Journalists Blaming Facebook For Decline Is Just As Tiresome As When They Blamed Craigslist & Google
from the time-to-innovate dept
The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade recently published a column about “why Facebook is public enemy number one for newspapers in journalism.” It’s a bunch of complete nonsense. I won’t go through the whole thing, but here’s just a snippet:
Facebook?s increasing dominance over advertising is causing the laying off of journalists, the people who produce the news that it transmits to its users.
The logical conclusion to that process is not only the destruction of old media, legacy media, mainstream media, whatever you want to call it, but the end of journalism as we know it.
Yeah. Okay. Let’s be clear: this is bullshit. As Ben Thompson pointed out, the decline of newspaper revenue predates Facebook, by a lot:
FACT: Journalism's business model was screwed before Facebook earned a single dime pic.twitter.com/OF5nMM3T0u
— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) September 20, 2016
Indeed, it seems that as newspaper revenue has declined, screaming newspaper reporters have been looking for a “dot com” to blame, every step of the way, rather than looking inwardly at their own failures to adapt to a changing marketplace. I remember, not too long ago, when it wasn’t Facebook that was killing the news business, but Craigslist. I mean, everyone said it was true:
- The Rise of Craigslist and How It’s Killing Your Newspaper
- How Craigslist killed the newspapers’ golden goose
- Another study shows Craigslist is killing newspapers
- Newspaper Billions Become Craigslist Millions
- Pew Center Illustrates how Craigslist is killing newspapers
- Craigslist Is Killing Newspapers
- Sorry, Craig: Study Finds Craigslist Took $5 Billion from Newspapers
And, of course, after it was all Craigslist’s fault, it was, undoubtedly, the fault of Google and its Google News product. That’s why Europe is so busy trying to force Google to pay for newspapers that it links to. And, of course, once again, lots of media folks jumped on the blame Google bandwagon:
- Bob Woodward accuses Google of killing newspapers
- Google will destroy local newspapers
- Trevor Ncube Says Google Killing News Industry
- Blame Google for news decline
- More on Google, Craigslist, and who’s killing newspapers
- Google dubbed internet parasite by WSJ editor
A few notes on some of the above links. The “study” that is cited in some of the first batch about how Craigslist is “killing” newspapers was from the Pew Research Center — the very same research shop that Greenslade points to in the link up at the top of this article blaming Facebook. Second, that first article in the second list, about Bob Woodward blaming Google… is also by Greenslade. Yet, in that case, Greenslade mocks Woodward for blaming Google (and very kindly provides a link to me mocking Woodward’s silly claims.
So let’s get a few things out of the way here: Newspapers are struggling. They absolutely are. But it’s not “because” of Facebook (or Craigslist or Google). Newspapers were going to struggle with the rise of the internet no matter what, because it laid bare the basic coincidence that made newspapers profitable despite themselves. For many, many years, we’ve been pointing out that the true business of newspapers was a community business, rather than a news business. It’s just that in the pre-internet days, newspapers had a bit of a monopoly on being able to build communities — often local communities — around the news. But they had very little competition in that business, other than maybe a few other local newspapers (though consolidation took care of that in most markets). The business, then, of newspapers was taking the attention they received from that community, and selling it to advertisers.
The internet structurally changed all of this, by creating all sorts of other areas where people could congregate and build communities. That’s kind of what the internet is good at. And suddenly there’s a ton of competition in the community space. But newspapers, incorrectly thinking they were in the “news” business, often made decisions that actively harmed the community aspect. They put up paywalls. They took away the ability to comment. They made it harder for local communities of interest to form.
So what happened? The communities and their (valuable) attention went elsewhere. And, these days, much of that “elsewhere” when it comes to communities is Facebook.
