Digital Challenges to Traditional News Media Models

Featured

In Australia, and internationally, traditional or legacy print media is being challenged not by its importance in informing people e.g. during bushfires, Covid-19 crisis etc. but related challenges of economics, populist politics, innovation or lack of and now preferred use of digital channels and major social media like Facebook and Google by most people nowadays.

 

Following are excerpts from articles outlining challenges of populism, PR, social media or atomisation of channels, and possible solutions to support news, democracy, innovation and business models in a digital world.

 

From Inside Story Australia:

 

How disasters are shaping Australians’ news habits

 

A new study tracks the rise in news consumption during the bushfires and the pandemic — and finds a glimmer of hope for publishers.

 

In times of great uncertainty, readers and viewers will seek out reliable, accurate and up-to-date news — doubly so when their own safety and wellbeing are at stake. But will the news media continue to be there when they’re needed?

 

The latest Digital News Report: Australia, the sixth annual study of national news consumption trends, provides further evidence that Australians still rely on the news media — directly or indirectly — regardless of its financial difficulties…..

 

….News businesses, digital platforms and the government will need to reconsider how to maintain a healthy news ecosystem and keep citizens informed. Paying attention to what news consumers are telling us would be a good starting point.

 

Our survey confirmed that social media and search are now the two major pathways to online news, with a growing number of people accessing news through mobile alerts, newsletters and aggregator apps. News consumers are trying to find efficient ways to curate and organise the vast amount of news available to them. Rather than go directly to the news-brand websites themselves, audiences are increasingly relying on Google and Facebook to find what they want….

 

….But we know news media businesses are struggling to adapt to the digital environment, and we know they haven’t yet found a sustainable means of surviving.

 

From The Conversation Australia:

 

Media have helped create a crisis of democracy – now they must play a vital role in its revival

 

In May 2020, with the world still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Margaret MacMillan, an historian at the University of Toronto, wrote an essay in The Economist about the possibilities for life after the pandemic had passed.

 

On a scale of one to ten, where one was utter despair and ten was cautious hopefulness, it would have rated about six. Her thesis was that the future will be decided by a fundamental choice between reform and calamity….

 

….She was writing against a backdrop of a larger crisis – the crisis in democracy. The most spectacular symptoms of this were the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the Brexit referendum. Both occurred in 2016, and both appealed to populism largely based on issues of race and immigration….

 

How the pandemic contracted the media landscape further

 

Alongside these developments, the existential crisis facing news media was made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. As business activity was brought to a stop by the lockdown, the need for advertising was drastically reduced.

 

Coming on top of the haemorrhaging of advertising revenue to social media over the previous 15 years, this proved fatal to some newspapers…..

 

Defending against the digital onslaught

 

At a national level, the Australian government took up a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to force the global platforms, particularly Facebook and Google, to pay for the news it took from Australian media….

 

Populism and scapegoating

 

A third factor in the crisis, exacerbated by the first two, is the rise of populism. Its defining characteristics are distrust of elites, negative stereotyping, the creation of a hated “other”, and scapegoating. The hated “other” has usually been defined in terms of race, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion or some combination of them.

 

Powerful elements of the news media, most notably Fox News in the United States, Sky News in Australia and the Murdoch tabloids in Britain, have exploited and promoted populist sentiment……

 

From Mumbrella Australia:

 

Publishers: Stop expecting handouts from Facebook and Google, start innovating

 

 

Facebook and Google direct enormous volumes of traffic to news publishers. But instead of paying for the privilege, like other brands do, publishers expect to get paid. Simon Larcey says that instead of the ‘last-ditch, half-assed cash grab’, media companies need to, unsurprisingly, innovate….

 

……In a nutshell, this sums up the ludicrous move by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and local news publishers, which have demanded that Facebook and Google cough up cash for any news content that the digital giants share across their platforms. And with Google agreeing to play ball last week, it looks like these demands are being met.

