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How Jessica Lessin Built a Digital Media Business by Covering Digital Media – Variety

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Jessica Lessin was ahead of the curve on the boom in subscription media.

While working as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal nearly a decade ago, she saw an opening in the journalism market for more thoughtful longform reporting. The decision to follow her instincts meant that she has been in the business of launching a subscription business just as the companies she covers went headlong into an industry-shaking pivot to direct-to-consumer offerings.

On the latest episode of Variety’s podcast “Strictly Business,” the founder and editor-in-chief of The Information discusses the growth of the eight-year-old outlet that has distinguished itself through deep-dive reporting, analysis and scoops in the tech and media worlds.

“It’s been fascinating to see the media business embrace [DTC services] and in some ways be upended by it,” Lessin says.

Lessin is the sole owner and financier of Information, which has a staff of about 40 at present. Running the company has given her perspective on what it takes to be an effective CEO and the factors that fuel a successful venture.

“I always come back to this one — as a journalist whenever I saw turnover at a company, I always thought it was a really bad sign,” she says. “And to be clear, it often is…But I haven’t gotten every hiring decision correct. I’ve made mistakes. As a founder you realize [personnel] is the only side you have to get right, right? If you can run a team and build a team, that will make you successful. If you can’t, you won’t. A different perspective on that is something I’ve felt while wearing this hat while still wearing my journalist hat.”

Lessin also offers her thoughts on what she sees ahead for Silicon Valley stalwarts including Facebook, Google and TikTok. TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance, which tangled with the Trump administration earlier this year, is one to watch for sure, she says.

“They’re one of the world’s most valuable private companies headed for a big IPO in next 12 months or so,” she says. “I think they’ll be some more drama to the story.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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Google says it will remove search function in Australia if media code becomes law – The Journal Pioneer

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Google said on Friday it will disable its search function in Australia if the government proceeds with a media code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay local media companies for sharing their content.

Australia is on course to pass laws that would make the Big Tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content. If they can’t strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price.

“The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria presents unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google,” Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Alphabet Inc-owned Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

The United States government this week asked Australia to scrap the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and suggested Australia should pursue a voluntary code instead.

Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers.

Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology .

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Byron Kaye and Gerry Doyle)

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Fact or Fiction: Does Trump’s social media ban threaten our freedom of expression? – Global News

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Its been radio silence from @realDonaldTrump‘s Twitter account for a while.

The former U.S. president was permanently pink-slipped by the tech giant on Jan. 8, to prevent him from inciting further violence, following the riots in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.

Shortly after, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and more than a dozen other platforms followed suit in kicking the politician to the curb.

For some, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the move was the right thing to do. But others argue it was too little too late because, you know, the United States Capitol had already been invaded and all.

“I think he got away with a lot because of his position, because he was the president,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, assistant professor at the School of Religion at Queen’s University, and an expert in radicalization and terrorism. “It was a kind of protected account in many ways, regardless of the hate speech he put out there, regardless of the misinformation he put out there.”

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Read more:
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defends decision to ban Trump, warns of dangerous precedent

While the debate continues on whether a permanent ban was necessary (as opposed to a temporary one), one thing is for certain: this sudden move by Big Tech has unleashed a tornado of questions about what censorship means for our rights to express ourselves in Canada.

So much so that David Fraser, a privacy lawyer at McInnes Cooper, says the term “freedom of expression” is being inaccurately thrown around.

“I think [people] need to be very careful with how they use terminology like ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘freedom of expression’… because that has a particular legal meaning,” Fraser said.

“[Freedom of expression] means that the government cannot restrict what it is that individuals say, subject only to certain limitations … so we do have laws related to hate speech and laws related to defamation.”

The key word here is “government.”

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So tech giants like Twitter — a private corporation that is very separate from the government — can legally censor whomever they wish.

“Anybody who creates an online community has the right to create rules for that community. They have the right to determine who is allowed on that community, and who is not — as long as its not discriminatory, for example, related to race, religion, things like that,” said Fraser.

Fraser also notes that when you’re silenced on a specific platform, you’re still free to go somewhere else to express yourself.

You can download the next public engagement app or belt out your thoughts at the town square, all while remaining uninterrupted by the government, which means your freedom of expression is still intact.

