Digital Challenges to Traditional News Media Models

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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.

White Nationalist Extremism – Mainstreamed by Politicians and Media

After the tragic white nationalist extremist event in Christchurch’s mosques by an Australian extremist white nationalist gunman, we have observed attempts by local and international politicians and media to explain.  However, they are also guilty of propagating or encouraging white Nativism, white nationalism and nowadays promoting ‘western civilisation’ for attention, power, influence over policy making and elections while demonising diversity and multiculturalism.

White nationalist extremism encouraged by mainstream politicians and media

Diversity and Multiculturalism (Image copyright Pexels).

In past decades, emanating from the US (according to Nancy MacLean author of ‘Democracy in Chains’), has been radical right libertarianism for corporates e.g. Kochs et al. and/or fossil fuel related sector to deny global warming, attacking science and education, demanding lower taxes, smaller government etc., while co-opting ageing conservative Christian evangelicals and white nationalists to vote the right way aka Trump and Brexit.

However, dog whistling and divisive narratives focused upon non-WASPs and non-Europeans, are also symptoms of a long-standing ideology, i.e. eugenics, which while being one and the same, has re-emerged amongst politicians, media and voters of the right in the Anglo world and parts of Europe (but described benignly as an electoral tactic), after becoming unpopular due to the Nazis’ experiments and holocaust.

This ideology, or power structure, is manifested and presented in multiple ways and media in Australia with refugees and ‘boat people’, US with Trump and UK with Brexit; back grounded by old WASP culture and isolationism.  Manifested as raw racism or promoting ‘whiteness’, ‘final solutions’ (to immigration), ‘globalisation’ (of people), promotion of border control or security, withdrawal from trade agreements, alarm round ‘high immigration’ or ‘exponential population growth’, use of offshore detention (camps/prisons), back grounded by criticism of ‘refugees’, Islam, and even local minorities whether women, recipients of welfare, LGBT, workers, indigenous or youth.

In addition to the poisonous ideology,  masked by dog whistling and proxy issues, is the transnational and systematic nature of the ‘architecture’ via academia, politicians and media (‘assembly line’ according to author of Dark Money, Jane Mayer) to normalise and spread the negative messaging; funded by (mostly) US radical right libertarians, oligarchs and selected think tanks.

Key architect, funded by oligarchs et al., was the recently deceased John Tanton, described in a New York Times article as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’, linked with Paul Ehrlich, Club of Rome, ZPG Zero Population Growth (supported by Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie etc. foundations), Population Matters UK, Sustainable Australia, white evangelical Christians, white nationalists and his US Inc. based network now influences (or even writes) White House immigration policy.

‘Tanton’s own Social Contract Press has been influential: ‘The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.

Not only had Tanton also supported the white Australia policy, liaised with ‘Sustainable Population Australia’ and its elite ‘environmentally minded’ local patrons, his TSCP also published and reviewed one of the most infamous white nationalist screeds which influences the controversial Steve Bannon et al., ‘Camp of the Saints’ (reviewed by Australian Academic Katherine Betts), from Sutherland in The Guardian 2004 ‘Far right or far wrong?’:

The book currently generating the most chatter is Jean Raspail’s Camp of Saints. First published in 1973, in France, no British publisher (a gutless crew) has been brave enough to take it on. In America, publication was sponsored, in 1985, by the ultra-right (ultrawrong), anti-immigration Laurel Foundation, under whose aegis it now sells like hot cakes.

Camp of Saints foretells an imminent “swamping” of Europe by illegals from the orient. Forget passports or border controls: they just hijack tankers and come, an armada of subcontinental sub-humanity: a brown tsunami. Europe is so enervated by liberalism and postcolonial guilt and depopulated by “family planning” that the alien tide (“with a stench of latrines”) just laps over the continent. A small resistance band (the “Saints”) is liquidated – by the French government. The immigrants come, they settle, they rape, they steal. Above all, they breed. Raspail calls it “the Calcutta solution” – genocide by stealth. Europe becomes a Dark Continent.