 

While some might regard this move as a digital giant throwing a lifeline to a drowning local news industry, other, more cynically minded people – myself included – might see this a move as one developed by Google’s PR department to win the hearts and minds of stakeholders. Putting Google’s motives to one side, there’s a risk that this is yet another nail in the coffin, an admission of defeat by local publishers who are no longer able to successfully compete….

 

The problem with handouts

 

Welcome to 2020, and after years of lobbying, the government has decided that if the news publishers of Australia cannot build a sustainable digital advertising revenue model, the two tech platforms will be strong-armed into footing the bill……

 

…….The numbers from the digital giants are probably even larger today. At least 50% of all news traffic is directed to Australian news sites via third parties. If Australian news providers did not have these two platforms, their traffic would be cut in half, and they would generate half the ad revenue. Any brand or marketer wanting to get that type of traffic to their site would pay Facebook and Google big money – in fact they do – yet Australian publishers think they should be paid for the privilege. It makes no sense.

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, business communication, consumer behaviour, digital literacy, digital marketing, digital or e-consumer behaviour, media, political strategy, populist politics, social media marketing and WOM word of mouth.

 

Media on China and Wuhan Virus – Critical Analysis or Political PR?

Australian government including the Prime Minister, supported by senior journalists, have been following the Trump administration and pointing the finger at the PRC or Chinese government regarding causes and management of the Wuhan Coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak. Has Australian media been neutral while applying critical analysis to the trade situation, some think not.

Journalists on the ramparts

HAMISH MCDONALD

20 MAY 2020

 

Has the press gallery forgotten we’re not at war with China?

 

Another triumph for Canberra and the Morrison government’s deft and resolute diplomacy, it would seem. Support for an inquiry into Covid-19 from more than half of the 194 countries at this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva was “a major strategic victory for Australia.”

 

So declared a story by two members of the Sydney Morning Herald’s press gallery bureau based on “sources familiar with the negotiations” over the draft resolution.

 

Once again, Australia saves the world. Yet a closer examination of the emerging resolution, which Chinese president Xi Jinping also supported, reveals it to be nothing like as strong as the original proposal from Scott Morrison’s office.

 

Recall 22 April, when multiple news outlets carried reports from their Canberra correspondents that Australia was calling for reform of the World Health Organization. If necessary, went the plan, independent investigators would be given “weapons inspector powers” to investigate the source of disease outbreaks.

 

“Just got off the phone with US President @realDonaldTrump,” Morrison tweeted the same day. “We had a very constructive discussion on our health responses to #COVID19 and the need to get our market-led and business-centred economies up and running again.”

 

But almost immediately it became clear that Canberra was way out on its own. Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson and other leaders phoned by Morrison demurred at the timing and nature of the proposal.

 

China already had its hackles up after foreign minister Marise Payne’s earlier floating of an “independent investigation,” which a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman described as “political manoeuvring.”……

 

….. This threat of “trade retaliation” then blew up into a major theme of Canberra politics the following week. And instead of cool rationality, a wave of patriotic flag-waving took hold of senior members of the press gallery, urged on by China hawks in Canberra’s military-industrial circles.

 

The latter notably include Peter Jennings, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, financed by the defence department, military suppliers including Lockheed Martin, BAE, Northrop Grumman, Thales and Raytheon, and the governments of Japan and Taiwan. It was time for Australia to diversify its trade away from China, he wrote. Just like that.

 

Business leaders and vice-chancellors who tried to point out that the finger-pointing at China could have economic consequences were derided as traitorous. They “can’t handle the truth” about China, said Channel Nine’s Chris Uhlmann. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher described Cheng’s rather mild words as “gangsterism.”

 

“Cheng’s warning laid bare what those in political, diplomatic and foreign affairs circles have always known about the regime in Beijing,” wrote the Australian Financial Review’s Phillip Coorey. “It was a glass-jawed bully that viewed bilateral relations as one-way affairs that should be skewed in Beijing’s interest.”