And, just like Google before it, Facebook has actually created a pretty valuable channel for sending people to your news website. Many publishers haven’t figured this out yet — or how to harness it. Hell, just a month or so ago, I was talking about how we here at Techdirt haven’t figured this out at all (we get depressingly little traffic from Facebook compared to many of our peers). But you won’t see us blaming Facebook for this. It’s on us. Have our ad rates dropped off a cliff? Yes. Is that Facebook’s fault? Hell no. Even if all the advertising money that used to go to newspapers and news sites magically shifted to Facebook (which it hasn’t), then it would be because of a failure on the part of those news companies to offer a better overall product for advertisers.
It’s time for publications to stop blaming every new technology site that comes along, and to focus on actually adapting, changing and finding new business models that work. It may not be easy. And many will crash and burn completely. But that’s not the “fault” of these new companies at all.
Filed Under: ad rates, blame, journalism, news, social media, technology
Companies: craigslist, facebook, google
Comments on “Journalists Blaming Facebook For Decline Is Just As Tiresome As When They Blamed Craigslist & Google”
And I just thought I'd leave this here...
As long as we’re talking about the decline and destruction of news sources due to lack of revenue, or because that revenue source wasn’t ACTUALLY tied to producing the news, I thought I’d leave you all with this link: https://rtb.techdirt.com
How to Build a Million-Dollar Business
(1) Start with a $2M business …
It’s a shame it’s not true because I’d kinda like to lose “Journalism” as we know it because it’s actively harming society.
Hell, just a month or so ago, I was talking about how we here at Techdirt haven’t figured this out at all (we get depressingly little traffic from Facebook compared to many of our peers).
You certainly are ahead of many larger outfits out there with your shop and many means to be an active part of this community. And you are humble and wise enough to see that you haven’t got how to do it totally right yet and this is a long way walked in the path of actually doing it right.
That’s the difference between the ones that will fade away and the ones that will keep walking even if struggling and with hardships.
” (we get depressingly little traffic from Facebook compared to many of our peers).”
That is because intelligent people come here.
I love how the article ignores the fact any non-advertising business relying on advertising to exist misses the entire point about being a business.
Newspapers weren’t about the community, unless this translated as “captive audience”.
The entire notion of the monopoly should have made this obvious.
The biggest reason why “businesses” haven’t figured things out is because they didn’t have a clue to begin with, including Techdirt.
News is not a commodity. It’s a consumable. Like an apple, the value exists only for moments before it’s gone.
What’s left after that? Nothing.
It’s more apt to compare Techdirt and news sites selling t-shirts, mugs, and subscriptions to a 7-Eleven, where the news is the loss leader trying to shill overpriced products.
At least 7-Eleven knows it’s a convenience store. Newspapers can’t call themselves anything, really.
I can read the articles here elsewhere, and before they are posted here. Most of the time. I come here for the comments. Mike seems like a nice guy as does the rest of the crew. If TD were to follow the lead of lets say… NPR… then like NPR my viewership will disappear. The open comments and the sense of a community is what is attractive about TD. Hell, even Whatever has a place here. News is news. I can read it anywhere. TD is like a favorite coffee shop or restaurant that I spend a few hours visiting.
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It may feel like a favorite coffee shop, but feelings don’t pay the bills, so again, the point about this being a business was lost. At least a coffee shop sells coffee, but it doesn’t rely on ads to run itself.
That’s the elephant in the room that everyone ignores in these discussions. Remember a while ago when Techdirt was transparent about running this site based wholly on ad revenue? They couldn’t do it and needed additional support.
That’s not a business. That’s a charity, or if you’d like, a tip jar. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s impossible to sustain on ad revenue alone, especially when only a few of the patrons support it outside the ads (and it sure doesn’t help to allow people to block ads).
It’s all well and good for Techdirt, but that’s why they can’t figure it out. And if Techdirt can’t figure it out, whose primary business is to get clients to pay for improving their business, what chance does any digital distributor have?
The advertising necessity for an internet “business” is completely foolish because the internet wasn’t designed to be a business.
Before anyone screams “Google”, best take a look at how they run the company: it has nothing to do with running a business on the internet, but a physical business to puts ads on the internet.
That’s a pretty big difference to run a business.
