Diversity in the digital age

How the digital media age is changing; who controls own news and where it is coming from?

(Featured Image: AP/Josh Reynolds)

How does media ownership concentration affect the way we get our news? Will new online landscapes end up facing these same ownership issues? As we move into the new digital age, a new media landscape is developing; creating opportunities and potential for diversity in the Australian media industry. This is due to a decreasing concentration of media ownership and an increase in differing media platforms.

Government-owned media such as the ABC aim to provide journalism grounded in objectivity. In contrast, privately owned media corporations such as Fairfax and News Corp generally feature opinion based articles, often propagating bias towards the key stakeholder’s views.

‘Brexit’ coverage, BBC vs. the Daily Mail.

However,  journalism that is targeted towards pleasing stakeholders becomes particularly problematic when the same agenda is pushed across multiple platforms of mainstream publications. For example, in Australia News Corp and Fairfax dominate the ownership of media publications. The problem with this is that this doesn’t leave much room for coverage from a differing perspective.

‘Reach over 7 million Australians every day’ 

News Corp’s online home page

The Future of print, radio and televised networks is uncertain due to the rise of social media. Recent studies suggest that ‘more than 90% of consumers access the internet at least once a day and 61% use a smartphone or tablet to access online news’ (Fisher C. and Watkins J. 2016). Furthermore, ‘over half of Australians (52%) reported using online and social media as a source of news’ (Fisher C. and Watkins J. 2016)

Daily Mail Australia and the Guardian Australia, two UK owned entities are two examples of the market stepping up their online campaigns in recent years. The Guardian Australia increased its unique audience from 888 000 in 2012 to 2 685 000 in 2017 (Nielsen Digital Ratings, 2017). This increase of over 200% has led them to overtake media competitors such as The Australian and Yahoo news, who have failed to fully capitalise on social media and online trends. The Guardian and Daily Mail aren’t the only media outlets to successfully infiltrate Australia’s shores; online-centric outlets such as Vice, Buzz Feed and The Huffington Post have invested heavily into the new online industry.

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(Nielsen Digital Ratings 2017)

Although new players in the Australian media market have generated large followings in recent time, Fairfax Media and News Corp continue to hold significant proportions of the online media market. Their two biggest online news outlets, news.com.au (News Corp) and smh.com.au (Fairfax) have almost 10 Million unique viewers between them (Nielsen Digital Ratings 2017).

Therefore, although the Australian media heavyweights will undoubtingly look towards expanding their online audiences over the coming years. The nature of the online world and the success of smaller media competitors in recent years suggests Australians will have access to a vibrant and diverse range of media, unlike anything we have ever had access to before. Whether or not this unregulated media machine will provide accurate and unbiased information is another question altogether.

 

 

Bibliography

APO, (2016). Viewed 30 Mar. 2017 <http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/media-reform-overview_0.pdf>

APH (2016). Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016 – Parliament of Australia. Viewed 30 Mar. 2017 <http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1516a/16bd111#_ftn35>

 Fisher, C. and Watkins, J. (2016). Australia. Digital News Report. Viewed 30 Mar. 2017 <http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2016/australia-2016/>

Fake news and articles you’re sure to agree with

The 21st century has given birth to a new relationship between the media and its audience. A new reality where the audience has become a crucial part of the new age media machine, becoming both a user and producer of content,a “produser” ,able to both produce and distribute information with relative ease on social media […]

The era of fake news and social media has presented itself as a challenging new world for journalism whereby articles are targeted towards a specific audience, sometimes even resulting in purposely misleading publications. Furthermore, the ease of publication and distribution of information has consequently resulted in anyone with an internet connection becoming a potential distributor of news.

Featured Image:  (Madalina 2013)

‘If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.’

(Barack Obama 2016)

Now what we share, like, retweet and interact with on social media has become a statement of who we are and where belong in the political spectrum. This online profile is used by social media sites to create an online experience designed for maximum interaction between the user and the platform.

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(MIC Gadget, 2011)

Facebook’s news feed values highlight this, stating that their platform targets the information that you’re most likely to engage with in a positive manner with a bias towards the updates of your closest friends and family. This is not inherently a bad thing. However, if you do not have a diverse group of friends and family, with vastly differing political and moral views, you may be unconsciously forming a political bubble and feeding a confirmation bias on views you already agree with.

‘Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to – starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.’

(Facebook news feed values)  

While the recent Stanford study on Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election, in summary, concluded: ‘social media was not the most important source of election news, and even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017).’

nintchdbpict0002830135911The findings also showed that “of the known false news stories that appeared in the three months before the election, those favouring Trump were shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook, while those favouring Clinton were shared eight million times. (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017) While, some might regard these figures as small, in narrow elections these numbers could have the chance to make or break an election campaign.

(Daily Headlines, 2016)

Recent evidence from the Pew Research Center suggests that ’62 percent of U.S. adults get news on social media’ (Gottfried and Shearer 2016). There is no doubt that social media is becoming a common source for up to date news and information on world events. 

’62 percent of U.S. adults get news on social media’

Pew Research Center (Gottfried and Shearer 2016)

Therefore, with the prevalence of fake news and biases created for our own comfort, it is essential for organisations such as Facebook to ensure it monitors these potential concerns over the coming years. However, the individual user also needs to raise the question of what and where they are receiving their information from.

Meanwhile, you can check out Politecho plugin for an insight into your own social network bubble to see how your family and friends influence what you see and interact with on Facebook.

 

 

Bibliography

Allcott, H. and Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election.Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf>

Daily Headlines. (2016). Did The Pope Shock The World By Endorsing Donald Trump For President. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <http://dailyheadlines.net/2016/10/did-the-pope-shock-the-world-by-endorsing-donald-trump-for-president/>

Facebook News Feed. News Feed Values. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <https://newsfeed.fb.com/values/>