Like so many times before with acts of mass violence in different parts of the world, news of shootings at two Christchurch mosques on Friday instantly ricocheted around the world via social media.
Most people think the internet operates as a kind of global public square. In reality, it’s become a divided arena where conflict between nation states plays out. Nation states run covert operations on the same platforms we use to post cat videos and exchange gossip. And if we’re not aware of it, we could be unwittingly used as pawns for the wrong side. How did we get here? It’s complicated, but let’s walk through some of the main elements.
A landmark ruling by an Australian court is expected to have international consequences for newsrooms, with media companies on notice they face large compensation claims if they fail to take care of journalists who regularly cover traumatic events.
The newspaper industry in many countries is in the doldrums. Retrenchments have become the norm with experienced journalists who specialize in a particular reporting area – known as “beat reporting” – are among the first to go.
Eat blueberries for the antioxidants. Exercise daily at a moderate intensity for optimal heart health. Get the vaccine to prevent the disease. Our decision-making and conduct is influenced by what we read, see or hear. And many parts of our lives, from the food we eat to our quality of sleep, can in some way be linked back to scientific research.
For social media and search engines, the law is back in town. Prompted by privacy invasions, the spread of misinformation, a crisis in news funding and potential interference in elections, regulators in several countries now propose a range of interventions to curb the power of digital platforms.
This article will be no help whatsoever to Britain’s crumbling local newspaper industry. After 12 years researching the provincial press at its peak period, the second half of the 19th century, I have no answers for today’s business in crisis. In 2018, the fourth largest regional newspaper group in Britain, Johnston Press, recently went bust (and was then “rescued” by a US asset fund). A quarter of the country’s local papers have closed in the last ten years. Jobs have been cut, print sales tumble, and profits dwindle (although many local papers still make money). Fewer reporters staffing local papers mean fewer original stories, which makes the papers less attractive to readers, which accelerates the decline. The industry itself blames internet advertising, and competition from Facebook and Google. Others blame local newspaper management, not known for its dynamism or strategic ...
The federal government’s recent announcement of financial support for news organizations has been met with understandably wide-ranging reactions — from relief to skepticism, and worse. Among other measures, the package will incentivize consumers to sign up for digital news subscriptions and subsidize publishers through a tax credit on salaries paid to journalists. It’s good news for imperilled news businesses, but even some who share the government’s expressed concern over the sustainability of independent information about public affairs have expressed misgivings. The doubters include many journalists — the very people who stand most to gain from the promised support.
The right to information is vital for preventing corruption. When citizens can access key facts and data from governments, it is more difficult to hide abuses of power and other illegal activities - governments can be held accountable. Access to information also empowers citizens by informing their voting, giving them a chance to speak out against injustice and ensuring they know their rights. In Mexico, when communities denied healthcare and education learnt that they had a right to these services they fought to access them. The value of access to information is recognised around the world and there are many countries where, both on paper and in practice, the right to information is a reality. Nearly 120 countries have laws to enable it, however this doesn’t necessarily mean that citizens can get important government data in all of these countries.
There are some things that you can do to protect yourself from falling for a hoax. As the author of the upcoming book “Fake Photos,” to be published in August, I’d like to offer a few tips to protect yourself from falling for a hoax.