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Ahh, the elephant in the room, pointing out the blindly obvious, which is that even Techdirt is pretty much forced to shill (the marketplace ads as posts) and the various “limited time” t-shirt things… oh yeah, and the crowdfunded “reporting” thing that turned out to be nothing more than business as usual.
Techdirt is a fairly popular website. Being one of the top 10,000 sites in the US (according to Alexa) you would figure that it could easily be profitable. But the marked increase in adverposting and t-shirt campaigns says otherwise. That is with a minimal staff, and with costs shared with a number of different companies and of course the think tank.
The truth is that few mainstream websites on the internet are very profitable. The ones who make big money (say TMZ) do it in no small part by moving to traditional media distribution (the daily TMZ show) to really bring in the income. Online isn’t as huge a money maker as all of that.
The newspapers’ arguments are valid. Pre-internet, they ruled the roost. If you wanted aggregated eyeballs, and you wanted to get a message out, advertising in your local newspaper was actually a pretty good way to do it. Ditto for local radio and local TV. Those were effectively your three choices.
Now the online world is dominated by Google and Facebook. Between the two, they represent 75% or more of the online ad revenues, and have the majority of the eyeballs. Newspapers have lost their dominant spot, and more over, with hungry online companies willing to sell space for pennies instead of dollars, they have also seen their ad revenue models collapse. They still get lots of eyeballs, but you can get many of the same views much more cheaply online.
Should they have adapted? Well, to what, exactly? Subscription model? Techdirt says no, walled gardens are bad! So where should they do? Sell lots of t-shirts? Put cameras over reporters shoulders and charge people to watch the streaming live video?
it’s nonsense in the end. The newspapers aren’t wrong but they also need to understand that the proverbial toothpaste is out of the tube, there is no going back.
The real problem is news is replaced by opinion, entertainment, and self-reflecting information sources that are often wrong about everything. It’s why we have riots about police shooting armed suspects. It’s not about understanding why, it’s about a feedback loop of misinformation and twisted stats used to make things matter. It’s pretty sad.
As you sow, you shall reap. Read them and weep.
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That’s funny, because if the usual critics/copyright fans like you are to be believed, nobody takes Masnick seriously or reads what he posts.
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Nice deflection, too bad it’s not exactly true.
Plenty of people read the site (duh!) but not everyone takes him seriously. It’s like learning politics from Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. They both are “fairly popular” but only the extremists take them seriously. Everyone else points and laughs.
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I suspect a lot more people take Mike seriously than the number of people that take you seriously. By comparison you won’t even identify yourself.
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It’s interesting that you complain about the decline of traditional media as if to defend traditional media but then you argue that few people take Mike seriously. If your complaint is that no one cares for traditional media anymore then clearly it appears everyone sympathizes with Mike more than you and hence they take him more seriously than you.
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It’s a syncopate style situation. We like to hear what we already think, even if what we think is wrong or twisted. It is basic human nature. We like to be told we are right.
It’s the reason why people who seem extreme to many (Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, or even George Noory) seem perfectly sane and perfect to their believers. Those people want to believe it’s the truth, and when they hear it or read it in the media, they feel a solid connection to the “truth”.
The problem for mainstream media is that they don’t tend to say what people want to hear, and instead just tell them the truth (or the closest thing to it). It’s why Foxnews overtook CNN, it’s not about the news, they figured out how to present the news in a manner that engaged a certain segment of the population by playing to their fears and desires.
So Techdirt is fairly popular, and in the same manner that Mike has his list of go-to sources for his slant, he is also one of the go-to guys for others looking for the slant. It’s natural and normal. Techdirt plays well to the “ain’t got nothing to protect” crowd.
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“Techdirt is a fairly popular website. Being one of the top 10,000 sites in the US (according to Alexa) you would figure that it could easily be profitable. But the marked increase in adverposting and t-shirt campaigns says otherwise. That is with a minimal staff, and with costs shared with a number of different companies and of course the think tank. “
and if it weren’t for the Internet none of these top 10K sites could exist and make revenue doing something they perhaps like. They won’t have the option at all. Instead they would either have to go through traditional channels, owned by big corporate conglomerates that limit what you can say based on their own self interests and agenda, or they would be out of jobs or find a less worthwhile job because there are fewer jobs available and hence less competition for someone looking for a way to make money.
and with more news sites I am exposed to a wider array of opinions. and I find the mainstream media to be nonsense by comparison. and I don’t need you to tell me that I’m somehow wrong because you think you have better intellect than me and everyone else. That’s laughable at best.
“Should they have adapted? Well, to what, exactly? Subscription model? Techdirt says no, walled gardens are bad! So where should they do? Sell lots of t-shirts? Put cameras over reporters shoulders and charge people to watch the streaming live video?”
They should work harder. Do multiple things. It’s their responsibility to find creative ways to adapt. That it’s hard, that there is lots of competition, is not my problem. Why should they get any special privileges? They should have to compete like anyone else, they’re not special, and if they want to build their business they need to work harder than everyone else. and, yes, there are many other people willing to work hard as well as you seem to indicate. But that’s the whole point, they shouldn’t be given an unlevel playing field where they have an unfair advantage that lets them make more money without working as hard (ie: abolish broadcasting and cableco monopolies).
The problem is that you’re looking for an easy silver bullet. You want life to be easy, where everything is clear cut and you don’t have to take any risks at all, you can just do the same thing over and over and keep making tons of money without having to actually think. That’s the lazy way out. Real life shouldn’t work that way and the government shouldn’t help you to that end. You need to figure it out and there are risks and there is no clear cut single path and no single right solution.
“Newspapers have lost their dominant spot, and more over, with hungry online companies willing to sell space for pennies instead of dollars, they have also seen their ad revenue models collapse. They still get lots of eyeballs, but you can get many of the same views much more cheaply online. “
Competition is tough. But that’s a good thing. Competition is what keeps businesses honest and ensures that businesses don’t feed us garbage. We become the judges of the quality of the content that we consume, not some self monopolized distributor that bought the necessary politicians to gain their market position. and it is better for us to judge what we think is right and wrong than to have some monopolized distributor judge for us.
“The real problem is news is replaced by opinion, entertainment, and self-reflecting information sources that are often wrong about everything.”
To be fair I’ve hardly seen you right about anything. Most of what you say is absolute nonsense often made up as you go so I guess it’s your very own comments that proves your point? I see what you did there ….
While you are one of the idiots that are often wrong about everything I think the point is that it’s easy for me to tell. Your posts come off as arrogant, putting yourself ‘above’ anyone as if you somehow have a superior understanding of what’s right and wrong than everyone else when clearly that’s not the case at all. Even when people point out how wrong you are you absolutely refuse to acknowledge it, ever. But people see right through your nonsense.
“It’s like learning politics from Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. They both are “fairly popular” but only the extremists take them seriously. Everyone else points and laughs.”
I think there are important differences. Firs of all no one is going to hold their opinion entirely but people listen because there may be some things they have to contribute. Everyone has their own different views but at least that’s better than traditional media that bases its views on its own self interests.
and often people present extreme views not because they hold them but just to get others to consider various viewpoints as a thought experiment.
But more to the point I think you make an important point. These are good examples of what you get from traditional media, that is, what you get when media is dictated by who holds the monopoly over radio and television and there is little competition. You get fed whatever the monopolists decide to feed you even if it’s ridiculous.
Techdirt, OTOH, exists in a much more organic environment where competition thrives and it still retains viewership.
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“While you are one of the idiots that are often wrong about everything I think the point is that it’s easy for me to tell. Your posts come off as arrogant, putting yourself ‘above’ anyone as if you somehow have a superior understanding of what’s right and wrong than everyone else when clearly that’s not the case at all. Even when people point out how wrong you are you absolutely refuse to acknowledge it, ever. But people see right through your nonsense.”
Slow clap. You almost had some valid points and then you destroyed it with a massive, hateful personal attack.