 

Iron ore tycoon Andrew Forrest’s springing of a Chinese consul on a press conference with health minister Greg Hunt, “followed by a similar attempt at appeasement” by Kerry Stokes (who has the Caterpillar machinery franchise for China), “came as no surprise to those in the know,” wrote Coorey.

 

As James Curran, Sydney University’s specialist on the US alliance, observed, “It is one thing to be rightfully wary of the brand of Chinese exceptionalism espoused by Xi Jinping, quite another to thrash about in mouth-foaming fulmination.”…….

 

…….As the editorial board of the Australian National University’s East Asia Forum, headed by trade expert Peter Drysdale, noted, there was already “furious agreement” — including from Beijing — about the need for an investigation of Covid-19……

 

….Trump is clearly out to scapegoat China for his own mishandling of the pandemic as he approaches the November elections. Poking Beijing further on trade and technology has already started……

 

……… Rather than preparing for war or butting directly against Chinese communism, Smith advocates “patience, no quick judgements, and no emotionalism.” Which doesn’t make a good media story.

 

Instead of constantly looking for what “the Chinese” are up to, our journalists could take a step back and learn some lessons from this latest episode. They could go to Hartcher’s own recent Quarterly Essay, Red Flag, which concluded with the reasonable point that despite the pervasiveness of China’s political influence-buying efforts and its United Front Work within the diaspora, Australians can have faith in their institutions’ capacity to resist subversion by a regime that, unlike the Soviet Union of the 1940s, has no local following.

 

They could consider that the 1.2 million people of Chinese descent in Australia came here mostly to get away from the People’s Republic, not replicate it. They, and the 230,000 students normally resident here, are a threat more to the communist system than ours, especially if we upgrade the student experience. (Melbourne University’s Fran Martin has found that a majority go home disappointed, not having made Australian friends.)

 

They could consider that our own expertise, along with that of friends like the United States, Canada, Europe, South Korea, Japan and Israel, at least keeps us up with the level of cyber espionage coming out of China and Russia.

 

In short, we are not at war and we don’t need to match the “patriotic” journalism of Beijing’s intemperate Global Times.

 

Critical Media Analysis from the ABC Media Watch:

 

Virus lab theory. Where did COVID-19 come from? And is the Wuhan Institute of Virology to blame?

 

Wuhan lab dossier.  The Daily Telegraph’s “bombshell” Wuhan lab dossier is dismissed by the intelligence community, with claims it was leaked by the US embassy.

 

For more articles and blogs about Asian century, Australian immigration, critical thinking, economics, global trade, populist politics, media, Australian politics, white nationalism and Covid-19 click through.

Political Parties Hollowed Out and Identity Issues

Australian politics as with Trump’s America and U.K.’s Brexit has become hollowed out with declining membership, less organic policy development, more reliance upon both external policy development by trans national think tanks and promotion or opposition by media or PR.

An enforced focus upon immigration, population growth and refugees, or white nationalist issues, may risk bi-partisan support and ignore the immigrant heritage of Australia versus aggressive demands for a WASP white Anglo Saxon protestant and Irish Catholic culture to rule.

Brexit, Trump and Australian politics have obsessed about immigration.

Populist Politics and White Nationalism (Image copyright Pexels).

This is especially so among the less diverse above median age vote in regions, while Australia’s elites in business, government, politics and media also reflect the same mono culture or lack of diversity.

Further, positives and benefits of immigration are seldom cited and especially the leveraging of temporary resident churn over; whether students, backpackers or temporary workers who are net financial contributors supporting the tax base, vs. ageing and increasing proportion of pensioners or retirees in the permanent population.

From The Lowy Institute:

Hollowed out, but not unhinged

Judith Brett

The scenario put forth in Sam Roggeveen’s “Our very own Brexit” runs counter to the major parties’ economic realities.

