What you need to know:
- Access to filtered news on social media also affects business interactions through advertisements and shortens the shelf life of news articles.
The scribes, lately described as the media, have always played an indispensable role in the development of civilisations. It has taken the role of the recorder of history. It has informed, educated and entertained.
More importantly, it has been a voice for the voiceless, prompted reforms, laws, constitutions and actions that led to better lives for mankind. Thanks to it, retrogressive traditions and unjust practices like pre-birth gender selections have been abandoned.
It is the guardian of mankind. The wielder of a pen, notebook and camera has made wielders of power and heavy weaponry to think twice before launching calamities on humanity and all life.
Australia’s Facebook users woke up to a rude shock on Tuesday last week, when they were unable to access news content from their communication devices. In a move described by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as “arrogant and disappointing”, the social media giant blocked all content from news media.
Official health and emergency content, even Covid-19 information, was blocked. News content from Australian media was also unavailable to the world on the platform. The resulting uproar has demonstrated the pole position that social media platforms occupy as a means of news delivery.
Facebook took this action to protest against a proposed legislation that is before Parliament seeking to have social media platforms pay news publishers for content shown on their apps.
Hand-held devices, telecom data vendors and social media platforms have replaced the new stand and paper copy as the tool for delivering the news. Access to filtered news on social media also affects business interactions through advertisements and shortens the shelf life of news articles.
It also limits readers’ feedback, which happens through letters and comments and availability of past issues in libraries and other archives.
News gathering and publishing is a critical phase of the information cycle and it is inconceivable that a platform can be allowed to deliver news without paying for its collection and publishing.
Social media at first appeared as a convenient, timely and advanced method of disseminating news but it is now killing the media industry by making access to their content free and cherry-picking what to make available.
It reminds me of the hunter who took a cute leopard cub home and reared it into a monster that would later maul him. Other governments should emulate Australia and make social media platforms and telco data vendors pay for news. Google has taken the initiative and signed agreements with leading publishers and will pay for their content.
For a start, it has paid an undisclosed sum to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for its content. Let us save the media to continue its critical mission in the evolution of the world and life.
John Nyaga, Murang’a