Digital disruption: Facebook changes how we ‘do’ news

There is no doubt that digitalisation is changing the world as we know it.

Commuters are no longer buying the paper at the newsstand; instead we are reaching online for the latest trending topics.

Professor Lawrie Zion, Head of Department: Communication and Media at La Trobe University describes the digital disruption as a way for people to reach different kinds of news more easily.

“[Consumers] can better connect with issues they consider in a range of places… and more easily find out about topics or things they’re really interested in,” said Zion.

The digital world has erupted before our eyes but more specifically, Facebook has changed the way we consume news in so many ways.

In his recent manifesto, published to Facebook in February, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the use of Facebook in the future to keep us safe, to inform us, for civic engagement and for inclusion of all.

“A strong news industry is also critical to building an informed community,” wrote Zuckerberg.

“There is more we must do to support the news industry to make sure this vital social function is sustainable – from growing local news, to developing formats best suited to mobile devices, to improving the range of business models news organisations rely on.”

shutterstock_445792426.jpg(Photo by: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock)

Nowadays, Facebook algorithms play a major part in the news we consume; our newsfeeds are tailored to reflect our mood, interests and political stances.

“[There is] a clear sense that digital media can narrow your outlook as well as broaden it,” said Professor Lawrie Zion.

Whilst there are many benefits to our digital world, we realise the impact it is having on the media industry.

Former Globe editor-in-chief and author of Mass Disruption: Thirty Years on the Front Lines of a Media Revolution John Stackhouse outlines in his book how difficult publishing used to be, compared to now.

“Veteran advertisers recall having to plead for a way into a fat weekend paper, or call in favours to get their ad near the front of a section, or pay exorbitant rates to get their message in print.”

Spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey conducted by Pew Research Center shows only 7% of Australians don’t access the Internet or own a smartphone.

With so many people, globally, who have access to Facebook, we have seen the rise of the amateur content creator; it has meant people can share experiences when and as they happen.

Professor Lawrie Zion describes this overload as a challenge to evaluate the quality of information we are using.

Consumers and professionals are no longer used to “reading things that have been curated within a news framework,” said Professor Zion.

Zuckerberg described Facebook’s recent introduction of its ‘Live’ feature to enable people around the world to share and consume the daily lives of strangers.

This phenomenon has meant anyone with a smartphone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world.

Most recently, Buzzfeed News live streamed a man’s release from prison after being framed for a double murder 23 years ago; the video went viral with over 1000 shares.

Since its inception, Facebook has struggled with controlling this feature; not only with the public sharing of violence but its affect on the media industry.

The feature has caused issues of piracy, with Facebook Live streams of the Danny Green-Anthony Mundine fight and other major events licensed to certain broadcasters.

“Traditional news outlets have lost control of who their audience is and of the revenue that’s there to support the way that they were working,” said Professor Zion.

Eventually, Zuckerberg hopes to deploy the virtual reality technology that the company acquired in 2014 to transform video into an even more-lifelike encounter.

As journalists, we must stay on top of the latest digital trends to ensure our industry doesn’t slip between the cracks of the digital revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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