Saturday, December 4

Meta moves to boost our media disappoint observers

Facebook, recently rebranded as ‘Meta’, gives local media content a lot of additional reach, but does not cover any of the creation costs while capturing most of the digital advertising revenue that attracts. This week, the billion-dollar company unveiled a new program to help sustain our media, but some pundits and editors are disappointed.

The meta logo displayed on a phone screen and the Facebook icon displayed on a laptop screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on October 29, 2021.

Photo: AFP

Last week, the all-powerful Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg suddenly announced that his tech titan had a new identity: Meta.

In a pre-recorded video, he said that he is planning a virtual “metaverse” in which we can all socialize. But while it signaled an optimistic new future,’s take was: Zuckerberg announces a fantasy world where Facebook is not a horrible company.

Facebook is facing some pretty reputation-damaging things in its past and present right now: it spreads misinformation, profits from hate speech, and harms the mental health of young people.

In the wake of recent revelations from Facebook whistleblowers, including Frances Haugen, some experts are now wondering whether the extraordinarily profitable company formerly known as Facebook will be forced to face the responsibilities that come with its unmatched reach, even here in New Zealand. .

A local Facebook group created at the end of last year that is dedicated to vaccine misinformation now he’s over 40, 000 members. Similar things flourish out of control in many other Facebook forums as well.

But that wasn’t the reason why Meta, who rarely responds to media interview requests, was on RNZ. Morning report Last Thursday.

Meta’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, unveiled a four-part program to support journalism in New Zealand.

The program includes:

  • a grant-based funding accelerator program to help 12 news publishers innovate,

  • a five-member Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group, one of which is based in Australia,

  • invest an unspecified amount to help publishers experiment with video and digital journalism.

  • Meta NZ News Day events “connect newsrooms and provide best practice training for journalists on using Facebook. (The first of them takes place on November 26).

Facebook Policy Director for Australia and New Zealand Mia Garlick

Facebook Policy Director for Australia and New Zealand Mia Garlick

Mia Garlick said Morning report Facebook had been collaborating with New Zealand publishers in recent years and helping news organizations make money on the company’s platforms.

In recent years, Facebook and Google alike have invested in supporting online journalism here through things like Facebook Journalism Project and the Google News Initiative.

Both have launched tools to help the media secure payment subscribers and they have visited New Zealand to promote them and train publishers on how to use them.

Upon Morning report This week, Meta’s Mia Garlick said that news publishers whose content appears on Facebook and Instagram benefited more financially than platforms.

“What we are really trying to do now is recognize that the goal in New Zealand is to support a sustainable, diverse and robust ecosystem,” he added.

But she would not say how much money Facebook was investing in this plan.

The new Meta moves might be helpful to some publishers here, but nothing quite as helpful as the multi-million dollar payments Google and Facebook have made to the media in Australia to carry their news because their government threatened to change the law to force them. to pay.

At Newstalk ZB, Mike Hosking, unimpressed, dismissed it as “training days. . . with cups of tea and biscuits. “

Who would you rather be: News Corp, Channel 7, Channel 10 and ABC with millions of dollars? Or do you prefer to be in New Zealand where they are launching a training and scholarship program? He asked wryly.

Stuff is New Zealand’s largest news publisher and employs more journalists than anyone else. But in mid-2020, the company’s new CEO Sinead Boucher said. Mediawatch she was not interested.

Stuff stopped announcing and posting his news on the platform after the 2019 mosque atrocity, which was streamed live on Facebook, because “it was not consistent with his own core public values.”

Sinead Boucher has not changed his position

“They have run these types of accelerators or financing programs in various ways over the years,” he said. said things this week.

“They are designed to link news outlets more closely to their platforms, and to increase publishers’ trust in Facebook, and therefore ensure a supply of high-quality content for Facebook for free.”

That’s what all this is about?

Rory Cellan-Jones

Rory Cellan-Jones
Photo: supplied

“What these two companies have captured in an extraordinary way is the mobile advertising industry, the fuel of the entire mobile Internet, which is obviously a huge business,” said Rory Cellan-Jones, who just retired as chief correspondent for BBC technology. Mediawatch this week.

“While they have that kind of control, they won’t worry about having to send a few dollars to this news organization or that one. In the end, it will be pocket money for people like Facebook and Google. They may complain about it, but they won’t see it as a great threat to their business model, “he said.

“I don’t think Facebook wants to do something that doesn’t really benefit them. They’ve said that only about 1.5 percent of all content that’s distributed on the platform is news, so I don’t think they have an interest in news. news, “said Dr. Myllilahti, a leading researcher for New Zealand media and online platforms. Mediawatch.

“When they launch this type of accelerator program or a subscription program, they are all implemented on that platform. It benefits Facebook because it forces these contributors to use the platform. I think what they announced here is almost like an insult,” he said. said.

Dr. Merja Myllilahti

Dr. Merja Myllilahti
Photo: supplied

However, in today’s digital environment, it is important for publishers to be able to earn income online and attract subscribers and followers.

In a recent article for the International News Media Association, Dr. Myllylahti herself found that some independent publishers had a good experience with the Facebook accelerator program, and Google subscription it had driven a substantial number of new subscriptions for some.

“Anything that gives the media a boost is good, but news companies need to do it within the platform ecosystem so that it integrates some even more closely,” he said.

Last week open applications to Facebook A $ 15 million Australian news fund for public interest journalism, led by the long-standing journalism industry team The Walkley Foundation.

Could Meta’s announcement this week be the start of broader financial support for journalism here?

“I doubt it because in Australia that fund is for content and it is divided between multiple organizations. We don’t know what the package really is here in New Zealand and there are no announced dollar terms, and there are 12 news organizations involved, so it’s not really much, ”he said.

On a recently published study On the impact of Google and Facebook payments to the media over the past decade, Dr. Myllilahti concluded that the long-term impacts on revenue are difficult to predict, but further strengthen the dominant news companies.

“Payments from Google and Facebook often go to media companies that are already dominant, benefiting those that were already strong. The local media was mostly left out, “he said.

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