Fake news, it’s just gossip

Fake news, it’s just gossip…

Really is anyone surprised to find that if you enable people to publish and share what they like online, via Facebook, Google, Twitter, Word.Press – the list is long…some of it is complete tosh. Publishing it and sharing it does not make it credible.

If my car broke down I wouldn’t leave it in the street with a note on it saying “Please mend for free.”

News is the same. You get what you pay for.

But the investment in news, media and quality journalism is a big one. And always there is commercial conflict between integrity of news and selling advertising space. Without advert sales and paid for subscriptions whether via a ‘pay-wall’ or not; print costs and news quite simply can not be funded.

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It is the content not the technology that makes the expert

So just exactly how do the figures stack up for UK news groups?

The Economist Group is a limited company made up of famous brands such as: The Economist and EuroFinance. The Group has three types of share ownership, including trust shares and special shares. This means that the integrity of how the Group operates and the quality of its news reporting is protected by the structure and ownership of the company. In fact over 43% of the Group is made up of special shares and trust shares, meaning that integrity is a core value.
The Guardian Media Group (GMG) parent company for the Guardian and the Observer newspapers; is also trust owned at around 50.1%. GMG reported losses of £62.6m last financial year (2015-16) the majority of which funded the trust ownership of newspaper.  As quoted in the GMG financial statement: ‘The sole purpose [of this type of funding] is to secure the editorial independence and financial security of the Guardian in perpetuity.’

Whereas if we look at Facebook it had total assets of $64.96m at 2016 year-end, and total liabilities including stockholder equity, at $5.77m. Google on the other hand made $111,649.51m in total revenue at 2016 year-end with a gross profit of $68,275m.

Hmmm… this points to the money being in advertising, and if all you have to do as a publishing platform owner is – well erhh – publish then the outcome is lucrative. Thankfully both advertising platform owners are now taking steps to block fake news, and Facebook is piloting news feeds that contain interest and industry related news only, the feeds will not contain news updates from friends.

As to Twitter let’s hope it gets acquired by a trust or by a foundation, so that it can continue its heritage as a news micro-blog publisher and retain Wikipedia (or Wikimedia Foundation) credibility. For businesses and thinking people everywhere the lesson is to check the source of the news first, unless it comes from a trusted brand.

Google News pledges £107m to publishers over next three years

So Google News is in the news again, this time Google has pledged £107m to European publishers and news start-ups. As well as offering funding Google staff will be sharing knowledge with journalists on how to publish content so that it gets indexed correctly by Google.

What’s the point?

Well..

…if the ethos is that the best news is that which comes up in your search results, how do publishers fund that news, and make sure it’s indexed properly?

‘Ethical’ and well researched news doesn’t come for free, it’s written by experts who have niche knowledge. And if Google News want to stand out from Social Media as credible, and business orientated then they can’t go down the ‘most talked about’ route. ‘Most talked about’ might mean gossip or rumour, anyway it is unsubstantiated – sure it may be breaking news but it hasn’t been qualified yet. And until that journo is on the ground speaking to the authorities as well as eye witnesses who’s to say it’s true.

As regards Google compliance and the indexing of content, this takes different skills to that of journalism. There is a fine balance to be struck between a snappy headline and one that will make sense to the user that is seeking news or information. The blend of the dark art of SEO, not to mention responsive content, and intelligently written prose is the Editor’s daily challenge.

The move again highlights Google’s differentiation from other news sources, the recent partnership with Twitter emphasises a preference for trade, industry or business news as opposed to consumer-led interest.

Is there money in it?

Yes, businesses want to share their news, and speak directly to their clients or share holders – and not just from a pitching perspective. Business owners have sector knowledge and industry insight – who better to share news. And as traditional marketing continues to flag from cold calling to trade events, establishing credibility and therefore referral and recommendation has to be a more effective way to sell. And if the business sells ancillary products or services, advertising against relevant news in the right ‘section’ or ‘channel’ so that potential customers will understand the business proposition is  acost effective way to promote and position the product or service.

Reassuring too that the Financial Times, the Guardian and Die Zeit have joined the Google News foundation. It shows that regardless of history and credibility future proofing the freedom of the press is hard to do without funding or the support of Google.

siteAssets founder Sophie Relf

siteAssets founder Sophie Relf has over 10 years’ senior business development and marketing experience within leading media companies. Working for publishers such as the Guardian Media Group and Reed Elsevier owned totaljobs Sophie has had a wealth of cross-sector experience.

After leaving Totaljobs Group in early 2009, Sophie launched siteAssets. She quickly picked up a New Business and Marketing project with award winning media planner buyers agenda21 digital. Here Sophie gained rich insight and experience of cross-channel marketing. Whilst with agenda21 the agency picked up several awards and finalist positions for Social Media, SEO and Paid search campaigns. Sophie went on to audit Guardian Business and Professional, the commercial wing of GNM, and took a further project heading up Marketing Strategy  commercial with the Guardian. The focus was on unifying the marketing effort, and improving the Guardian’s portfolio of sites in terms of visibility and conversion. She also managed Guardian Jobs events, and ran several workshops and seminars on Social Media, Reputation Management, working with the Media, e-PR, Fair Access and Social Mobility.

Sophie has developed an unifying approach with organisations, able to spot gaps in the market and new opportunities. Big on resourcefulness, she looks for ways to leverage existing assets be they brand equity, individuals and team members, or unique products, or services.

Sophie is an award winner with OnRec 2006 for Best Marketing Innovation CLICK! and GradU8 – two virtual graduate recruitment fairs in the UK and also in NL. In 2012 Sophie was shortlisted by OnRec in the Technology Innovation category, and by the AoP in the Marketing Innovation category for the Guardian Jobs Facebook app that she developed for the Guardian.

Sophie has recently taken on the role of Campaigns Director for futuristic career social enterprise Enfuse Youth and is busy securing sponsorship for the NEW Campaign 2013.

Sophie is an IAB and an IPA member, and a published author on career management.