What social media needs to learn from traditional media

October 10, Year 1999, this Los Angeles Times Published a special issue of its Sunday magazine, which specifically introduced the opening of the Staples Center Arena in downtown Los Angeles.Obviously unknown era The newspaper’s editors, including the writers and editors who unite the magazine, have reached an agreement with the owners of the Staples Center to profit from the ads sold by the magazine.

After the staff learned of the arrangement, they resisted. More than 300 journalists and editors signed a petition asking the publisher to apologize, and she did it.In a comprehensive 12 parts AutopsyAccording to the newspaper’s media critic David Shaw, “Many era The news editorial department regards the Staples incident as the tip of the moral iceberg, which is a very obvious and ugly ominous omen-it is imperative to increase profits and promote stock prices, which may undermine the newspaper’s news quality and integrity. And reputation. “This transaction violates one of the most sacred principles in serious journalism, and is sometimes referred to as a “firewall” or separation of church and state: the business sector should not influence editorial decisions.

In the decades since the Staples Center incident, things have changed a lot. Social media has become the main forum for discourse and news dissemination.The leaders of social media companies insist that they are Not a publisher But it is just a technical channel for user-generated content.However at the same time they Proudly advertise They play a key role in modern communication and information acquisition.The decisions they make about which materials should be seen by whom have a greater impact than anything else this Los Angeles Times I can’t even dream of it.

But the social media industry has yet to clarify how to strike a balance between the pursuit of advertising revenue and other social values. Especially Facebook, it seems that there is nothing like the separation of church and state.An explosive investigation series this Wall Street Journal Last week provided new evidence of what happens when there is nothing to stop the business from overriding the quality control staff. In one case, Magazine Report, Researchers within the company studied certain changes to the News Feed ranking algorithm that are designed to increase “meaningful social interaction.”When these changes were introduced, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had Publicly announced They are the “right thing”, even if they sacrifice user engagement and time spent on the app. However, the researchers found that these features, including amplifying the posts deemed most likely to be reposted, inadvertently eventually added “misinformation, toxic, and violent content.”Based on reviewed documents MagazineWhen a leader of Facebook’s integrity department proposed a solution to the company’s business unit, Zuckerberg, he refused to implement it. He doesn’t want to sacrifice user engagement.

In response to such reports, Facebook pointed out that it has increased invest In recent years, the security and content are moderate.This week, it announced in a press release that it “employed 40,000 safety and security employees, a four-fold increase from 35,000 in 2019 and a four-fold increase from 10,000 in 2016.” ( By the way, this is approximately one employee for every 71,000 users.) However, as Magazine with other report It has been repeatedly shown that at critical moments, these teams will be rejected because the executives responsible for the company’s development and lobbying business will make decisions about security, content review, and law enforcement. In other words, Facebook needs its own version of the news firewall.

In fact, the lessons social media companies should learn from traditional media are much broader. The most interesting thing about the separation of state and church in journalism is that it is self-imposed. There are no federal regulations that require newspapers to protect their advertising business from reporting decisions. This is a value formed in the 1920s, when American journalists promised to report objectively and without party affiliation.As the historian Michael Schudson explained in his book Discovery News: The Social History of American NewspapersThis is a critical moment for news professionalization, because reporters and editors “accept the definition of what it means to be independent of the country and the market”.In theory, nothing can stop Jeff Bezos from interfering how this Washington postWhat he owns covers the Amazon he founded. In practice, he will risk a wave of resignation and the value of his assets will be greatly diluted. postals brand. No self-respecting reporter wants readers to think they are bidding for sponsors. (By all accounts, Bezos has been careful to let go since he bought the newspaper in 2013.)

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