Categories
Media

“… the whole stream is just noise”, the state of news media

The state of news media
Reading newspapers

A depressing thought from Om Malik about the state of much of the news media these days. Fortunately there are still sources of insightful analysis that is worth reading. You just have to dig a little deeper to find them.

One of the current downsides of news blogging is that we have atomized it to a point where the whole stream is just noise. In the tech industry, funding news and HR moves have been fetishized to a point where there’s no point checking anything. Companies are getting smart and spewing so much PR content that everything and anything seems all the same — important and unimportant, both at the same time.

There is a metaphorical silver lining, though:

I know one thing: there is so little context to what we read that when we find something intelligent, we actually read it, even when there are annoying banners or native ads or teeth-whitening messages.

But be sure the read Malik’s whole post. As with all of his work, it is well worth the read.

Source: A rainy day & I’m thinking about the current state of media – Om Malik

Image credit: Igor Trepeshchenok

Categories
Publishing

” … chasing dollars and attention at any cost …”

Photo of Om Malik
Om Malik

If anything, the turmoil of the last few months has highlighted the role the media has played in many of the challenges facing us in its pursuit of attention. Om Malik expresses the central issue well in his post titled “Two relevant thoughts about media”:

What I find ironic is that the a thinker in the 1950s and a pop-star in 1990 got everything so right, while media industry keeps coming up with explanations that increasingly sound hollow. Media (as an industry and as cultural barometer) has often tried to shift blame to others — cable, Internet, Facebook, Google, Fake News — but seldom takes into account its own role in accelerating the breakdown of social norms and values. It is chasing dollars and attention at any cost which has lead to where we are.

Read Malik’s post on his blog:

Two relevant thoughts about media

Photo credit: Om Malik by Christopher Michel, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

Categories
Policy issues Writing

Confessions of a police assassin: fine journalism

The Guardian has a long form, investigative piece detailing confessions of a police assassin which is also a great example of fine journalism. The article is titled “Confessions of a killer policeman” and it definitely falls into what many would consider TL;DR.

https://twitter.com/NicDawes/status/756014870265491456

Just when people predict the death of good quality, long form journalism, I look to publications like The Guardian that still invest time and money into important work like this.

I don’t always agree with everything The Guardian publishes but this kind of journalism is worth supporting. The Guardian is also one of the many publications testing alternative revenue models. In particular, it offers a membership option where readers can make regular contributions to support the publication and receive more value in the process.

My theory about the future of news is that we will see high quality, investigative journalism become a niche that its readers will pay for as mainstream media skews towards the inane.

I hope I am at least correct that great journalism will survive into the future. The prospect of a world dominated by meaningless clickbait is depressing.

Image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Media Social Web Useful stuff

When 140 characters are not enough to rant

One of the big pieces of “news” in the last few days is that Twitter may stop counting links and images in the 140 characters permitted for tweets:

While there is other news, this one seems to have the media in an absolute frenzy. Bloomberg reported the news in an article titled “Twitter to Stop Counting Photos and Links in 140-Character Limit“. The key paragraph is this one:

The social media company will soon stop counting photos and links as part of its 140-character limit for messages, according to a person familiar with the matter. The change could happen in the next two weeks, said the person who asked not to be named because the decision isn’t yet public. Links currently take up 23 characters, even after Twitter automatically shortens them. The company declined to comment.

Largely unsubstantiated speculation

Read that carefully. What Bloomberg said is the following:

  1. Some anonymous person said Twitter will stop including links and images (well, image links, effectively) in the 140 characters limit.
  2. This might happen in the next two weeks.
  3. Twitter declined to comment.

While all of this might happen, this news report is pretty much unsubstantiated speculation (well, aside from the “person familiar with the matter” who could be a guy who passed an open window where someone who looked like a Twitter employee said something about 140 characters and links).

This speculation has then been reported as pseudo-fact by a variety of other publications. The Verge, for example, reported this:

Twitter is planning on letting users craft longer tweets by not counting photos and links toward its 140-character limit, according to a report from Bloomberg today. The change may happen in the coming weeks, and it would remove one of the more annoying product hurdles that has persisted on Twitter for years. Links and photos currently hog 23 and 24 characters respectively.

Huh?

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. For one thing, seeing so much copy written about a lot of speculation, especially after the whole 10,000 characters fiasco not too long ago which probably had more credibility because Jack Dorsey made some obscure reference to the possibility.

Secondly, Twitter reportedly declined to make any comment. In other words, Twitter either won’t confirm it because –

  • it’s just another rumour about something Twitter is still thinking about;
  • Twitter isn’t going to make the change; or
  • Twitter is being coy because it thinks this sort of frenzy might just convince all those Facebook users to switch.

Lastly, surely this sort of “news” isn’t worth all this attention? We’re literally talking about roughly two dozen characters where people either post multiple tweets to express a whole thought or do what Dorsey did back in January and publish an image of a lot of text. To add to that, a lot of people even publish thoughts that can’t be contained in 140 characters in those things we old-timers call “blogs” (it’s a real thing and it’s in the dictionary).

It might happen

If this change comes to pass, it will be a good thing. Twitter shouldn’t be counting links and media in the already constrained character limit and commentators have been calling for this change for years.

It won’t change the tweetstorms, tweets attaching images of longer texts and other stuff. It will just mean that users can probably avoid publishing multi-part tweets when they happen to be a word or two over the limit and still want their tweets to be intelligible.

Making this change won’t bring about peace in our lifetime; fix global warming or make the wifi on my train work any better. It really isn’t that big a deal, people.