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Australia passes law to make Google and Facebook pay media companies for news content – Financial Post

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Australia will be the first country where a government arbitrator will decide the price to be paid by the tech giants if commercial negotiations with local news outlets fail

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CANBERRA — The Australian parliament on Thursday passed a new law designed to force Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for content used on their platforms in reforms that could be replicated in other countries.

Australia will be the first country where a government arbitrator will decide the price to be paid by the tech giants if commercial negotiations with local news outlets fail.

The legislation was watered down, however, at the last minute after a standoff between the government and Facebook culminated in the social media company blocking all news for Australian users.

Subsequent amendments to the bill included giving the government the discretion to release Facebook or Google from the arbitration process if they prove they have made a “significant contribution” to the Australian news industry.

Some lawmakers and publishers have warned that could unfairly leave smaller media companies out in the cold, but both the government and Facebook have claimed the revised legislation as a win.

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“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public-interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement on Thursday.

  1. None

    Facebook agrees to restore news content in Australia, strikes first commercial deal with publisher

  2. Facebook has turned off pages from media outlets in Australia.

    Diane Francis: By unfriending Australia, Facebook proves it is ‘dangerously under-regulated’

The progress of the legislation has been closely watched around the world as countries including Canada and Britain consider similar steps to rein in the dominant tech platforms.

The revised code, which also includes a longer period for the tech companies to strike deals with media companies before the state intervenes, will be reviewed within one year of its commencement, the statement said. It did not provide a start date.

The legislation does not specifically name Facebook or Google. Frydenberg said earlier this week he will wait for the tech giants to strike commercial deals with media companies before deciding whether to compel both to do so under the new law.

Google has struck a series of deals with publishers, including a global content arrangement with News Corp, after earlier threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia over the laws.

Several media companies, including Seven West Media , Nine Entertainment and the Australian Broadcasting Corp have said they are in talks with Facebook.

Representatives for both Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Thursday.

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NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Cargo Launch to Space Station – NASA

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NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Cargo Launch to Space Station  NASA



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How HuffPost Canada's digital impact and untimely demise changed Canadian news media – Poynter

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Mel Woods found out they no longer had a job from a group chat.

The Vancouver-based journalist was working as HuffPost Canada’s only worker in the western region of the country, covering viral and trending stories as an associate editor, up until the outlet’s unceremonious March 2021 demise. BuzzFeed bought HuffPost in November 2019 and, just two weeks after the newsroom’s decision to unionize, closed HuffPost Canada and left 23 staff without their jobs.

It’s another data point in a long list of recent closures and contractions on the Canadian media landscape.

Many of those laid off have landed positions elsewhere. Woods now plies their trade at Xtra — a Toronto-based outlet focused on 2SLGBTQ+ perspectives — and others have surfaced as staff at The New York Times, CBC and Politico, among others. Some left for public relations gigs, and others are currently working as freelancers. The announcement of the closure just one week from the meeting, Woods said, left some staff scrambling.

“For somebody who was suddenly unemployed, it was a very, very busy week because we had to sort out what happened and when, and what the unionization played into it, what severance played into it and why it had happened because it caught all of us by surprise,” Woods said.

HuffPost’s union, CWA Canada, had never faced a closure in its history. President Martin O’Hanlon said the ceasing of operations points to BuzzFeed’s lack of understanding of the Canadian media landscape.

“I don’t think it says a lot about the Canadian media industry, per se, I think it says a lot about BuzzFeed. And I think it tells you that BuzzFeed is just interested in America, and in making as much profit as possible,” O’Hanlon said. “… They don’t give a damn about Canadian journalism is the bottom line.”

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for BuzzFeed said: “BuzzFeed announced a restructuring of HuffPost in March in order to break even this year and fast-track its path to profitability. As part of these changes, we made the difficult decision to close HuffPost’s Canada and Quebec operations. The incredibly talented teams there have made enormous contributions to the political and news ecosystems in Canada — from extensive, award-winning coverage of the federal election, to relentless reporting on how COVID-19 exacerbated a long-term care crisis, and a powerful investigation of how mental illness is responded to as a crime. We know this decision was painful for everyone affected, but we are confident that these journalists will continue to do powerful and impactful reporting in the years to come. We continue to do everything we can to ensure their transition is a smooth one.”

The announcement certainly wasn’t easy on the staff of HuffPost Canada. The all-hands meeting in which the closure was announced, which Woods said was predicted within the staff to be announcing a new U.S. editor-in-chief, had the password “spring is here.”

But the closing of HuffPost Canada is more than another sad story to add to the layoffs seen at other newsrooms in Canada, most publicly at Global and Postmedia. HuffPost’s Canada’s coverage won awards posthumously. Woods won an award from RTDNA Canada for examining gender and transphobia more than two months after the outlet officially closed.

The skill and success of the staff was partially due to the culture and the diversity of the newsroom, Woods said.

“The fact of how quickly folks have been snapped up by other places is proof of the respect that was had for our newsroom,” Woods said. “We kind of sprinkled our seeds everywhere.”

Woods likened the HuffPost style that they have taken to Xtra as “serving (readers) their vegetables, but in a good way,” through a metrics and service journalism-focused approach.

