Professor’s Choice: Losing the News

Feel free to comment on 1 or both articles, whichever truly turns your journalistic gears:

Article 1: Is Facebook dominating our online time?  Check out the following article and consider my qualms about it..

http://adage.com/article/the-media-guy/facebook-media-world-s-black-hole/230157/

1. Ponder: Did the bar metaphor make sense to you, or could there have been a more effective way to get the point across?

2. Consider: What did you make of this?:

“But not quite. “In one meeting with a top advertiser,” Peabody recalled, “I was asked to pull up a random Tripod member page. What I got was a picture of someone’s condom collection.”

2.a. Reflect: Does that comment reflect Facebook content accurately?

Article 2:

http://www.cjr.org/the_kicker/why_david_simon_is_wrong_about.php?page=1

Image

(http://www.stickycomics.com/wp-content/uploads/dying_medium.jpg)

In this article it seems like there are two sides to this strategy, one is the advocate for free (or at least very inexpensive) news and finding other ways to gain revenue, and the other is  the advocate for putting up a paywall online so news businesses can generate enough revenue through paid subscriptions to keep operating. What do you think about this threat to newspapers? Is it sad, inevitable, or just happening? Why is there so much panic about the newspaper business dying out? What effect would this have on environmental news reporting?

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About karelynm

23 Ann Arbor University of Michigan '14

8 Responses to “Professor’s Choice: Losing the News”

  1. Dumenco’s bar metaphor was accurate and a scary. I’ve been getting the feeling more and more that I spend more and more time on facebook and I care less and less about what’s happening on it. The bar metaphor is exactly what’s happening, we are becoming trapped in an ever-growing, black hole of useless news and personal over-sharing. I liked how Dumenco finished the article with the kicker “Your favorite bar starts to feel like a whole different sort of place when you realize that you’re more of a hostage than a patron.” Just from a journalistic standpoint, I felt he left the audience really feeling the punch of his argument. I think the comment about someone’s condom collection may be a slight exaggeration, but it’s not entirely off-base. As Dumenco said, we’re encouraged to create a shrine-like self-absorbed “timeline” of our lives. Depending on who your “friends” are, facebook could be a good-ish news source (or a sort of springboard for finding news elsewhere), but that most people are using it as a self-shrine.

  2. It may be due to the fact that I am too young to remember an “intimate” Facebook, but whether or not there are thousands or millions of users, seems a little irrelevant to me as a user. To me, this makes the overcrowded bar reference especially weak. If I can’t see anyone who is not my friend at the bar, do I even care that they’re there? Additionally, I don’t think the condom comment does a good job of describing the Facebook community I know. It seems like people today are a little more concerned with having a (slightly) more professional image on the Internet. Neither of these examples proves that advertising on Facebook does not work. I would be more convinced if statistics on Facebook use compared to other sites were explained instead of the abstract examples. I do agree, however, that paid advertisements on Facebook do not get far, at least in my experience. With that said, the article fails to account for all of the free advertising Facebook indirectly accomplishes. Users may like a dress in a friend’s picture and inquire about where it is from; news feeds often feature friends talking about a good experience at a certain restaurant; and new songs and movies are always being discussed. Sure, this type of advertisement is more unpredictable than buying an ad in a paper or on Craigslist, but it is advertisement nonetheless. In this sense, Facebook is less of a black hole and more of a murky one.

  3. As a facebook user who realizes that I spend way too much time on the sight, this article put a lot of things into perspective for me. I use to defend the website by saying it was my way of staying in touch with people that I probably wouldn’t have been able to if the website didn’t exist. The pictures, wallposts, private messages, etc…all seemed like cool ways to keep up with people’s lives, but then I started thinking about how a facebook friendship is actually pretty fake. Many users post things just to brag about how good their lives are and show off, which if they aren’t actually one of your close friends why should you care if it is only going to make you feel worse about your own life?! I read recently that having too many friends on facebook can actually make you more sad. Here is an article that talks about a study done here at the University of Michigan that proves this by saying, “When you’re browsing Facebook, you see people depict glowing positive stuff. There is a social comparison process at play” and social comparison usually only leads to negative feelings about oneself. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/facebook-making-sad-study/story?id=19975348

    Going back to the bar scene, I think it was accurate that people are spending more and more of their time there and often forgetting about the other “bars” or sites they could be on when online. I don’t, however, necessarily believe that it is a “black hole” for media. Very rarely do I talk to someone who bought something because of an ad they saw on facebook. Most of the paid advertisement on that site I have learned to ignore and no a days with all the spam going around I think people are are extra careful before clicking on random ads they see on the websites they visit.

    I agree with Taylor that I don’t think the condom quote accurately describes most facebook users and reminded me more of a myspace account or AIM. With all the privacy settings facebook has added, like the “report as spam or inappropriate” button and the fact that you have to be friends with someone to access all of their information (at least if they have their profiles on private) makes it hard for users to post inappropriate pictures of condoms are other irrelevant things.

