Social media and tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and Snapchat are moving forcefully into the journalism business by publishing news on their mobile apps. This could be good news for users, who stand to benefit from faster, richer news. Some publishers could also gain extra revenue from more viewers and readers of their products – especially younger ones – on mobile devices.
But there are obvious risks too. With the tech and social media firms hosting the news, publishers will see less traffic and therefore less advertising on their sites. Smaller news producers lacking the resources to produce content for the new platforms could be shut out of the game. There is also the threat that these Silicon Valley mega-firms will move from distributing news to producing it, a move that could crush even the biggest media players.
Since the advent of the Internet just over 20 years ago the journalism industry has been revolutionised by new technologies such as smartphones and tablets. It has been disrupted by the emergence of major new players such as Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. It has been hit by the slump in advertising revenues and the collapse of newspaper readership. And publics used to being broadcasted to on media companies’ terms have now become “the people formerly known as the audience” in Jay Rosen’s memorable phrase.