Raspail’s loathsome novel has recently achieved something like respectability. The author has a website and has been hailed “the Frantz Fanon of the White Race”. Camp of Saints articulates a western nightmare fashionable among neo-conservatives. Civilisations won’t “clash”. The developed world (and in the Middle East, Israel) will simply be out spawned into extinction.

What we now observe is frantic dissembling by most conservative politicians desperate to separate themselves from extremists, after their own unethical and divisive Nativist utterances or dog whistling from the past and present.

 

 

Ageing Democracy, Nativism and Populism

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Liberal democracies in western world need to make sure they do not become populist gerontocracies with changing demographics creating elderly ‘Gerrymandering’ where influence and numbers of older voters (with short term horizons) increasing proportionally over younger generations with longer term interests but less voice and influence.

Western world electorates are ageing and impacting democracy

Ageing Demographics, Democracy and Populism (Image copyright Pexels)

From Alan Stokes of Fairfax round 2016 elections:

It’s on for old and old: younger voters don’t stand a chance

One startling statistic shows why 65+ voters hold all the power at this election – and it will only get worse for the young’uns.

This election will not be decided by modern issues or fashionable personalities. It will not be aimed at the nation’s future. It will be about living in the past.

The 2016 election will be decided more than any other by Australia’s elderly.

We have seen a surge in the share of voters aged 65 and over – wartime children and now baby boomers, many of whom once burnt bras, voted for Whitlam, had a day off work when Alan Bond won the America’s Cup in 1983 but then backed John Howard, pocketed huge superannuation tax breaks from the mining boom, banked capital gains from home ownership and negative gearing, and can afford to say now that 70 is the new 50……

…One startling statistic defines this reversal of the 1960s-70s-80s generation gap.

Since Kevin07 rode youthful exuberance to victory nine years ago, the number of enrolled voters aged 18-24 has increased 7.9 per cent, reflecting some improvement in encouraging younger people to enrol.

But the number of enrolled voters aged 65 and over has increased 34 per cent.

Yes, oldies are out-growing young’uns by a ratio of more than four to one….

…As I wrote last week, the youth have good reason to be revolting. The 65+ voter demographic makes up 22 per cent of the vote this time – more than twice the 10.6 per cent for 18- to 24-year-olds….

…..These revelations are not intended to deny the elderly their voice. Rather, they raise questions about the morality of voting for self-interest when you will not be around to carry the burden of your decisions.

The median projection from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest the numbers of Australians aged 65+ will have increased by 84.8 per cent between 2011 and 2031. The proportion of the population 65+ will have increased from 13.8 per cent to 18.7 per cent….

….And what if parties realise they can win elections by kow-towing to the older demographic and downplaying issues that matter to younger Australians? We have seen this already on same-sex marriage, a republic, climate change and housing affordability….

….Expect to see more youthful candidates revolting against the demographic demons. We can only hope they can get through to older voters because the future belongs to the children, not the parents and grandparents.

Such is life …

 

Meanwhile in Europe:

Is Pensioner Populism Here to Stay?

Oct 10, 2018 | EDOARDO CAMPANELLA
MILAN – The right-wing populism that has emerged in many Western
democracies in recent years could turn out to be much more than a blip on the
political landscape. Beyond the Great Recession and the migration crisis, both of
which created fertile ground for populist parties, the aging of the West’s
population will continue to alter political power dynamics in populists’ favor.