    Overall, I think our society should be worrying less about advertisement rates lowering in the past years on facebook and more about the large amounts of time people are wasting stalking their friends pictures and timelines while at the same time socially comparing themselves to everyone.

  4. Although I found the Facebook article interesting, I do not have much else to add to the conversation regarding it. As someone who has grown up in the “Facebook generation”, where for most (if not all) of my teenage years, Facebook has been part of my life, I sometimes feel that people (usually of an older generation), tend to want to overanalyze and hyper-criticize the site. If anything, Facebook should be praised for its ability to be continuously changing and evolving.
    However, I did find the David Simon critique article very interesting in that it is actually very similar to some of the criticism directed toward Facebook and the ubiquitous amounts of advertising. I believe that there will always be a small group of individuals who will read a newspaper, in hard copy, cover to cover. However, as with many paper-based items, such as books, magazines, even notebooks for school, are going electronic. It is inevitable, and newspapers need to adapt. However, I find the paywall to be an ineffective way to make money. As consumers, we are flooded with so much information from so many different sources, if we have to pay to view an article online, then we will just go find the information somewhere else. Ads on the side of an online article doesn’t bother me–we are all so used to it (especially from Facebook), we for the most part tend to block it out. How newspapers are going to make money is from advertising, not selling of subscriptions, unless they are big named and highly reputable newspapers such at the Times. I think niche journalism will survive, and smaller, but still highly-valued newspapers and journals, will be able to sell online subscriptions, because their audience is not the general public. Its is for people looking for specialized information and news related to the topic of interest. Does anyone else agree? Or is Simon right, and free news is bad? And if it is, is there any way to stop newspapers from giving away their stories?

  5. I agree that Facebook has become a black hole – a medium, on which people can construct an image of themselves that they want others to see and recognize. It can be an effective way for people to put out a side of themselves that otherwise wouldn’t necessarily get attention in day to day conversation (music, videos, news, …condom collections). Having worked on a Facebook marketing campaign this summer, my perception of Facebook ads is a bit different than the article. The writer expressed that he felt “a bit numb, weary, and used” from all the ads on Facebook. I am not disregarding the fact that there is a sidebar of ads, and a capability to advertise within a newsfeed, but to me the ads on Facebook are much less overpowering than those we see in other aspects life. On television or radio, viewers/listeners have no choice but to sit through designated blocks of advertisements. Driving on the highway you pass enormous billboards, which takes raw materials to make the platform, paper to make the sign, and sometimes electricity to light up the advertisement at night. Facebook is chock-full with blurbs, pages, and advertisements that are not interesting or relevant to viewers. We filter through 100s of these posts each day. I find it no more “tiring” to scan past a post from Sprint, than I do from that random person I met during my Michigan orientation. Maybe we are used to dealing with the 1,000s of other advertisements on the TV, Radio, roadside because they have been around all of our lives. Facebook is a relatively new way to communicate, and therefore the advertisements stick out more to some people.

  6. I would agree with you on this one, Katie Barbour. This article makes a great point in arguing that nobody will pay for news without the usual package of coupons, comics, and obituaries. Paywalled stories cannot give the same deal for their money. One solution to this would be to rely on advertisers, but I for one am easily distracted by advertisements and a site which is too cluttered with ads loses that professional feeling, even if the stories themselves are still credible. I would recommend that news sites try to pull a Facebook and incorporate other things into their columns besides just news. This isn’t a new idea. As a kid I read the newspaper for the funnies column, not the scoop. If a site can get people hooked on the idea of coming to your news-feed for the crossword and Sudoku puzzle, or even for more fun internet-y games and comics, they won’t need to use an expensive and ineffective paywall system or cover their page in advertisements to keep the revenue steady. I for one check a ridiculous amount of webcomics every day. Those things are addictive. If online newspapers started hooking up with these artists they could probably bypass the paywall system altogether, just through increased web activity.

  7. I’m not a fan of the bar metaphor at all. As Taylor mentioned, it doesn’t matter if it’s a thousand or millions of people that use the website, the only people I’m going to see at the bar are people I want to see. I guess I’m in the minority here, but for most websites I use ad-block plus, a browser add-on that blocks ads, so advertisements are not a factor for me (I wouldn’t be clicking them anyway). I think a more effective way of getting Facebook across to the general public would have been akin to something like a popular mall that you go to catch up with friends. You’re aware that other people are there, but you’re only interacting with friends. There may be many shops (ads) around, but there are probably few that are worth spending your time on as you are mostly interested in spending time with your friends. I’m not sure where he was going with the Tripod condom collection. There are probably plenty of weird Facebook accounts out there for odd things, but I’m sure that whoever has one of those also has a main account that is used normally. Despite not being a fan of the metaphor I am a big fan of the kicker. I think a majority of people use Facebook because it’s the largest site, not because of any particular features it has. Everybody is a hostage in the sense that there are no better alternatives if you want a place to easily stay in contact with a large amount of people.

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