Read more:
Trump seeks new online megaphone after Twitter ban

But even if social media censorship doesn’t infringe on our free expression, it has definitely awakened many to the power that private corporations hold over public conversations.

“There’s a monopoly on that conversation,” said Richard Lachman, associate professor at the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University. “So if you are Google or Apple, you can control everything that happens on our mobile devices. That’s not great. ”

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Lachman says the terms of service laid down by these platforms seem to apply to some users, and not to others, specifically world leaders.

That inconsistency leaves room for online abusers to run amuck and spread violence without getting censored, which leads the rest of the online community to believe that the platforms are picking and choosing who gets to stay.


Click to play video 'Trump condemns ‘unprecedented assault on free speech’ in wake of social media crackdown'



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Trump condemns ‘unprecedented assault on free speech’ in wake of social media crackdown


Trump condemns ‘unprecedented assault on free speech’ in wake of social media crackdown – Jan 13, 2021

Cue a common argument on why the platforms should no longer be allowed to set the rules for themselves.

“The problem with letting the industry regulate itself is that we know full-well over the last several years, that has not worked very well,” said Fuyuki Kurasawa, York University research chair and director of the Global Digital Citizenship Lab.

“Social media corporations are very good at convincing us that they have very rigorous procedures and rules when it comes to determining who is able to be on the platform. But the reality is that they don’t. They are making up the rules as they go along, for the most part,” said Kurasawa.

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Read more:
Social media giants are not taking Canadian laws seriously: MPs

“There’s too much power in the hands of a few platforms that allow this kind of misinformation to grow and spread too quickly … and so those companies need to be broken up,” said Lachman.

Broken up through government regulation.

Advocates for this say it would lay down clear, consistent guidelines for all social media platforms on what exactly can and can’t be said, and what consequences would be instore for violators.

It’s not a new plea, but it is one that University of Waterloo assistant professor of Communication Arts Shana MacDonald says isn’t happening fast enough.

“We know that misinformation spreads six to seven times more than facts,” said MacDonald. “So I really do encourage and hope to see — with the kind of damage we’ve seen go on — that that relationship between governments and tech giants is taken more seriously.”

Read more:
COMMENTARY: Platform regulation is too important to be left to Americans alone

Some say government regulation would mean we’re one step closer to a George Orwellian society. But Lachman, Amarasingam, and MacDonald all say regulation would protect users from the rampant harms of social media, such as cyberbullying and doxing. It would also show that public figures cannot get away with spreading baseless claims online. And it would also decrease misinformation — since a Cornell University study found that the biggest driver of COVID-19 misinformation during the first half of 2020 was — you guessed it — Donald Trump.

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Click to play video 'Trump slammed for suggesting disinfectant ingestion as COVID-19'



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Trump slammed for suggesting disinfectant ingestion as COVID-19


Trump slammed for suggesting disinfectant ingestion as COVID-19 – Apr 24, 2020

“We have medical regulations. We have regulations about vaccinations and whether your kids can go to school. We accept a lot of limitations in society, for the good of society,” said Lachman. “It is past time for governments to decide this is important. This is not new media anymore.”

“Radio is regulated, TV is regulated, but somehow social media gets to function completely untouched,” said Amarasingam.

“That is probably going to start to change.”

Still, Amarasingam and Lachman say some platforms have made an effort to take accountability.

We saw it in 2019, when Mark Zuckerberg penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post. We saw it in 2015, during Twitter’s fight against ISIS. And we saw it on Jan. 13, when Jack Dorsey admitted Twitter’s policies and enforcement have been inconsistent.

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But Kurasawa, MacDonald and Lachman say moving towards safer online communities is going to cost platforms a lot more than just admitting failure.

The real price would be loss of revenue, which they say is a big factor in why these platforms are still shying away from government regulation, despite publicly calling for it.

“[The platforms] are in the business — not so much of protecting free speech or banning people — but they are in the business of data collection, data analysis, and selling that data. In other words, they need user engagement,” said Kurasawa.

Read more:
Facebook denies that ’10 year challenge’ is a ploy to collect facial recognition data

“Unfortunately the things that create the most user engagement are forms of content that generate strong emotions, often controversies.”

“We know that things that make us angry —  things that create tense conversations online — are the things that draw us into social media and keep us there, and so they are the things that make money,” said MacDonald.

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Could the events from Jan. 6 speed up conversations between tech giants and government?