Sam Roggeveen has written a lively essay on the current state of Australian federal politics, centred on the hypothetical scenario that one of the two major parties takes an anti-immigration policy to an election, overturning Australia’s post-war bipartisan commitment to immigration to gain political advantage. Such an election would be a referendum on continuing population growth, and bring to a halt our cultural diversification and our integration into Asia, which is now the largest source of permanent new settlers.

It sounds unlikely, but as Roggeveen argues, both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump were unlikely, rogue events that have overturned political assumptions. His scenario is not a prediction, he stresses, but a plausible, worst-case scenario arising from the current state of our political parties.

Our two major parties have become “hollowed out”, Roggeveen argues, untethered from their traditional social bases in class-based interests. Party membership and party loyalty have declined, leaving a more volatile and skittish electorate potentially vulnerable to the anti-immigration siren song of a party desperate to gain electoral advantage.

There are two parts to this argument. The first is that the parties have become hollowed out; the second that it is plausible that one of the major parties break the bipartisan support for the migration program.

First, the evidence is clear for the decline in rusted-on party loyalty.

However, Roggeveen does not, to my mind, have a sufficiently nuanced understanding of the reasons for this decline and writes as if it is mainly the result of a deficient political class.

In the early 20th century, when our current party system took shape, it made social and economic sense to have two parties based on two class blocks. Working and middle class, employee and employer, labour and capital – these spoke both to people’s everyday experience and sense of themselves and to competing economic interests. This is no longer the case. More than a hundred years later, Australia’s society and its economy are much more complex.

In developing their policies, parties have to broker compromises among various competing interests, and this undertaking is much harder today. To take a stark example: the problem Labor has in developing policies responsive both to its traditional union base and to the middle-class social democrats who flocked to the party with Gough Whitlam. Compared with the early 20th century, lines of class division have blurred, and new lines of difference have been politicised: gender, race, ethnicity, attitude to nature, and, after the fading of sectarianism, religion again. If the parties are failing, it is in part because the task of uniting disparate constituencies is harder…..

……Second, I do not find it plausible that one of the major parties would break the bipartisan consensus on immigration.

A minor party might succeed with an anti-immigration policy, but neither major party could afford the electoral risk. The 2016 Census reported that 49% of the Australian population was either foreign-born or had at least one foreign-born parent. Not all of these people will be on the electoral roll, but all who are citizens will be, and once on the roll, they will have to vote.

Because of compulsory voting, Australian parties do not need highly emotional and divisive policies to get out the vote, and to support them carries considerable risks. Both Brexit and the election of Trump occurred in polities with voluntary voting, where it makes electoral sense to risk courting an alienated minority. There is no doubt there is a nativist faction in Australia that would support a stop to immigration, but Australian elections are won and lost in the middle, which is occupied by increasing numbers of foreign-born voters and their children.

Also holding the major parties to their consensus on immigration is its contribution to the economy. Australia’s recent sluggish economic growth would be even slower were it not for migration. The housing and retail sectors in particular would be sharply affected by its halt. Our two major political parties may be untethered from their historical social bases, but they are not unhinged from contemporary economic reality.’

 

For more articles about populist politics, demographics, immigration and white nationalism click through.

 

Language Learning, English and White Nativism

Language learning in Australia by monolingual English speakers is hardly encouraged while for many descendants of non-English Speaking Background (NESB) immigrants, their knowledge of their parents’ language is declining.  However, not only does language allow access to one’s own cultural background or preservation of heritage, learners can also do the same in a smaller world, with other benefits in outlook, creativity, soft skills, business communication and development etc..

Australians of non English speaking background losing their ancestors' language.

Language Diversity Other than English (Image copyright Pexels)

Legislating for English

One would argue that this is not a passive organic process.  Till the ‘90s multiculturalism and other languages were encouraged e.g. Hamer Liberal conservative government in 1970s Victoria.  This was till the Howard government adopted white nationalist or WASP policies creating antipathy towards other languages, banning the word ‘multiculturalism’ in the PM’s Office and promoting English only, influenced by US organisations related to John Tanton, the ‘racist architect of the modern anti-immigration’ movement.

