Haters and manipulators are part of the new media landscape but it's time to fight back, according to media commentator and academic JEFF JARVIS.
In terms of business models and addressing the lack of trust in the media, Mr. Jarvis believes journalists are asking the wrong questions.
"The media needs to take the key responsibility for change and part of that is through listening to the public."
Jarvis is the director of the Tow-Knight Centre for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism. He found his feet creating Entertainment Weekly and has worked as a journalist for many other publications.
At CUNY, Jarvis delivers a social journalism course, in which students go out and engage with self-defined communities, build their trust and learn to understand their needs. A method often used in the field of anthropology.
“Anthropology is a useful skill, because it has a discipline of evidence. We don’t have that in journalism. The skills of anthropology are critical.”
I think journalists still tend to think they make a product, called content, that we can just put there and people will come
Instead of expecting the community to be drawn by the content, Jarvis thinks it’s a journalist’s responsibility to go to the community. In particular, online communities.
He believes journalists need to better utilise social media and sharing websites instead of blaming them for their lack of business.
“I think journalists still tend to think they make a product, called content, that we can just put there and people will come. We’ve got to start listening to the public.”
Jarvis is in Australia for the opening of the Centre for Media Transition, a UTS venture which hopes to promote collaboration between the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
“We believe it [the centre] will be a unique venture in this field,” according to Professor Lesley Hitchens, Dean of Law at UTS.
“We’re looking at a true collaborative approach.”
Jarvis will also be running workshops giving a series of talks about future of journalism and possible business models and the influence of “haters” and “manipulators” on the current media landscape.
Maybe Russia doesn’t care about you for now but there are plenty of other manipulators out there
Though he thinks the influence of what is often labelled “fake news” isn’t as prominent in Australia, he still thinks it’s something that should be addressed
“Based on the evidence, I don’t see the level of hatred and polarisation and manipulation here,” Jarvis said.
“Does that mean that you’re off the beaten track? That your isolation is beneficial? I doubt that. Maybe Russia doesn’t care about you for now but there are plenty of other manipulators out there. So I fear it will hit at some point.”
He thinks Australian media needs to work hard not to fall into the same traps the US media has.
“The advantage [Australia] then has is to learn from [the US’s] mistakes. And we’ve made plenty.”
One example he mentions is Facebook, a company which has recently made a large donation to the Tow-Knight Center at CUNY.
“Facebook started Instant Articles, which I like, I’m glad they did it. The problem is it plays to our worst industry levels, that everything is an article. And all the monetisation and traffic is tied around instant articles.”
He thinks Facebook should help publishers and journalists by giving them a platform to produce content natively and help to come up with models that could be monetised outside of articles.
“The political pressure that Facebook is under forces them to suck up to publishers, which is fine, but I really think they should be teaching us how to better use it.”
As for collaboration, Jarvis would like to see journalism collaborate with more fields in the future.
“I think psychology is one. Understanding the psychology of sharing, why does somebody share, what do they get out of it, what would make them change their view. Also sociology, to understand the larger behaviour of groups.”