Tech Companies as Media Platforms

In this brief article and video combination, a new Google service called News Lab is described. News Lab is essentially a resource for journalists to find the most up to date stories and information with the most up to date technology. The program focuses on “empowering journalists and media entrepreneurs through tools, data, and programs.” I spent some time exploring News Lab (you can find it here), and I found that it offers everything from graphs to maps to lessons on how to be an effective storyteller. It’s an interesting idea; journalists can see what topics are being searched, and consequently know exactly what the public wants to know more about.

At one part in the short video, Olivia Ma describes News Lab as “an effort to use our technologies to be part of this innovation in journalism that’s happening today.” What kind of innovation do you think she’s referring to? What has changed with journalism that made tech companies suddenly want to race to create the best information resource for journalists to use?

I also thought it was interesting when they mentioned that “tech companies very much want to be media platforms.” Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all now have platforms that are comparable to News Lab. What do you think tech companies like these have to gain by supporting the media? Additionally, what are the benefits of journalists and technologists working together? How will having all of these tech companies and social media outlets competing to improve the media industry change the landscape for journalism?

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5 Responses to “Tech Companies as Media Platforms”

  1. I like this idea. Any time you’re creating content, you want to get to know your audience and how they’re reacting to what you’re putting out. Google Analytics, and other fancier platforms like the one we saw in action at the Free Press, are critical to learning how your audience interacts with your content. However, with those sorts of things, you can only ever be reactionary – you put a piece out, see how people interact with it, and then use that info to better inform your next decision.

    An idea like this one seems to me to allow journalists and other content creators to be preemptive (although, not totally so) in choosing their story ideas. You already know what’s being consumed and a tool that puts all of the data at your fingertips means that your story gets to press faster than it would if you had to do all the research yourself. In today’s atmosphere, where stories are up and down in a matter of hours, that’s really important when you’re talking about maximizing your viewership.

    All this to say that, by becoming media platforms, tech companies stand to gain the same thing that every company wants: customers. Society loves news. I’m in this class because I love news. Making news better and faster seems like good business.

  2. I agree with Jimmy when he says that tech companies are most likely trying to get more customers by incorporating media into their platforms. I think they are also trying to get their customers to stay on their site even longer, and check their accounts more often. I know that when I check Facebook, I usually look at the trending topics on the side of the page. The information is not always that relevant, but is the most interesting part of Facebook. I think that tech companies realize that people are most interested in seeing news, and have changed their platforms to include it.

    Because of the addition of news on social media, it seems like it is easier to obtain information, but it can also be difficult to find topics that actually matter. I think that a lot of the “trending topics” and news that these sites report on are often pop culture or issues that are not truly important. Instead, they are mostly entertainment for the public.

  3. I agree with Emily and Jimmy. To me, it seems that we are entering a time when certain apps/ tech companies monopolize the market on social media (for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google etc) and, like Emily said, these internet powerhouses want to keep users on their page for as long as possible. So by incorporating news into social media, they are not only helping journalists have a clearer view of rising and falling demographics, but they are also expanding their monopoly, and keeping users on their site even longer.

    Also, I think the innovation Ma is referring to is what we discuss in class frequently and what the Knight News Challenge is about– people do not typically just read print newspapers, and news sources and the internet need to evolve for these changing habits and innovate ways to keep the public interested in the news. Because the news is very important, and if it is embedded in Facebook/Twitter/ whatever else, users of these sites will access the news.

  4. I think that it makes sense that tech companies are covering news, but I also think it could be problematic. It makes sense because it helps tech companies gain views, and it delivers news in a way that is fast and convenient. Rather than consumers seeking out the news, they stumble upon it while scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. We are in a culture of immediacy and this is a very fast way to see what people are talking about, so consumers like it. However, a lot of these tech companies are geared toward a social use. Facebook, Twitter, and companies like this are generally used for social reasons and “fun”. Therefore, the types of things that people post to their followers and cause to trend are not always the most hard-hitting news. I see a lot of Buzzfeed articles, very left or right-wing opinion articles, or human interest stories on Facebook and other websites. While these stories are important and good, it misses another important chunk of the news such as the economy or foreign affairs that may not be exciting enough to post on Facebook. However, it doesn’t have to be so pessimistic. I think this new venue has the opportunity to be a platform of innovative collaboration for tech companies and the media, if used correctly.

  5. I agree with everyone that tech and social media companies are expanding their news and journalism platforms to extract more users but I would say this is the main goal of any company. The customers they are attracting is centered around the idea that anyone can be a sometime of a journalist today. We have talked about this somewhat in class already, because the internet has such a vast amount of information anyone can talk and blog about what is going on around the world today. One question I have is how exactly is information being collected, are there any privacy matters as to accessing what an individual is searching on an everyday basis? Is the information personalized to every computer? When the information is being sorted through can anybody at google, or anywhere else, access that information? I think they’re serious questions of personal internet privacy.

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