The main organisation was ProEnglish which included Tanton on its Board of Directors, lobbying Washington, and described by SPLC as:

Anti-immigrant hate group ProEnglish visits White HouseSince 1994, ProEnglish has pushed to have English declared the official language of the United States through legislative means. The latest attempt at the federal level, HR 997, the English Language Unity Act, was introduced in 2017 by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), one of the most outspoken anti-immigrant members of Congress. ProEnglish has also pushed for similar legislation at the state level, where 32 states have some form of official English measures on the books.’

Australia has been called ‘a graveyard of languages’. These people are bucking the trend

ABC Radio National

By Masako Fukui for Tongue Tied and Fluent on Earshot

Gaby Cara speaks to her nonna in fluent Italian, but only because she spent a year in a Tuscany when she was nine.

“We were in this tiny little village, and because I was so young, I just picked up Italian really quickly,” Gaby says.

For her dad Bruno, a second-generation Italian-Australian, this was a dream come true.

“I always wanted the kids to experience the culture, and to learn the language at a level where they could communicate freely,” he says.

Gaby and her sister Alexia, who was five at the time, attended the local school in picturesque Panzano.

Alexia soaked up the new language “like a sponge”.

“She had a real Tuscan inflection. It was actually beautiful,” Bruno says.

“Roots migration”, or going to the homeland for an immersive cultural and linguistic experience, is how the Cara family managed to buck a rather alarming trend.

Losing your language

Italians are losing their language at a faster rate than any other ethnic group in Australia.

In the last 15 years or so there’s been a drop of around 80,000 people speaking Italian at home.

According to Census data, there were almost 354,000 people who spoke Italian at home in 2001. By 2016, that had fallen to around 272,000.

The Greeks share a similar migration trajectory to the Italians, but “there are some factors that have helped the Greeks maintain their language more,” says Antonia Rubino, senior lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Sydney.

“One is the lack of this distinction between dialect and standard Italian.”

Many post-war Italian migrants spoke dialect as their first language, and often did not pass on Italian to the second generation, Dr Rubino explains.

“The Greeks also had the church,” she says.

The ‘monolingual mindset’?

This attitude is reflected in our education system.

“Australia is one of the most multilingual countries in the world,” says Ken Cruickshank of the University of Sydney.

Yet, language education is not seen as a high priority and “languages are not part of the core curriculum in any state apart from Victoria in the primary schools,” he says.

In fact, he says, “we come lowest of all OECD countries in the provision and uptake of languages”.

The result is that a bilingual child has a five in six chance of losing their heritage language by the time they finish high school, according to Dr Cruickshank.

Or put simply, multilingual kids go to school to become monolingual, in the majority of cases in Australia.

This monolingual mindset is totally out of sync with our multilingual reality — around 300 languages are spoken in Australia on any given day.

There are two ways people can lose the languages they speak.

The first is through linguistic colonisation, which is what’s happened to many Indigenous and minority languages around the world.

The second is linguistic assimilation.

That’s when immigrants lose their languages as they gradually shift towards the dominant language, English — itself a migrant language….

…..And that raises an important question for all of us living in multicultural Australia.

If language is key to people’s cultural identity, doesn’t it make sense that we value our rich multilingualism?

Gaby appreciates how important knowing Italian is.

Her language not only connects her to her nonna, but also gives her an understanding of different cultures.

“When we were younger, we didn’t think anything of going to Italy,” she says.

She’s now 30, and understands that living in Italy as a kid was also about experiencing a different culture, which is why she’s determined to pass Italian on to the next generation.

That would mean that four generations of Caras speak Italian — a small yet significant contribution to countering the image of Australia as a “graveyard of languages.”

