Saturday, October 31, 2015

Article of Interest in this month's Atlantic

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, the cover of this month's issue of The Atlantic is definitely worth checking out:
©2015 The Atlantic

So is the cover story/article, by Walter Kirn, which you can read here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Changing Face of Journalism, in Canada and Beyond

There has been a lot of discussion these past couple of weeks about the role of journalists and news media in election campaigns and coverage, with a couple of pretty high profile and controversial endorsements emerging in the days leading up to todays' election. These stories diverge from the issues relayed in this week's readings in various ways, but they are also connected - especially in terms of the notion of "click bait journalism" and how commercial priorities often translate into an over-simplification of issues and perspectives.  The following labour dispute, as described by journalist/columnist and former National Post Editor (of Editorials and Comment) Andrew Coyne, illustrates some of these linkages:

Friday, September 18, 2015

Of ads and adblockers

This article in The Verge is an interesting case study in "chicken little" alarmism about the future of the web (or rather, of "traditional" media-dominant web), but also in "old" versus "new" models of media production/distribution. There's also an interesting re-write of history going on here, not only in terms of the history of the internet, but in terms of the history of media more generally. The author (Nilay Patel):
Media has always compromised user experience for advertising: that's why magazine stories are abruptly continued on page 96, and why 30-minute sitcoms are really just 22 minutes long. Media companies put advertising in the path of your attention, and those interruptions are a valuable product. Your attention is a valuable product.
Granted, the "audience commodity" (Smythe 1981) has been around for quite some time, but there have indeed been other models for supporting media production. And now that "audiences" have morphed into "users" and now (increasingly) into user-producers, the idea that ads pay for content production and/or distribution is under serious challenge. Although there are still plenty of examples where content is indeed produced by professional, paid laborers (creative workers, information workers, artists, authors, journalists), some of the major players involved rely pretty heavily on immaterial, unpaid and user-made/generated contributions. Even in terms of constructing and maintaining the infrastructures and distribution systems (various parts of reddit come to mind here). Thoughts???