Bonum Certa Men Certa

End of an Era

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Feb 27, 2024

Old newspaper on pebble beach with blue ocean in background

THE general state of online journalism is getting worse by the day or by the week. It's a matter of granularity, but we typically see a significant reduction after major holidays, so we assume more staff was let go (holidays as contract cutoffs or 'cliffs'). We needn't even rely on reports about the press (yes, there's some recursion here) laying off loads of staff because the difference is visible. Many RSS feeds yield nothing anymore. There's a lot less news "volume" and many remaining 'articles' are just reducible to some "tweet" or hearsay (like the "Trump says" type). There's concern that Google is trying to further accelerate this demise of the media, as it stands to gain from it.

For those of us who grew up with newspapers and detailed, fact-checked, verifiable reports the transition to "modern" Web (with DRM and surveillance you cannot avoid) will be a sad one. Today's "Web pages" are more like "webapps" and they read the readers, rather than let them read in anonymity and privacy (like inside a library before libraries got "digitised").

14 years ago Crikey said that "over half your news is spin". To quote: “[A]fter analysing a five-day working week in the media, across 10 hard-copy papers, ACIJ and Crikey found that nearly 55% of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations. The Daily Telegraph came out on top of the league ladder with 70% of stories analysed triggered by public relations. The Sydney Morning Herald gets the wooden spoon with (only) 42% PR-driven stories for that week.”

It has gotten so much worse since then. Crikey is still active and it covers fake news coverage. The Web isn't just filled with marketing spam but actual disinformation. Even "reputable" sources get tricked into relaying such disinformation, so trust erodes. See below (new).

Australian media has been publishing AI-manipulated Barnaby Joyce images

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