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Truth, Trust and Technology: How Can Journalism Survive The Information Crisis

Based on the LSE Truth, Trust and Technology Commission this analyses the crisis for the news media in the context of the wider information crisis looking at the role of the tech companies.

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Truth, Trust and Technology: How Can Journalism Survive The Information Crisis

  1. 1. Truth, trust and technology: How can journalism survive the information crisis? Professor Charlie Beckett LSE NU lecture March 2019
  2. 2. Has the world gone mad?
  3. 3. Has the post-Enlightenment dream of an informed society turned into digital dystopia?
  4. 4. Getting worse before it gets better 1. Governments, corporations, lobby groups now investing in information manipulation 2. New channels, platforms and networks will provide fresh distribution outlets for misinformation 3. Failure to address systematic problems means we treat symptoms not structural challenges
  5. 5. Fake news is good news for (good) journalism
  6. 6. Truth, trust and technology: rethinking the agenda
  7. 7. Truth Abundance Misinformation Disinformation Bias Subjectivity Anti-media strategy
  8. 8. Living in a multi-truth world? • Lots of different sources – golden age of ‘choice’ • Stream of social means news is blended • News gap – people’s agenda is different to newsrooms • Increasing role of emotions and identity in consumption of news
  9. 9. Improving news media credibility • Increased resources for public service news • Fact checking • Credibility signalling • Better story-telling • Transparency • Better emotional literacy from journalists
  10. 10. Trust: re-thinking the relationship
  11. 11. Living in a low-trust world? • Loss of trust applies to most authority, not just media or politics • Is it a bad thing? Scepticism and lack of deference are good • Cynicism and apathy and general distrust not so good • Trust is a relationship – being more truthful will help
  12. 12. Improving Trust • Transparency will help: open, honest, expert • Humility: listening, seeking expertise • Accountability: interactive, open, responsive, codes • Relevance – widen the agenda • Diversity – change the newsroom, understand audiences and the wider public(s) • Change the news organisation - collaboration, crowd-sourcing, membership
  13. 13. Technology: the problem with algorithms driven by the attention economy • Harm (children) • Offence • Extremism • Polarisation • Misinformation • Emotional drivers
  14. 14. Technology • Tech is not neutral – it can be subject to public policy like anything else • The News Zealand attack showed you can’t just keep treating the symptoms • Have to decide what the problem is, is tech causing it, what responsibility do we want them to have, who will be charged with overseeing that? • First of all we need an observatory, then an iterative process of evolving regulation that recognises their unique nature and role
  15. 15. Independent Platform Agency (IPA) model • ■ Report on trends in news and information sharing according to a methodological framework subject to public consultation. • ■ Report on the effectiveness of self-regulation of the largest news-carrying social and search platforms. This should include reports on trust marks, credibility signalling, filtering and takedown. • ■ Mobilise and coordinate all relevant actors to ensure an inclusive and sustained programme in media literacy for both children and adults, and conduct evaluations of initiatives. • ■ Report annually to Parliament on the performance of platforms’ self-regulation and the long-term needs for possible regulatory action. • ■ Provide reports on request to other agencies such as the Electoral Commission, Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office, to support the performance of their duties, according to agreed criteria. • ■ Work closely with Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority to monitor the level of market dominance and the impact of platforms on media plurality and quality.
  16. 16. Tech for good? Funding of local PSM in UK • Danger of dependency • Questions over independence, sustainability, selection of grantees • But it is a shift of resources • Tech co’s have an interest in making this work • In the face of market failure that’s a useful coincedence
  17. 17. No-one said it would be easy. Journalism must recognize that the media world has changed; news has changed; the public has changed; the world has changed – has it changed?
  18. 18. Subjectivity is the new objectivity 1. ‘Traditional’ journalism values now at a premium 2. Gatekeeper role over, traditional objectivity inadequate 3. Understand the ’audience’ and their emotional, personal media lives 4. Go with the human grain of social media
  19. 19. “The challenge for the networked journalist is clear: how best to sustain the ethical, social, and economic value of journalism in this new emotionally networked environment.” Beckett, C and Deuze, M (2016) On the Role of Emotion in the Future of Journalism (Social Media + Society)
  20. 20. Keep in touch: @CharlieBeckett Director’s commentary blog: