Google, Disney, and Facebook: Media in the Media

Over the past few years, the big players in the growing media market have been trying to do it all. From connecting users with friends old and new to distributing advertisements and now breaking news, these seemingly unstoppable platforms provide their users with feeds, now curated by algorithms few of us truly understand, forcing us to ask ourselves: “What should we be focusing on?”

In terms of reporting and sourcing news, the past few weeks have seen their fair share of buzz about what companies such as Facebook, Google, and Disney Accelerator company Hoodline think users should experience on their respective platforms. Founded decades apart upon widely varying ambitions, they each have developed their own ways of approaching the growing interest in the distribution of news to an audience that arguably questions the legitimacy of the press more than any other generation in history.

While media and its credibility have been discussed widely over the past year, I aim to offer my take on what is happening by considering what new platforms are surfacing, while also taking into account the adjustments more traditional news outlets are making.

Let us begin with Facebook. When we think of the social media giant, connecting friends, posting content, and communicating through messenger are what comes to mind for most of us. Despite this, the past few years have seen Facebook take on the roles of being a marketing hub, streaming service, and news outlet as well.

Just a few weeks ago, Facebook announced a step back to their social media roots. Their new algorithm will populate feeds with more posts influenced by friend activity, location, and closely curated content. As personal communications between users and local news on feeds increase, companies that rely on Facebook to push advertisements and marketing efforts will suffer.

Although this does seem like a significant decision when it comes to affecting the marketing efforts of influencers and small businesses, I believe Facebook has taken this role and given a portion of it to Instagram. The new and more complex algorithms remove the image-sharing application farther from its chronological roots and closer towards favoring relatively larger accounts of higher activity.

For the past 4 years, multimedia empire The Walt Disney Company has been working on its own media accelerator, which it calls Disney Accelerator. Hoodline, one of the incubator’s 11 companies in the 2017 cycle, aims to tackle the disorganized nature of modern local news reporting by automating the packaging of information from their data-backed API and distributing the content for local news organizations. By sourcing the already available supply and connecting it with a strong demand, Hoodline seems to have created an interesting marketplace for itself. Of course, the sourcing and sharing of their product, though already complex, is still in its early stages of development.

I see Disney’s move into media through their incubator as a promising one. Specifically, with cases such as Hoodline, Disney has decided to aid their innovative technology and support them through a structured process. With an already strong standing on the distributing side of news media from ESPN and ABC, I see Disney as an important player who now approaches the market from both the sourcing and distributing sides.

Though still in beta-testing, Bulletin seems to be Google’s most recent step into the local news space. The platform explores the potential of anyone with a smartphone to capture multimedia, write reports, and directly publish stories to the web, allowing for a much quicker stream of on-demand news for users.

To many, this may sound oddly familiar to Twitter — and I believe that most aren’t wrong. The platform, for now, seems to be, but it will be interesting to see where Google’s newest take on a combination of news reporting and social media goes. Recently, Google has seen a number allegations for affecting the political bias of search results. I find it exciting to see the variety of perspectives that the company will open itself up to once a greater number of potentially politically charged posts populate the new platform.

While these are only a few cases of new platforms tackling the field of news reporting, there are also a number of technological adjustments traditional agencies are making.

Written by Alexander Mo

IQ Associate |EEVM |Emory University





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