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Twitter recently had an interesting position for a journalist. Other tech companies also hire journalists such as Tumblr, Google, Facebook and Flipboard. The latter hired the tech journalist Josh Quittner from Time Inc some years ago. All this has given the journalism business hopes: May be social media and aggregators can compensate a bit for the many lost journalistic jobs in the traditional media business?
Sorry, but no. It won’t. Twitter and Co do not hire journalists to produce and deliver original journalistic content. It is way too expensive and they are tech companies, not publicists, though it might sound so when you read their missions (see below).
Tech companies hire journalists to get more journalistic content on their platforms. But the content should, they believe, be produced and financed by others than themselves. Journalistic content is just as important for social media, as it was when Google built up its search platform. Journalistic content is ideal, as it spurs activity and engagement and in the end profit, because articles are extremely sharable.
In other words, Twitter and others are hiring journalists, who know the traditional media world, so they can help traditional journalists use social media even more – use their platforms and their tools – and establish partnerships with the content providers, the publicists.
In many ways it is more sales positions than journalism. They are to sell Twitter and others to traditional media.
And it goes pretty will. Many English-speaking media deliver content to Flipboard and share ad revenues. Almost all traditional media all over the world share their content on Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus and Tumblr to get more traffic.
The challenge for traditional media is that it is social media who gains most of the partnerships.
Social media has no costs producing expensive content (Google has started paying for some content on YouTube) and they deliver what is so easy to deliver: Traffic. It is part of their DNA.
Traditional media gets traffic as payment. And they have a harder and harder time to capitalize on traffic as they are not technologically clever enough to compete with the real ad-money machines: search and social.
A good deal? May be. If that was all there was in the partnership. But there is more to it. Traditional media is also giving away their customer data to social media. Many traditional media sites have a social plugin on their homepages, eg on Facebook, so a user can see, how many of their friends (and exactly who) have liked a given article. It might enhance some people’s desire to read more, but traditional media is sending personal data – everything you read – back to Facebook. It is extremely valuable data for big data companies like Facebook, and in the long run it is a strategic mistake along the lines of giving away your content for free.
If social media one day wanted to finance and produce original content, it will not be with human journalists. Then they would use robots, software who can use all the data, they have collected for free. We already now see robots or algorithms deciding how to curate your front page.
So it there was one thing traditional media should to today, it is to stop giving away their customer data to social media (they can still make their content shareable, which is important for reach) and in stead work together in order to establish more equal partnerships with social media platforms.
“To make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.”
“To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
“To instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.”
First published (only in Danish) in Journalisten 6.6.2013
Tags:customer data journalism journalistjob kundedata partnerships plugins publicister social media sociale medier
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