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Social media and search companies are not purely neutral platforms, but in fact edit, or “curate,” the information they present.Platforms for their part have started to acknowledge the role they play in news provision.The answer, it turned out, was two Buzz Feed employees placing rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded on Facebook Live video.At its peak, the watermelon experiment had a live audience of 807,000 simultaneous views.Over 62 percent of the US population gets news from some form of social media, with Facebook the dominant source.The length of time that people spend looking at their screens and the volume of personal data collected by these companies have created a completely new operating environment in which journalism must now function.However, more structural questions remain unaddressed. If news organizations are to remain autonomous entities in the future, there will have to be a reversal in information consumption trends and advertising expenditure or a significant transfer of wealth from technology companies and advertisers.Some publishers are seeing a “Trump Bump” with subscriptions and donations rising post-election, and there is evidence of renewed efforts of both large and niche publishers to build audiences and revenue streams away from the intermediary platform businesses.
Findings In the wake of the election, we have an immediate opportunity to turn the attention focused on tech power and journalism into action.
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.
he influence of social media platforms and technology companies is having a greater effect on American journalism than even the shift from print to digital.
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.
However, it is too soon to tell if this represents a systemic change rather than a cyclical ripple. Should they continue the costly business of maintaining their own publishing infrastructure, with smaller audiences but complete control over revenue, brand, and audience data? They’re the gateway to the audience, and they determine what they will allow and what they won’t. —Kim Lau, Senior Vice President & Head of Business Development of In April 2016, on a windswept pier in San Francisco, thousands of engineers and executives crowded into the Fort Mason conference center to attend the annual Facebook developer conference.