This is an article that is a little different. To be clear, it consist of an article (from Reuters) and a really weird dream I had, a dream I do not seem to understand at present, but when I think of one, the other one hammers down on me. In the dream I am in a small cubicle, a cubicle with a sliding door, the cubicle is small, barely enough space for 3 people to stand in. I a wearing some kind of hood, not unlike flame proof hood you see Formula one people wear. The hood restricts views to the side, and I kept on hearing ‘Ghost mode deactivating’ and ‘Ghost mode deactivated’, there was a man there, mid or end 30’s, yet I keep on not seeing the face. And the light, there is a small light there, but I seem to be weirdly overreactive to light, almost shunning light. Not sure why. That is all the parts I remember, there is more but every time it is within reach, it slips away. It was decently unsettling.
The article is quite different, it I found at https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-facebook-rejects-talks-with-australia-publisher-testing-worlds-2021-06-25/ and the headline ‘Facebook rejects talks with Australia publisher, testing world’s toughest online law’ should speak volumes. As I read “Australia’s competition watchdog is looking into a claim that Facebook Inc refused a publisher’s request to negotiate a licensing deal, the regulator told Reuters, setting the stage for the first test of the world’s toughest online content law”, so when we see this some will react. Yet questions keep on forming in my mind. So when I see “Facebook declined without giving a reason, The Conversation said, even though the publisher was among the first in Australia to secure a similar deal with Google in the lead-up to the law in 2020” I wonder what is actually in play. You see, they are putting too much faith in social media, it is the old and ever returning discussion of perception and awareness, yet without engagement it almost means nothing and being on social media the way they do is not engagement, it is almost a fake form of representation. They are all vying for the wrong pile of nothing. It is almost like the Conversation is setting itself up to be someone else’s tool. The conversation has internet, it has a website (at https://theconversation.com), so why does it need social media? The article does give the answer one paragraph later with “The knock-back could present the first test of a controversial mechanism unique to Australia’s effort to claw back advertising dollars from Google and Facebook: if they refuse to negotiate licence fees with publishers, a government-appointed arbitrator may step in”, with ‘claw back advertising dollars’, it is seemingly about the money, it is always about the money.
Yes, I agree that this is a method that seemingly works, seemingly is the operative word. Yet the mission (of greed) in light of what we see is not to push for borders that everyone pushes, it is about creating engagement, a part many marketeers and market researchers are eager to avoid, those numbers are not that impressive in too many of cases. So whilst we ponder the words of Andrew Hunter, we look at “Hunter did not answer specific questions concerning The Conversation, but said Facebook was planning a separate initiative “to support regional, rural and digital Australian newsrooms and public-interest journalism in the coming months”, without giving details”, yet when we consider that it first launched in Australia in March 2011, and has expanded into editions in the United Kingdom in 2013, United States in 2014, Africa and France in 2015, Canada in 2017, Indonesia in 2017, and Spain in 2018. In September 2019, The Conversation reported a monthly online audience of 10.7 million users onsite, and a combined reach of 40 million people including republications, it is also available in English, French, Spanish, and Indonesian, so the entire ‘regional, rural and digital Australian newsrooms’ becomes debatable. One could optionally argue that Facebook has a circle of stakeholders that is looking out for their own media friends. I agree that my view is personal and optionally debatable as well, yet the issues in play overlap in a weir way, a view with a limited view forward, not to the sides, just like the F1 hood I was wearing in my dream, I could not see the sides other then to turn my head.
Facebook could be playing a real dangerous game, but it is not one I can see at present. They are slick and hiding behind party lines, giving us ambiguous “journalism in the coming months”, especially when the details are missing, and the media doesn’t rely on day to day, do they? And it is then, at the end of the article where Rod Sims gives the game away with “If Google’s done a deal with them, I can’t see how Facebook should argue that they shouldn’t” with the added “using the term for assigning an arbitrator”, this is about drawing borderlines and the Australian ACCC allowed for this new stage of media war, the sad part is that the ones with money will get their share, they are or will become stakeholders, the small players like the Conversation do not. It seems to be (at least in my mind) a stage that politicians never understood in the first place, or they did and they were fending for themselves, not the people. The pie of revenue is shrinking and the current players want their same share (plus 10%), the fallout will be growing over time, I feel certain of that. I merely wonder what the others will do whilst the larger players ignore engagement (for now), in the old station of a program like AnswerTree, the setting was clear, you can either mail more to keep the revenue, growing cost again and again, and you have the option to mail more efficient, growing engagement is mailing more efficient and in the end better rewarding. Yet in all this, it is not about Facebook, Google or the Conversation. It is about the political players, they are about themselves and it will cost the media a lot more than they are willing to accept soon enough.
It is merely my view, it is speculative but I think it is more on point then even I can admit to.