It turns out that older voters are rather sympathetic to nationalist movements.
Older Britons voted disproportionately in favor of leaving the European Union,
and older Americans delivered the US presidency to Donald Trump. Neither the
Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland nor Fidesz in Hungary would be in power
without the enthusiastic support of the elderly. And in Italy, the League has
succeeded in large part by exploiting the discontent of Northern Italy’s seniors.
Among today’s populists, only Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally (formerly
the National Front) – and possibly Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – relies on younger
voters…

…Most likely, a growing sense of insecurity is pushing the elderly into the populists’
arms. Leaving aside country-specific peculiarities, nationalist parties all promise
to stem global forces that will affect older people disproportionately.
For example, immigration tends to instill more fear in older voters, because they
are usually more attached to traditional values and self-contained communities.
Likewise, globalization and technological progress often disrupt traditional or
legacy industries, where older workers are more likely to be employed.

At best we are observing very cynical politics, influencers and media endeavouring to confuse, create fear and anxiety amongst older demographics round populist themes such as immigration, globalisation, nativism and identity.

For more blog articles about nativism, NOM net overseas migration, and demography, Click through.

 

 

 

 

Population Ageing – Populist Politics

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With ageing societies, living longer, back grounded by increasing mobility of youth and working age, are younger generations viewed as a threat and going to be disadvantaged by upper median age voting demographics, led on by Nativist and populist politicians?

‘From Project Syndicate.

Is Pensioner Populism Here to Stay?

Oct 10, 2018 EDOARDO CAMPANELLA

It is often assumed that the rise of populism in Western democracies is primarily a response to economic insecurity and anger toward privileged elites. But the fact is that neither of those sentiments can be understood without also accounting for the political consequences of population ageing.

Elderly including pensioners living longer are voting for populist leaders and against youth.

Ageing Voters and Populism versus Youth? (Image copyright Pexels).

MILAN – The right-wing populism that has emerged in many Western democracies in recent years could turn out to be much more than a blip on the political landscape. Beyond the Great Recession and the migration crisis, both of which created fertile ground for populist parties, the ageing of the West’s population will continue to alter political power dynamics in populists’ favour….

….Britons voted disproportionately in favour of leaving the European Union, and older Americans delivered the US presidency to Donald Trump. Neither the Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland nor Fidesz in Hungary would be in power without the enthusiastic support of the elderly. And in Italy, the League has succeeded in large part by exploiting the discontent of Northern Italy’s seniors. Among today’s populists, only Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally (formerly the National Front) – and possibly Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – relies on younger voters……

…Most likely, a growing sense of insecurity is pushing the elderly into the populists’ arms. Leaving aside country-specific peculiarities, nationalist parties all promise to stem global forces that will affect older people disproportionately.

For example, immigration tends to instil more fear in older voters, because they are usually more attached to traditional values and self-contained communities….

….By backing right-wing populists, older voters hope to return to a time when domestic affairs were insulated from global forces and national borders were less porous. At the heart of today’s nationalist politics is a promise to preserve the status quo – or even to restore a mythical past.

Hence, nationalist politicians often resort to nostalgic rhetoric to mobilise their older supporters. For his part, Trump has pledged to bring back jobs in the American Rust Belt, once the centre of US manufacturing. Likewise, there could be no clearer symbol of resistance to change than his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border. And his crackdown on illegal immigration and ban on travellers from predominantly Muslim countries signals his commitment to a “pure” American nation.

Similarly, in continental Europe, right-wing populists want to return to a time before the adoption of the euro and the Schengen system of passport-free travel within most of the EU. And they often appeal directly to older voters by promising to lower the retirement age and expand pension benefits (both are flagship policies of the League).

In the United Kingdom, the “Leave” campaign promised vindication for those who have been left behind in the age of globalisation. Never mind that it also touted the idea of a free and independent “Global Britain.” The Brexiteers are not known for their consistency.

At any rate, to the extent that today’s populist wave is driven by demographics, it is not likely to crest anytime soon. In greying societies, the political clout of the elderly will steadily grow; and in rapidly changing economies, their ability to adapt will decline. As a result, older voters will demand more and more socioeconomic security, and irresponsible populists will be waiting in the wings to accommodate them…..

For related blogs and articles about population growth (and decline), immigration and NOM net overseas migration click through.