Who do you want to program your screens? Who do you want to take you for a digital ride?
It’s a fundamental question for consumers of information. When you choose the social media platforms as your answer, you become the product that they monetize via your daily obsessions and rapt attention, which is now the default position for millions of “thought workers,” thanks to the power of the scrolling spell.
When you choose mainstream media over Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, et al, you are not the product. You are the subscriber, or you can’t get to the content. It’s all gated. Here, you pay to play. Or you go back to the forever scroll.
When You Pay Attention, The Platforms Get Paid
Audience share—it’s something we focus on in media and marketing because customer attention is currency. It’s air, without which no one breathes and no one flies.
To say there is an intense battle for attention today is the understated way of saying media companies, brands, and social media platforms all need your eyeballs on their content, or they don’t get paid.
Social media wrought a sea change in the journalism industry, changing form, delivery mechanism, and content style. To survive, many mastheads transformed into social media and digital outlets, creating new provocative content to foster engagement online and generate revenue. The end result has been polarizing, less factual, and in general, toxic for our society.
Journalism evolved its content form to engage rather than inform.
The truth hurts. Badly, in this case. When you cheapen and degrade your product as a reaction to marketplace whims, where are you then? You’re the puppet on a string.
Media Literacy Now! Media Literacy Forever!
Livingston argues for common sense and a stronger grounding in media literacy for all citizens.
Citizens need to better understand and question the media it consumes so that we can formulate our own opinion about the veracity of the data presented to us. Assume that incomplete reporting is the new norm.
Again, he brings the pain. Incomplete reporting is the new norm, not because we lack reporters or that reporters lack skills. The system has been bled dry.
Social media platforms appeared in the aughts and the disruption that ensued was cataclysmic. Many of our personal behaviors changed dramatically. And our advertising outputs changed. Advertising lost immense ground as an industry during this time. We became producers of content more so than strategic allies. Big mistake.
Original Content Is the Driver
The advertising industry is far from alone in this self-perpetuating mess. Our media partners are arguably in worse shape. The truly sad part is how we are not actively working to help one another.
Instead of forming an airtight alliance and setting the agenda for the platforms (which rely on the original content created by brands and media companies for monetizable material), advertisers and media companies are still trying to please the new kids in town.
Yes, the new kids are now richer than all the Rockerfellers. When they fail to produce their own content, and they do, they’re also dependents.
What if media companies stopped gating their content for subscribers and instead charged the platforms for the right to share original content on their pages?
It’s No Longer A Rhetorical Question
According to CNN, Australia is moving to impose sweeping new rules that would require Facebook and Google to pay media organizations for the use of their news content.
Regulators on Friday released draft legislation that would let news publishers in the country negotiate compensation with the two tech companies for sharing or displaying their stories.
Nine, a major media company in Australia that owns The Sydney Morning Herald and the local edition of Business Insider said it welcomed the government’s decision to recognize “the importance of the regulatory and bargaining imbalances that exist between Australian media organizations and the dominant global digital platforms.”
CNN also reports that Google is starting to ink deals to pay publishers. The first deals include Australian companies Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media; Brazil’s Diarios Associados and A Gazeta; and Germany’s Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit and Rheinische Post.