The Week Kick-off: Google Showcase, Economist Impact, and an Internet under threat

A bumper-packed Kick-off this week (as in laden with so many zinging one-liners they should be bumper stickers) as the industry navigates its way through some serious issues. Press Gazette has an in-depth report on Google Showcase, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change publishes a report on the state of the world’s internet, and UK journalists are hitting back against claims that the media is to blame for the country’s fuel crisis. The week in media… Kicked-off!

Press Gazette lifts the lid on Google Showcase

A year on from the launch of Google News Showcase, an investigative report from Press Gazette has taken an in-depth look at the programme. Speaking with more than a dozen senior publishing industry sources across five countries, the investigation looks at: 

  • Details of the formula Google uses to calculate individual News Showcase payments
  • The value of several individual contracts signed by publishers in different countries
  • Evidence that publishers in Australia, where political pressure is highest, are receiving more favourable offers than news companies in larger countries
  • Claims that Google is preparing to delay the launch of News Showcase in the US as publishers push for greater payments
  • And concerns that News Showcase is not working well as a product, generating only “dribbles” of traffic for news websites.

You can read the report in full on the Press Gazette website here

Internet as we know it under threat?

If there’s one thing that screams out from the Press Gazette investigation, it’s the importance of a unified approach to media tech policy. That reality is echoed in a separate report also published last week by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which says that the internet as we know it today is under threat. 

Titled ‘The Open Internet on the Brink: A Model to Save Its Future’, the report says that global internet systems and structures are on the brink of collapse, and that big tech needs to set out clearer and more robust international policies to protect and promote a more responsible open internet around the world.

In his foreword to the report, Tony Blair, TBI Executive Chairman, says: “The technological revolution has been a global phenomenon unlike any other. Now, in response to the disruptive power of the open internet, new types of control are emerging. The idea of recreating digital borders to replicate national ones has been picked up by governments across the world. At first it seems persuasive but on closer examination doesn’t survive contact with technical or economic reality and is often an internet-era re-articulation of protectionism.”  Full story here

Seeking greater Economist Impact

One company moving to impose a greater socio-economic impact on global affairs is the Economist Group, which this week announced the launch of Economist Impact – a business which will partner with leading corporations, governments and non-profits to deliver positive societal change. Together with its partners, Economist Impact will seek to drive conversation in three key areas: sustainability, health, and globalisation.

The new business is already designing multi-year partnerships for a range of clients, including the Back to Blue initiative with The Nippon Foundation, which aims to protect the health of oceans, and Google Jigsaw’s programme to end online violence against women. Other partners of Economist Impact include Deutsche Bank, BP, Infosys and Amgen. Full story here

UK journalists hit back at claims that the media is to blame for fuel crisis

There are also serious issues going on around press trust at present, as current events in the UK highlight. Last Tuesday, a YouGov poll found that 47% of respondents believed that the media was most to blame for UK petrol stations running out of fuel. This is compared with 23% who said the government, and 22% who said the public. Clearly, it’s a worrying time for press trust when an industry that is responsible for neither energy nor infrastructure is singled out for causing fuel shortages. So what’s gone wrong? And where do we go from here? 

FIPP put that question to Ian Carter, Editorial Director for Iliffe Media, who published an article on the same day titled ‘Why we shouldn’t blame the media for the panic buying of petrol’. In it, he says the theory doesn’t stand up to a moment’s examination and here, in this exclusive interview for FIPP, he gives us his views on why the UK public’s perception of the media is in the state it’s in today: 

“The UK remains bitterly divided, largely due to Brexit, and it’s hard to see how that will fix itself and the level of debate and argument has certainly sunk to new lows. The country has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years. There is a deep distrust of authority and unfortunately I fear the press is viewed as being part of the establishment – and abused accordingly.” Full interview here

Ozy no Osbournes 

And finally… we couldn’t complete this week’s Kick-off without a look at Ozy Media. The US start-up shutdown on Friday, following a scandal surrounding executive misbehaviour and inflated engagement metrics. Former BBC Journalist & Broadcaster, Katty Kay – who had left the BBC to join Ozy – quit after just three months at the company. Additionally, in a strange turn of events, Sharon Osbourne claimed that her and her husband had been falsely attributed with investing in the company. 

James Clayton, the BBC’s North America Technology Reporter, provides a damming analysis: ‘These accusations are outrageous, almost unbelievable – part of a toxic culture of corporate behaviour that exists in parts of Silicon Valley… Some of the things Ozy Media has been accused of are actually pretty common in Silicon Valley. Overstating how popular your content is a classic of the genre – something numerous companies have been accused of. But there are other accusations here that are simply astonishing – that if true may well lead to legal action.’

As for FIPP… 

We are running training and research GALORE right now, as the industry seeks to restart and reskill as the world finally begins to move out of the Covid-19 crisis… This week, the fourth and final part of our e-commerce course in partnership with Tipser will be taking place, and you can find out all about Week 3 – which took a look at development and implementation – here.

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