6: Losing Control over Distribution

Previously, news media use social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to drive traffic to their own websites. Now we’re seeing increasing efforts from news media to bring their content to the platforms to directly reach the audience. Some even have to produce contents solely for these social platforms—we call this type of content “distributed content.”


Start with a general introduction of distributed content and the trend here:


Before you proceed to the next reading, install Snapchat on your phone if you haven’t already. Try out Snapchat Discovery. The point of having you read this article is not to say that it is the ultimate solution for mobile news, but that every time a new platform is invented, there are new possibilities opened up.


Facebook, with its news feed feature, has become a gigantic news distributor. However, it doesn’t think of itself as a media company. Instead of human editors, Facebook uses algorithm to decide what shows up in our newsfeed. Instead of journalistic standards, Facebook has its own value when deciding what we see in our news feed. In fact, this Facebook New Feed editorial philosophy wasn’t released until this June. Read it here, and think how are these values different from a news organisation’s.


The concern that social media has swallowed journalism is further discussed in this interview with Emily Bell and Jay Rosen.
(Emily Bell’s speech “Facebook is Eating the World” is recommended, but not required.)


Recently, Facebook censored a famous war photograph “Napalm Girl” because the nudity in the picture is deemed inappropriate. Its failure to distinguish between documentary photograph and child pornography is widely criticised. This has also alarmed the public that Facebook has so much power and control over the distribution of information.
Additional reading:
Want to experiment with making a vertical video? Read this useful guide: