Emily Bell: Social networks and journalists need to work together
Rise of the tabloid web
...As Bell points out, most newsrooms — even the slow-moving, traditionally-focused ones like the New York Times — have come to realize that they need to understand and take advantage of the social sharing that platforms like Facebook provide, because that is how content works now. Everyone wants to “go viral.” In a sense, the web is encouraging everyone to think like the editor of a tabloid newspaper like the Daily Mirror. What do readers want and how can we give it to them as quickly as possible?
The problem — as Bell outlined in a similar lecture last year at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism — is that journalists and media companiesno longer have any control whatsoever over what happens to their content once they publish it. Proprietary networks like Facebook and Twitter and Google are now the power brokers who determine who sees your story and when, and their decisions are made for reasons that may have nothing to do with the journalistic quality of your content....
The bottom line, Bell says, is that journalists and technology companies or social platforms need to work together to figure out how to handle the atomized, networked and democratized media environment we all find ourselves in. It’s not enough for Facebook or Google to say they aren’t journalistic organizations and therefore they don’t have a duty to consider things like free speech — they are functioning as journalistic tools, and they have a larger responsibility to society.