadcaster’s main governance structure. Thus, Irina Radu (pictured), the institution’s president was fired as well.
She was replaced by Doina Gradea, who is now the acting president of TVR. Ms Gradea started her career back in 1992 at the news agency Mediafax. She later worked for the news channel Canal 31 and for the entrepreneur Adrian Sarbu, the founder of the private broadcast group MediaPro. Ms Gradea started to work with TVR in January 2016.
Emotionally Networked Journalism: Regaining Trust, Rebuilding Truth?
18 September 2017
By Charlie Beckett
How news is turning emotional and how journalists should respond
In the wake of the success of various ‘populist’ political campaigns such as Brexit and Trump, there has been a moral panic amongst mainstream news media. A rise in ‘Fake News’, propaganda and hyper-partisan publishing online has compounded the sense of a disruption of political journalism. This has fed into concerns about effects of a range of structural shifts in mediated deliberation, especially online.
Hungarian Oligarchs Expand Media Investments in Slovenia
15 September 2017
Slovenia’s small media market, which is highly concentrated in its TV segment and has repelled rather than attracted foreign investment in the past decade, has recently experienced two seemingly strategic investments by Hungarian and US companies. These are potentially motivated by political and geopolitical interests, SEENPM reported.
The Rise of Sinclair Broadcast Group
7 September 2017
Sinclair Broadcast Group, founded in 1971 by Julian Sinclair Smith, is the largest owner of television stations in the entire country. The Maryland-based media company controls 173 local stations in nearly 80 markets, which means it reaches just under 40 percent of the population — and is continuing to increase its range. Just yesterday, they closed on an acquisition of Bonten Media Group, adding fourteen more stations in eight markets.
Privacy is Now a Right in India
1 September 2017
India's top court has put tech companies on notice. In a ruling that privacy is a fundamental right, the country's Supreme Court singled out tech firms for gathering huge amounts of data: Facebook knows who we are friends with, the justices wrote, while Alibaba studies our shopping habits and Airbnb tracks our travel. "This can have a stultifying effect on the expression of dissent and difference of opinion, which no democracy can afford," the court said last week. "There is an unprecedented need for regulation regarding [how] such information can be stored, processed and used.”
Duterte Eyes Lopez Companies
28 August 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would go after Benpres Holdings Corp., now known as Lopez Holdings Corp., and six other companies that have debts with state-run Development Bank of the Philippines.
“I’ll go after itong mga elite,” Duterte said in a speech during the 23rd anniversary celebration of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in Taguig City.
For more stories on media and power check Mediapowermonitor Unsifted archives