“Techdirt, OTOH, exists in a much more organic environment where competition thrives and it still retains viewership.”
By telling the read what they want to hear, and not worrying about the fuller truth. Your long rant pretty much missed the point entirely, but hey, after the personal attack, I didn’t expect any less.
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If Techdirt is the one telling readers what they want to hear, and not you, then how can you argue that few people take Techdirt seriously.
If you think you somehow have a better understanding of truth than the rest of us then please share. Because all I see out of you is an arrogant appeal to your own superior authority and your allegations that you are somehow more enlightened on matters of truth than the rest of us.
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If you didn’t always pontificate and instead started acting as a participant in the discussion instead of a self proclaimed arbiter of truth then perhaps people will take you more seriously instead of ridiculing you all the time. Just a thought.
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You seem to keep forgetting people do actually read your post history. If your arrogance was water you’d solve several African drought crises, but that would involve people getting things for free, and everyone knows you have an allergenic condition for that.
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“Now the online world is dominated by Google and Facebook. Between the two, they represent 75% or more of the online ad revenues, and have the majority of the eyeballs.”
Thanks to the fact that services like Megaupload and Veoh were wrongfully shut down you are right, they do represent too much of the market. They’re the best we got, the alternative is the even much more self serving and corrupt traditional media.
You complain about Facebook’s and Google’s dominance but the moment a competitor tries to come in and take market share you complain about that too. There is no making you happy, you just want corrupt and self serving traditional entities to monopolize the market entirely.
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(and please note, in case it comes up, I am referring to the original Veoh that shut down due to expensive lawsuits despite being found not doing anything illegal by the courts, not the current Veoh).
He's not wrong
The logical conclusion to that process is not only the destruction of old media, legacy media, mainstream media, whatever you want to call it, but the end of journalism as we know it.”
He’s narrow minded in blaming only Facebook, but the internet as a whole is absolutely to blame for killing off “old” media, “legacy” media, “mainstream” media, and “journalism as knows it”. And that’s totally OK. Journalism isn’t disappearing, it’s simply re-inventing itself in a digital era. “Old” & “legacy” die off as digital becomes the new “mainstream”. The legacy players are just too blinded to see it.
Re: He's not wrong
it’s simply re-inventing itself
It is creative destruction. Old business models are fading while new ones are being created. Many times the new ones are more efficient so there may not be a need for 1,000s of newspapers re-printing the same news stories. Maybe a handful can do the job. Maybe the local news could concentrate on say, local news? Maybe they aren’t flying high in the prestigious national/international scenes but maybe they can dominate a niche.
Re: He's not wrong
“…the internet as a whole…”
…is obviously a tree-hugger conspiracy to destroy the newspaper industry in particular.
I’d say they weren’t in the community business, at least not the big players. They’re in the advertising business. They just got complacent in their double-dipping (people buy our shit and people pay us to insert shit into what people buy!), and have gone through the same problem so many other businesses have in which they cut costs which just so happens to undermine the very thing people gave them money for. I mean seriously Mike, open up a copy of the Mercury News around here and count how many are just articles written by other papers. It’s unreal.
Now the eyes have left and the advertisers know it. Newspapers double-dipped their salsa, and now no one else wants to eat it.
“The logical conclusion to that process is not only the destruction of old media, legacy media, mainstream media, whatever you want to call it, but the end of journalism as we know it. “
Good riddance! The media as I knew it was nothing but a self serving crock anyways, the sooner it dies the better!!!
and the same goes for ‘journalism’ as I knew it, if you can even call it that.
Interesting!… in my attempt to link to, “Why Facebook Is Public Enemy Number One…”, I received, This Page Can’t Be Displayed! And my attempt to go through Google’s result by the same name, didn’t avail much either!
Please!… no emails!
I say good riddance
If what journalists put out today is considered news and journalism, then I say good riddance. This year is the year that journalism died. Well, its been on it’s death bed for a long time, but this year it finally died. This election cycle has shown just how biased each news outlet is. They don’t even pretend anymore. So I hope they pass on quickly and maybe we get people who will do the job the way it should be done and do real investigative reporting.
