The Imperious Imposters of Journalism Innovation
This is an absolute must-read piece on both Facebook’s relationship with publishers and the practice of digital innovation within journalism businesses. It was hard work to restrict myself to just two extracts.
But how about this about Campbell Brown?
In many respects, Campbell Brown is the perfect figurehead for Facebook’s flailing efforts to repair its relationship with the press. Her imperious mien, perfected over a long tenure behind a corporate news desk, reflects Facebook’s (and Zuckerberg’s) casual disregard for an industry that the company would prefer to think it doesn’t need. Armed with its profoundly detailed records of user consumption, Facebook knows just how much, or how little, news gruel to serve up to its livestock (Mosseri said that his figure of four percent news-in-the-news feed was previously five percent, until the company tinkered with the algorithmic dials). Still, Brown is able to project the image of a sovereign who, overwhelmed by the vastness of her holdings, couldn’t possibly offer a suitable comment on the state of things to come.
And I thought I was harsh about her…
And this, about “innovation” efforts in newsrooms is just exquisite:
News outfits are now dotted with various well-compensated directors of digital projects and other preachers of the innovate-or-die gospel who have little idea of the travails of, say, a metro reporter working in the bullpen next door. These people can spend years burnishing their records as ideators-in-residence without having anything tangible to show for it, before hitching themselves to the next digital fad—schizophrenic chat bots, boutique social networks, or maybe mini drones that whisper tweets into your ear. It’s a lucrative racket, if also a less than inspiring one, mostly involvig the spirited regurgitation of company jargon, the repackaging of hazy prognostications about a future no one understands, a maundering array of global conference appearances, all while touting revolutionary products that may never come to market.
Do yourself a favour, and enjoy the whole thing.