Some of those seeds appear to have taken root elsewhere. New approaches to digital journalism in Canada, including what service looks like to staff and readers, is a common thread in discussions with Canadian newsroom leaders.

The Canadian Association of Journalists recently completed data collection for their first diversity survey, modeling their work after the News Leaders Association in the U.S. Meanwhile, CBC made the decision to turn off all Facebook comments on news stories for a month beginning in mid-June, which editor-in-chief Brodie Fenlon attributed to a data-gathering exercise mixed with a want to protect the mental health of journalists. It is a policy that they have since extended to the end of October.

HuffPost Canada’s digital impact, and its dismantling, points toward a future for Canadian journalism that must consider the health of its readers and staff while acknowledging the changing needs of digital media.

CBC’s decision to direct the tenets of service journalism toward its own staff hints toward an industry that is understanding (at a glacial pace) just how worn down it is and how building back means doing so with care. At this year’s Michener Awards, a ceremony dedicated to public service journalism and its impact on society, APTN journalist Kenneth Jackson acknowledged what it means to sit with the impact your work makes, on subjects, readers and staff.

“If you want to do service journalism you can’t fly above it,” he said, “you gotta get down and wear it.”

BuzzFeed appears to have worn its decision, as have the journalists who had to face the consequences.

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OPINION/EDITORIAL: Will social media companies ever make fighting online abuse a priority? – moosejawtoday.com

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Is it just me who believes we’ve lost our ability to have civil discourse? 

Every day, we rely on social media platforms to engage with like-minded people, promote ourselves, our work, and/or business. Unfortunately, the downside of increasing your visibility, especially when you wade into an online discussion with an unpopular opinion, is you become a lightning rod for online abuse. Online abuse can be especially relentless if you are a woman, identified as a member of a race, religion, ethnicity, or part of the LGBTQ+ community.

I believe social media companies can reduce, even come close to, eliminating, online abuse. The first step: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, et al. becoming more serious and urgent about addressing the toxicity they’re permitting on their respective platform. The second step: Give users more control over their privacy, identity, and account history.  

Here are five features social media companies could introduce to mitigate online abuse.

Educate users on how to protect themselves online.

I’ll admit social media companies have been improving their anti-harassment features. However, many of these features are hard to find and not user-friendly. Platforms should have a section within their help center that deals specifically with online abuse, showing how to access internal features along with links to external tools and resources. 

Make it easy to tighten privacy and security settings.

Platforms need to make it easier for users to fine-tune their privacy and security settings and inform how these adjustments impact visibility and reach. Users should be able to save configurations of settings into personalized “safety modes,” which they can toggle between. When they alternate between safety modes, a “visibility snapshot” should show them in real-time who’ll see their content.

Distinguishing between the personal and professional

Currently, social media accounts are all-encompassing of your professional life and personal life. If you want to distinguish between your professional and personal life, you must create two accounts. Why not be able to make one social media account that toggles between your personal and professional identities as well as migrate or share audiences between them? 

Managing account histories

It’s common for people to switch jobs and careers and their views over time. Being able to pull up a user’s social media history, which can date back more than a decade, is a goldmine for abuse. Platforms should make it easy for users to easily search old posts and make them private, archive, or delete.

Credit cards and/or phone number authentication.

All social media platforms allow the creation of anonymous accounts. Ironically, much of the toxicity permeating social media stems from people hiding cowardly behind anonymous accounts. 

Anonymity enables toxic behavior by facilitating and backhandedly encouraging “uncivil discourse.” Eliminating the ability to create an anonymous account would literally end online abuse. 

Anonymity allows people to act out their anger, frustrations, and their need to make others feel bad, so they feel good. (I’m unhappy, so I want everyone else to be unhappy.). Being anonymous allows someone to say things they wouldn’t even think of or have the courage to, speak publicly, let alone face-to-face. 

All credit cards and telephone numbers are associated with a billing address. Social media platforms could prevent anonymous accounts by asking new joiners to input their credit card information, to be verified but not charged, or a telephone number to which a link, or code, can be sent to authenticate. (Email authentication is useless since email addresses can be created without identity verification.) 

Undeniable fact: When people know they can easily be traced they’re unlikely to exhibit uncivil behaviour.

Yeah, I know — for many, handing over more data to social media giants isn’t appetizing, even if it eliminates the toxic behavior hurting our collective psyche. Having to go through a credit card or telephone authentication will be pause for many to ask themselves why the feel they must be on social media. Such reflection is not a bad exercise.

Online attacks have a negative impact on mental and physical health, stops free expression, and silences voices already underrepresented in the creative and media sectors and in public discourse. 

Respective platform user guidelines (aka. Community Standards) are open to interpretation and therefore not enforced equitably. Content moderators (human eyes) and AI crawling (searching for offensive words and content) aren’t cutting it. 

Social media companies can’t deny they could be doing a much better job creating a safer online environment. Unfortunately, a safer online environment will only evolve when social media companies begin taking online abuse seriously.

Nick Kossovan writes the column ‘Digitized Koffee With Nick’ which appears in several newspapers and is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Director of Social Media (Executive Board Member). On Twitter and Instagram follow @NKossovan.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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