Re: I say good riddance
Also, most of the news outlets re-post AP articles and frankly we don’t need 100 copies of the same AP article. One will do.
The world is finished as we know it.
I’m part of the problem. I’m one of those lazy dirty bastards that is killing the cleaning product industry.
must be good
if it kills the guardian it must be doing something right.
“Facebook’s increasing dominance over advertising is causing the laying off of journalists, the people who produce the news that it transmits to its users. “
journalists do not produce the news, they report it .. and many comment upon it, but they do not produce it.
Well, they actually have “produced” the news in at least one instance I recall – there was that pickup truck that would not explode by itself for their expose and therefore it needed a little help which resulted in them being sued, I remember them losing that case.
Actually, they do create the news in lots of cases. At some point journalists got tired of sitting on the sidelines and reporting on the news and they decided to create it instead.
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They also make “news” by picking some idiotic thing and pretending that there are two valid sides to it and gather opinions. That’s when they play the hands-off approach and won’t bother mentioning any facts involved.
Newspapers were a news source that people were just waiting to jump off of long before the internet, never mind any of these more recent houses of newspaper-killing evil.
A long time coming
Traditional news media has been in the process of dying long before the Internet. One example: a local paper, The Gainesville Sun, went to hell long about the mid-80’s.
The paper was purchased by the NYT. nuff-said.
MySpace is killing newspapers… Oh, wait.
If Facebook is better at news than you....
Just quit now. Calling your newspaper a rag would be an insult to scraps of cloth.
why are you complaining guard?
geez guardian dont you people basically just look on twitter and fb now and post whatevers on? the only thing you really have going for you at this point is that you are slightly better and less biased then raw story or breitbart
Papers turned journalism into juvenilism.
Ink/paper is killing the cave painting industry.
Aha!, I knew it:
And I thought they reported on the news.
It’s not Facebook or any single .com that is to blame for declining revenues.
It is because of search engines in general. Services like Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, hell even AOL, that led to this.
With the advent of the internet and a practical way to search it, we can now find our own preferred news source on a story-by-story basis.
The idiom “if you don’t like it go somewhere else” is exactly applicable here.
30 years ago, if you didn’t like the news reporting, what were you to do? Depending on the size of the community you lived in, there may only be 2 or 3 easily accessible newspapers, or only a few news shows on TV. Sure, you could always place special order with your newsagent for out-of-town/state/country papers – but that’s a hassle, especially if there are only 1 or 2 particular articles or a short period of time you are interested in.
Now, I can “go somewhere else” at the click of a button.
Not to mention, the variety. I mean, how many local news papers and TV shows do you need to actually watch to have the significant local news events – or the ones you are interested in – covered?
Now, now can explore what’s happening around the world by viewing THEIR news. Why wait a few days for the news (if it’s even regarded as important enough by your local outlets) to worm its way too you when you can go straight to the source country? Something happening in Brazil? Stream a Brazilian TV report, or read about it on a Brazilian website. Something happening in Croatia – go to a Croatian news site. And so on.
If you want to know what’s happening with BREXIT, go read some British newspapers, or blogs, or forums, for THEIR view. Want to know the Europeans views on BREXIT? Read some German, French, Italian, Austrian and whoever else’s reports you want. You don’t have to wait for the editors politically-motivated, filtered and ‘spun’ view you get in your own local news.
The news industry needs to face the fact that 90% of their revenues was derived from a captive market audience. They need to get over the fact that for most news organisations, that is the only reason they were viable businesses.
We are no longer a captive market.
So they need to get over themselves. While once they were a useful service, many of them are now nothing but parasites with a sense of entitlement. They need to adapt like any other business to change.
“With the advent of the internet”
Except that newspapers were failing long before the internet.
Journalism ? The real one died more than 1 century ago !!!!
Read Albert Londres and Joseph Kessel : they were not paid by the decadent imperialists !
very nıce proje ı like you work
this my proje look pls