Shortly before the elections in the summer, I was sat outside Dublin Airport trying to get an Uber ride to the Irish Mirror. A pop-up appeared on my screen telling me it was important to make sure I’d registered to vote.
Uber – reminding me of my civic duty to vote. Doing, in some ways, what the media has always tried to do, combining a role in civic life with the need to appeal to people, and occasionally being prepared to say to readers sometimes: “Hey, this is important.”
But how do we do that in a world of distributed platforms, and where eyeballs = money in the bank?
It’s a dilemma every social media editor will have faced — the need to get something out which is clearly important versus the very real risk that if readers on Facebook don’t feel it’s important, all in the knowledge that the signals Facebook will pick up will suggest you’ve suddenly got bad at knowing what your readers want.
And then Facebook penalises your subsequent posts, reaching fewer people than expected. And so the world of playing to get back in Facebook’s algorithmic good books begins. How do you overcome that?
But this isn’t a post to join the chorus of people decrying Facebook as ‘journalism’s public enemy number one,’ as the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade rather sensationally announced last week. In fact, it’s wrong to say Facebook is journalism’s biggest problem. Facebook is a symptom of two problems facing journalism.