Google and Facebook’s New Plan to ‘Save’ Journalism Already a Farce

Facebook and Google claim they are setting out to save journalism in the run up to the 2020 election cycle, but many are already scoffing at their plans.

Google, for instance, recently claimed that it is re-writing its algorithms and its guidelines for its human search quality employees to allow for more original and local reporting. This, they say, will boost the original report of any particular bit of news and shy from pushing those simply aggregating the content.

The purpose for this is to shut down sites that don’t do original reports but instead curate news from around the world to bring key stories to readers.

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For its part, Facebook announced its new program to offer several major news outlets as much as $3 million a year to license their headlines and previews of articles. The new feature will be put in a special news tab and will represent Facebook’s “official” news outlets.

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Both companies have also announced that it will fund local journalism with a $300 million fund for a three-year period.

But the moves have already worried some journalists who fear that the efforts will bring more harm than good to the news media.

“If they want to have quality content for their users, which they say they want to have, they’re going to have to come up with a more broadly sustainable business model for publishers than handing out candy every once in a while,” said David Chavern of the News Media Alliance trade group.

Chavern lauded Google and Facebook’s announcements, but added that it won’t be enough to reinvigorate the news industry. He also said that it is possible that the new approaches could discourage outlets from attributing or hat-tipping each other’s reporting in an attempt to look the most “original” to the companies’ algorithms.

“The current algorithms punish investments and promote copying,” Chavern said. “That’s the baseline.”

It is already too late to help the news media regain its reputation, though. Already a majority of Americans don’t trust the media and feel that “journalists” lack ethics.

A new Ethics in Media study finds that a huge majority, 95 percent, feel that that state of the news media today is “troubling” and that there is a lack of ethics among “journalists.”

The new study was published this week and was conducted of 1,010 American adults by the public relations firm Bospar.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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