The majority of us, in this modern day, depend on social media platforms as our main source for local and international news. Most of us are aware that many of these stories quote ‘facts” based on unsubstantiated statistics on our favourite sites which are often propaganda and misinformation. But what are we to do? We have busy lives and it can be difficult to decipher fact from fiction, and the constant cross-checking of every fact in reality is not a viable option. As our journalism outlets struggle to keep up with the digital future, so does the integrity of our information. Journalism as an industry has been losing its once impenetrable upper hand in the news industry for years. Soon we may see these news outlets finally losing to large corporations such as Google and Facebook, who freely utilise their media for content, although retaliations from these large sources suggest that we may instead see their journalistic media disappearing from these sites and possibly forever.
Once upon a time, newspapers were peoples’ main source of world news and politics. Long ago, you would pick up the morning newspaper and catch up on everything in the world. Now, in our digital age, our news sites have taken a big hit. No one wants to pay for their news anymore. Physical newspapers are a thing of the past, replaced with trendy videos and quick bite sized articles for our shrinking attention spans. Now instead of our newspapers, we find ourselves reaching for our phones in the morning. Who would want to pay for a newspaper when you have a sea of information at your fingertips? As our attention spans continue to shrink, we are seeing more and more newspapers lose their profits as people turn to digital sources. However, this is a cause of a major issue, as we find our own Australian journalists and journalistic media outlets begin to slowly die out, starving for attention and income. This has a huge impact on us, as our professional media sources die, it represents the death of our some of our last creditable sources of news. Not only this, but no longer will we see media attention drawn to local issues, as there will be no one to cover them, no one to care. So how do we help them prepare for the future?
The Australian government has recently attempted to amend this by making several changes to our media laws. These new reforms are designed to assist the local news media outlets to defend themselves from being taken advantage of by large corporations. In its proposed plan, it would make Facebook and Google pay for the utilisation of these sources. As the Australian federal government attempts to support journalistic businesses, Google and Facebook corporations have retaliated, declaring it as unfair and unreasonable. Many threats are being thrown around in desperation as these laws head closer and closer to reality. Facebook is threatening to remove all ‘professional media outlet sharing functions’ off their application and Google warns that their search functions will no longer function at its full capability.
These laws allow for the news sources to charge these large companies any amount they deem acceptable furthering the outrage from big corporations. They argue that they should not have to pay for the media its users voluntarily post on their sites. Furthermore, these organisations assert that these laws are ignoring the benefits of the free media attention they bring to these smaller media publishers, by providing a free platform to display this content. This is partially true, if these laws truly do force larger corporations to remove journalistic capabilities, we may see the opposite of the intended effect. However, as much as they are bringing attention to these media outlets, this can be disvalued by the revenue that is still being directed to the larger corporations. Attention without revenue is worthless.
These threats have made little difference to the Australian Federal Government, who have held their ground and ignored the protests of the larger social media organisations. Australia is the first country to introduce such a stringent law in regards to news distribution and is pioneering the way for the future of news. Truthfully, as helpful as this law may be to revalue journalism, this is not as easy a fix as it may seem and if journalists continue to refuse to adapt properly to the new digital era and generation of people, we may still lose the integrity of our news.
Is this bill the help that journalism needs to once again reach its glory or is this just a sign we need to get ready for a new format of news?