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Week of January 22, 2018

Publisher’s pained plea returns
"pathway to cure"

Sparing no irony, Rupert Murdoch has concluded that the cure for fake news is Facebook paying carriage fees to “trusted” publishers. “The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services,” he said in a statement, quoted by Bloomberg (January 22). The Elder Mr. Murdoch has been beating that horse since Google siphoned the money pit.

“Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable,” he continued. “Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.” (See more about fake news here)

Facebook has begun changing its New Feed feature to algorithmically weight websites by user-reported “trustworthiness.” That didn’t sit well with News Corporation, the publisher principally owned by the Murdoch family. “We intend to monitor the impact closely,” said a News Corporation statement, quoted by Bloomberg (January 12), “for any signs that the weighting of news sites is politically motivated.” All News Corporation publications - from the New York Post and Wall Street Journal in the US, the Sun and Times in the UK and the Daily Telegraph and The Australian in Australia - lean to the right-wing politically. US cable news channel Fox News, also principally owned by the Murdoch family, bends to the far-right. (See more about Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation here)

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, MIT economics professor David Autor, quoted by the Guardian (January 23), suggested “Facebook would be almost non-existent 20 years from now.” The Elder Mr. Murdoch will then be 106. Carriage fees are so last century; the market capitalization value of subscription video on demand icon Netflix just hit US$100 billion, reported Reuters (January 23). News Corp’s market capitalization is US$9.9 billion.

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