 

For more blogs and posts about learning theory and the promotion of white nationalism click through.

Hans Rosling – The facts and ignorance about population growth

Featured

Don’t Panic – Hans Rosling Showing the Facts About Population

The world might not be as bad as you might believe!

“Don’t Panic” is a one-hour long documentary produced by Wingspan Productions and broadcasted on BBC on the 7th of November 2013.

‘With the world’s population at 7 billion and still growing we often look at the future with dread. In Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population, world famous Swedish statistical showman Professor Hans Rosling presents a different view…

… We face huge challenges in terms of food, resources and climate change but at the heart of Rosling’s statistical tour-de-force is the message that the world of tomorrow is a much better place than we might imagine.

World population growth has peaked and is in decline.

Population Growth Decline (Image copyright World Bank).

 

Professor Rosling reveals that the global challenge of rapid population growth, the so-called population explosion, has already been overcome. In just 50 years the average number of children born per woman has plummeted from 5 to just 2.5 and is still falling fast. This means that in a few generations’ time, world population growth will level off completely. And in what Rosling calls his ‘Great British Ignorance Survey’ he discovers that people’s perceptions of the world often seem decades out of date.

Highlights from Ignorance survey in the UK

Highlights from the first UK survey re ignorance of global trends. A preliminary summary by Hans Rosling, Gapminder Foundation, 3 Nov, 2013

Gapminder’s mission is to fight devastating ignorance about the world with a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand. We started the Ignorance Project to measure what people know and don´t know about major global trends.

The results indicate that the UK population severely underestimates the progress in education, health and fertility reduction in the world as a whole and in countries like Bangladesh, whereas they severely overestimate how much the richest countries have changed to renewable energy. It is noteworthy that the results from those with university degrees are not better than the average results, if anything they are worse. The results from UK are similar to those obtained by a 2013 survey in Sweden.

The aim of these surveys is to understand how deep and how widespread the public ignorance of major global development trends is in different countries. We are investigating the knowledge about the order of magnitude and speed of change of the most important aspects of the life conditions of the total world population. The first survey covered some major trends in demography, health, education and energy.

  1. In the year 2000 the total number of children (age 0-14) in the world reached 2 billion. How many do UN experts estimate there will be by the year 2100?
  2. What % of adults in the world today are literate, i.e. can read and write?
  3. What is the life expectancy in the world as a whole today?
  4. In the last 30 years the proportion of the World population living in extreme poverty has…
  5. What % of total world energy generated comes from solar and wind power? Is it approximately
  6. What is the life expectancy in Bangladesh today?
  7. How many babies do women have on average in Bangladesh?

 

Conclusions

Question 1: The answers reveal very deep ignorance about population growth. Only 7% know that the total number of children (below age 15) already has stopped increasing. Almost half of the respondents think there will be twice as many children in the world by the end of the century compared to the forecast of the UN experts.

Questions 2 and 3: Answers show that the respondents think the literacy rate and the life expectancy of the world population is around 50% and 60 years (median values), respectively. But these figures correspond to the how the world was more than 30 years ago.

Question 4: The results show that just 10% are aware of that the United Nations’ first Millennium Development Goal, to halve the world poverty rate, has already been met, even before the target year 2015. More than half think the poverty rate has increased. It is important to understand that random guessing would have yielded 33% correct answers. The result is therefore not due to lack of knowledge, rather it must be due to preconceived ideas. The results strongly indicate that the UK public has failed to be informed about the progress towards the first of the UN´s Millennium Development Goals.

Question 5: Two thirds of the respondents severely overestimate the present role of new renewable sources of energy in world energy production. The present proportion is close to 1%.

Questions 6 and 7: The respondents reveal a deep ignorance about the progress of Bangladesh during the last two to three decades. Only about one in ten know that life expectancy in Bangladesh today is 70 years and that women on average have 2.5 babies.

 

For more articles about population growth and immigration click through.