When the News Loses Its Soul

Facebook’s algorithm will control journalism if we let it

Gizmodo‘s Michael Nunez delved into the lives of Facebook’s contract journalists in a well-shared piece:

Over time, the work became increasingly demanding, and Facebook’s trending news team started to look more and more like the worst stereotypes of a digital media content farm. Managers gave curators aggressive quotas for how many summaries and headlines to write, and timed how long it took curators to write a post.

Security/Privacy Issues:

Facebook is not a friend of journalism. That’s the mistake too many publishers are making. Yes, Instant Articles are sexy and monetisable – but they’re an excellent way of Facebook keeping people in Facebook when they read our stories, rather than exploring our sites. Yes, Facebook is a hugely important route to readers, but the more dependent we get on them, the more they’ll be able to charge us to access that audience.

And, if you’re not already concerned, the news that Facebook is seeing an alarming (to them) drop in sharing of personal information should be ringing warning bells:

Big Data / Algorithmic Fairness:

But can journalists’ news judgement really be billed down to an algorithm? Surely the human gut instinct for a story is something mere software can’t replicate.

Where does it all lead?

So where does that leave us? Reporting – but with a strong point of view. We can’t just provide the facts, we have to contextualise them, explain them – and perhaps make them entertaining. This is, in essence, a challenge to up our game.

Source: Facebook’s algorithm will control journalism if we let it

+Note: Do read the Gizmodo piece and this excerpted article in full. Both very telling indicators of the challenges & the times we live in.


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