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The unchecked viral spread of untrue, exaggerated, and wildly partisan pieces is forcing a long overdue debate about the rights and responsibilities of both news organizations and social media platforms.Safeguarding the independence of good journalism as it becomes a subset of social media is a critical task for both publishers and platforms.The hope was that the convergence of social media and journalism would create a superior version or hybrid of both; a rich network populated by useful and timely information, which could be easily augmented, shared, and commented on by a highly engaged population.Instead, the worst elements of both worlds have combined, tainting the old media and the new.This report, part of an ongoing study by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, charts the convergence between journalism and platform companies.In the span of 20 years, journalism has experienced three significant changes in business and distribution models: the switch from analog to digital, the rise of the social web, and now the dominance of mobile.This last phase has seen large technology companies dominate the markets for attention and advertising and has forced news organizations to rethink their processes and structures.
There is a rapid takeover of traditional publishers’ roles by companies including Facebook, Snapchat, Google, and Twitter that shows no sign of slowing, and which raises serious questions over how the costs of journalism will be supported.
This was presented as a new opportunity for publishers to be enriched by a Facebook innovation.
Many in the room likely felt empathy with the watermelon, as their businesses were being squeezed slowly to the point of implosion by external forces beyond their control. Seven months later, it was more than watermelons that had exploded all over Facebook.
Until recently, the default position of platforms (and notably Facebook) has been to avoid the expensive responsibilities and liabilities of being publishers.
The platform companies, led by Facebook and Google, have been proactive in starting initiatives focused on improving the news environment and issues of news literacy.
Social media and search companies are not purely neutral platforms, but in fact edit, or “curate,” the information they present.