Lachman and Amarasingam say perhaps  … but the bottom line is that the Capitol siege has shown the world that we cannot afford to wait for regulation any longer.


Click to play video 'Trump alludes to social media ban during farewell address'



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Trump alludes to social media ban during farewell address


Trump alludes to social media ban during farewell address

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How To Harness The Hot New Social Media App Clubhouse To Build Your Brand – Forbes

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At age 27, Jessica Williamson already has established a six-figure business, Ete Swimwear. While running her company, she also coaches other female e-commerce entrepreneurs on how to scale and grow their businesses. Recently, Williamson received an invitation to join Clubhouse, one of the newest social media platforms.

After learning that Clubhouse can connect you with some of the world’s most prominent business and industry leaders via live voice interaction, Williamson decided to give it a try. She quickly discovered that the app indeed enabled her to speak directly with numerous movers and shakers. So, she jumped in fully. In just two days, she already had gained hundreds of new followers – not just on Clubhouse, but on other social media platforms, as well.  

Here is what Williamson has learned about Clubhouse so far.

1.    Clubhouse is an authentic way to interact with famous people.

Everyone is on Clubhouse to give value. When I first joined, I entered a “room” dedicated to business growth. On the “stage” were Grant Cardone, Tiffany Haddish, Jim Kwik and several USA Shark Tank investors – people with millions of followers! Then, I asked and was granted access to the “stage” with them.

Because Clubhouse links directly to your Twitter and Instagram accounts, there are no DM functions or chat functions, comments or likes. The only way to interact with people through Clubhouse is via voice. That means you get to ask questions, seek advice, and tell people exactly what you have to offer. 

Within minutes on the app, I got to speak directly to famous people, and it was all completely live. It was like a normal phone call. It was insane! I was speaking with the biggest business leaders in the world. I was blown away. Hearing people’s real voices definitely helps to build connection.

2.    Clubhouse helps potential followers understand the value you can offer.

In order to soak up the value you can get from the platform, put yourself out there as much as you can. Because of my experience in podcasting and doing Instagram live, I’m more than comfortable putting my hand up and hoping to be invited onto the “stage.” And I have been. It has proven a great opportunity to share my business insights. Just being on stage got me 60 new followers. Even Tiffany Haddish followed me! (I doubled checked; it’s not a fake account.)

Since the Clubhouse app links directly to Instagram, it quickly builds your follower count. In fact, I gained 200 new Instagram followers after just two days on Clubhouse. I also got about 50 new direct messages (DMs). In the past, I’d be lucky to get one or two DMs each month from people I don’t follow. DMs are usually a more meaningful way to connect with followers, as they ask serious questions and genuinely want your expertise.

3.    Getting in early means more opportunities.

There’s so much opportunity on this app right now because you have to be invited by someone who is already on Clubhouse. Each person currently receives only a few invites, so it’s still super exclusive. However, it is growing exponentially. 

As a first mover, it feels very meaningful to me to be on Clubhouse, so I am making the most of it. I’m certain that as time goes on, we may not be able to access the featured speakers as easily as we can now, because the rooms will become crowded. This will mean fewer opportunities to get on to the stage and speak to the celebrities. I’ve therefore been spending a lot of time on the app to make sure I’m getting the most out of it.

4.    You can learn how to use Clubhouse by listening in on different “rooms.”

Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or how the app worked when I joined. However, upon jumping into a few groups and putting myself out there, I got the hang of it very quickly. In several groups, people were chatting about all the functions of the app and how Clubhouse actually works, so that was really handy.

5.    Quick tips on how to use Clubhouse.

· Round table discussions work best – not a hierarchy of someone speaking. When people can join in and speak, they stick around!

· Have as many moderators as possible to create a larger room.

· Raise your hand to ask moderators to let you speak. You can leave a room any time by “peacing out.”

· Your bio shows up as SEO, so it is key to communicate what value can you offer in the first three lines.

· Showing up and actually participating in groups is vital. I asked one question and gained five to ten followers.

· Co-hosting groups is critical, as well. Partner with people to host rooms on a certain topic.

· You need to reset the room a few times for all the new people that have joined.

· A good length for a program is 60 to 90 minutes.  

· Ask people to DM you a word. For example, “DM me for freebie” or whatever so you can send them the link to your resources.

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